Colombia Travel Reports:

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La Noche de Silletera (The Night of the Silletera):

The night (and day) before the parade of the Silleteras (Flower Festival/Medellin), people gather in the town of Santa Elena in order to enjoy various festivals and parties that surround the creation of these truly unique and spectacular displays called “silletas”. There is folk music that is played and alcoholic beverages served are typical to Colombia including beer, rum (ron) and of course aguardiente. The food is quite a treat and includes items such as chuzo, sancocho, lechona, fried items and lots of different kinds of deserts.

Trip Details

WHERE: Medellin to Santa Elena

WHEN:  August 2010 / Day trip and 1 night in cabin

MODE: Private car

PLACES VISITED:  Santa Elena the night before the parade of the “Silleteros”


If you do not have access to a car, there are several tour operators and private busses that can be arranged to take you to Santa Elena which is located up the hill just outside of Medellin to the east. The trip takes about 40 minutes to reach Santa Elena. We took Avenida Bolivariana and took a few turns until we reached Avenida Ayacucho (Calle 49), which crosses through the neighborhoods of Buenos Aires, Miraflores, Los Cerros and Barrios de Jesus among others.

As you leave Medellin and travel higher into the green mountainside, the views back onto the city are spectacular. There are some geological faults that affect the road as you ascend higher, especially at kilometer 10. It is recommended to drive carefully and follow the traffic signs. The public service minibuses to Santa Elena can be accessed on Ayacucho (Calle 49) by Carrera 42, one block north of the new headquarters of the Universidad de Belles Artes. The bus ticket price is approximately $1700 COP (less than $1 USD).

An alternative route for this ascent to Santa Elena is via Las Palmas. This route which also takes you to the international airport in Rio Negro  can be accessed from San Diego (El Poblado) and Sancho Paisa roundabouts in the municipality of Envigado.

Thanks to favorable topography, this district has good road connectivity, and also has shuttle service between villages, which is divided into routes that connect several to the main park and to the urban city of Medellin. Santa Elena is a link between Medellin, the eastern parts of Antioquia and Jose Maria Cordoba Airport. There exists a network of old style and some pre-Colombian roads like La Ruta del Sal y El Oro.

Travel by Gondola to Santa Elena:

Alternative public access to Santa can be accessed via the Cable Arvi line K which connects at station Santa Domingo and travels to station El Tambo and lasts about 15 minutes. From El Tambo you can walk to the main park and catch a minibus to Santa Elena. The ride in the gondola is nothing short of spectacular as you catch views of the Aburra Valley as well as forest and mountainside down below.

Where to Stay in Santa Elena, Colombia:

We arrived in town around noon and decided to rent a cabin in Santa Elena as the night brings lots of party goers, busses and cars into the Santa Elena area which makes it difficult to leave town after nightfall. Many of the access roads are restricted as well. We chose a small cabin at Mirador Cerro Verde which as its name implies has an amazing view of the valley that Jose Maria Cordoba International Airport resides as well as the airport itself. The cost was $60,000 COP for two people and the accommodations were quite basic. However, the area is perfect and provides a good base camp area to enjoy all the days/nights festivities. They serve really good food at this tourist location as well and we took advantage of breakfast, lunch and a dinner while staying here.

  • The access roads into this sector were actually restricted to car traffic unless you had prior access rights. We lucked out and were able to bring our car inside the area because we had secured a room. As such, we were only one of a few privileged tourists to the area that got to drive vs. walk (some of the time). We actually walked a total of 3-4 kilometers in total which does not sound like a lot until you take into account the hill factor.

PHOTOS of Mirador Cerro Verde:

Click images for larger view.

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