Las Lajas Sanctuary: A Backpacker’s Guide to Colombia
Just outside a sketchy border town which has absolutely nothing to offer, the beautiful Las Lajas Sanctuary stands, entirely unanticipated by the ignorant traveler.
You, of course, are not an ignorant traveler because you are reading this, so you can plan your otherwise uneventful Colombia-Ecuador border crossing to include this manmade wonder.
The Las Lajas Sanctuary is a basilica that was built inside of a canyon between 1916 and 1949. Its gothic grandeur is comparable to much older, magnificent churches in Europe, and has the added magic of its surreal location connecting two cliffsides.
The sanctuary is just a 15 minute drive from the town of Ipiales, whose sole function seems to be a stopping point for people crossing the border. Although there isn’t the slightest thing to attract you to the city itself, it is worth stopping here for a night if you are intending to cross the border in order to go see the church.
It’s a simple matter of taking an inexpensive cab to Las Lajas from anywhere in the town if you don’t have your own car. The cab will drop you off at the top of the hill and from there it’s about a 10 minute walk down to the church.
Entrance is free and you can freely wander around the mountain paths in search of the best view. It shouldn’t take you more than an hour to take in the sights, wander around the souvenir parlors, and snack on some local street food.
Worth it? If you’re crossing the border between Colombia and Ecuador, don’t miss it.
What to bring: camera
– Iris & Roi
Any questions or thoughts about Las Lajas? Tell us in the comments 🙂