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Villa Martina

Villa Martina
Kilometro 3.5, Via Yopal-Paz de Ariporo, Yopal, Casanare
+57 319.242.7090 (celular/whatsapp)
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Overview: Yopal is the capital of Casanare, one of three Colombian states (or departamentos) generally considered to make up "Los Llanos" or the Plains region. Along with Meta and Arauca, it is land full of culture and ecotourism, that stretches from the edge of the eastern cordillera of the Andes Mountains, to the Venezuelan border. Villa Martina is the first backpacking-style hostel in Casanare, and it's just minutes from downtown. This is Colombia's oil region, and Casanare has experienced a boom in economic growth and population, although it has subsided somewhat with the falling price of oil.

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Neighborhood: The neighborhood where Villa Martina is located is called Buena Vista. It is just 5-10 minutes away from downtown Yopal depending on traffic, and just 3.5km from the city, on the other side of the bridge over the Cravo Sur River.

How to Get There: Generally, travel in Colombia is either by plane or bus. If you are arriving by plane at Yopal's El Alcaravan Airport (EYP) just take a taxi to the hostel. It's only around 8km, and it should cost around $15.000 to $20.000. Latam, Avianca, and EasyFly offer several flights to Bogota, as well as Bucaramanga, the capital of Santander state. The airport is located on the southern edge of the city.

If you are arriving by bus at the downtown terminal, you can either take a "colectivo" or small bus, or a taxi to the hostel. There is a bus that goes from the terminal to the hostal every 20-30 minutes that costs $2.500. Take the bus that says "Ariporo." In about 10 minutes, you will see a large yellow bridge over the Rio Cravo Sur. After that, it is the third left. Look for the big Villa Martina sign, and go up the hill, where you will pass the basketball court on the right, and a swimming pool on the right. 

If you are arriving from Bogota, a bus is approximately 8 hours. Sogamoso, in Boyaca, is 4 hours away, and Villavicencio, the capital of Meta state, is also 4 hours away.

From 4am to 9pm there is a bus that runs on the highway between Ariporo and Yopal every 15 minutes and it costs $2.500.

Management/Staff: David is the hostel manager, and there is also a family on the property that serve as caretakers. They are friendly and helpful.

Rooms: There is space for 13 guests in total.

Shared Rooms: There is a dormitory with four beds. The price is between $20.000 to $28.000 per person per night.

Private Rooms: There are two private rooms with private bathrooms. The price for this accommodation per person is $55.000.

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Amenities: 

Breakfast: No. But they are planning to do it within six months.

Kitchen: Yes.

Restaurant:  Not now, but in the future.

Bar: Not now, but in the future.

Terrace/Patio: There are several terrace and patio areas, including a nice swimming pool with a water slide or "tobagon."

TV Lounge: They are putting in cable TV in one month.

Computers: No.

Wifi: In three months they will have wifi.

Lockers: No.

Bicycles: Mountain bikes are available for use on the mountain biking track. The price is $25.000 for an hour, or $40.000 for the full day.

Credit Cards: No. Cash only.

Luggage Storage: Yes.

Check-in Time: 11am

Check-out Time: 3pm

Restaurants in the Neighborhood: David recommends several restaurants in town: La Res offers up a wide variety of steaks and cuts of beef, as well as top-notch hamburgers. La Mamona is a great place to experience the specialty food of the Colombian plains: the barbecued "carne llanera" which consists of beef and/or pork generally served with potatoes and arepa. If you're interested in seafood, El Camaron Rojo serves up the best in town, while La Jaiba offers up seafood and Peruvian favorites like ceviche.

Tourism in the City: Great places to visit include the Mirador de la Virgen de Manare and the Mirador de Buenavista, which offer spectacular views of the eastern cordillera (mountain range) and the city of Yopal. Parque Santander is the main square of the city, where you will find vendors selling food and cold lemonade and juices. La Cascada Calaboza, locateed above the bridge, is also a pleasant walk. There is a dirt trail leading to the waterfall.

If you are looking for a place to go out at night Cerberus is a great pub option, and also serves fast food. 

There are three discotecas in the city. One is called Lola, and is located at the Acaraval Centro Comercial. It is an enclosed space, and they charge a cover of $10.000 to access the VIP "Diamante" room. Also highly recommended are Manigua, which is in the open air, and Machaca. These also charge a cover of $10.000.

Tourism Outside the City: Sendero de la Virgen is a perennial favorite outside of the city. It's a nature walk circuit, that generally takes around 4 hours to complete. 

En Monterrey, 100km southwest of Yopal, you'll find the Rio Tua, a great place for extreme sports. There is white water rafting, la Cascada Zando, and various hiking trails. It is about 2 hours away.

Just past Monterrey, on the same highway to Villavicencio, you'll find Villanueva and its famous aguas termales, or hot springs. It's about 2.5 hours away, and a bus costs around $35.000.

17km east of the city, on the Via Matepantano, you'll find El Garcero, the resting place of the famous "garzas", or white herons. A taxi charges you $10.000 to go there.

Conozcamos a Casanare is a tourist agency that has made a documentary called Trabajo de Llano, which offers an interesting view of life on the plains. They also offer all day nature tours, lunch included, leaving early in the morning at 6am or 7am, and returning at 6pm or 7pm.

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Of particular interest is that David has designed his own 850m mountain biking circuit, through the forest. The 4 hectare property offers a great experience for fans of mountain biking, or it can be used as a nature walk circuit, which typically takes 20-25 minutes to complete. Mountain biking is big in Casanare and Boyaca. David realized he had a good space to create the circuit, and they are working on expanding the trail.

There is also a basketball court and a pool on the property.

Conclusion: With tourism and ecotourism rapidly expanding throughout Colombia, Yopal and Casnare are poised to become new frontiers for tourists and backpackers. Colombia Backpacking highly recommends Villa Martina as the best place to stay in town.

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