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Pasto is a city in the southwest of Colombia.

Carnival in Pasto

City of the South Colombian West, with a population superior to the 400,000 inhabitants and capital of the department of Nariño. Pasto is one of the oldest cities of Colombia, located in the Atriz Valley, in the middle of the Mountain range of the Andes in the denominated mountainous bulk of the Pasto on the foot of Galeras volcano. The region is mountainous and surrounded by several indigenous towns.


Pasto is a city where different cultures are mixed. The dominant one, without a doubt, is the Andean culture. Unequivocal evidence of this is the Black and White Carnival, in which 'pastusos' (People from Pasto; local denomination) celebrate with colors and joy the incredible richness of their culture. The city is located in the Atriz Valley, at the foot of the Galeras Volcano, which can be observed from any angle of the city.

Pasto is a very religious city, with beautiful temples that certainly represent the architectural wealth of the city. Some of them are very ancient and have been mixed with the modern and colonial styles simultaneously.

Crafts are an important tradition in Pasto, from which the so-called Pasto varnish is the most well-known. Leather, ceramics, and wooden products also constitute the historical and cultural legacy of the city.


  • Black and White Carnival, January 2nd-7th

The Black and White Carnival is a celebration that was declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO on 2009 , in addition to its previous title of Cultural Heritage of the Nation honored by the congress of the Republic of Colombia in April 2002.

The Black and Whitre Carnival consists of various popular festivities that are held every year between the 2nd and the 7th of January by the extremely friendly and welcoming people from San Juan de Pasto (Pasto). During these days the streets of Pasto become an urban playground where men, women, children of all ethnicities and background use black, white and colour cosmetics to paint each other as a symbol of communion and joy in their ethnic and cultural differences. Besides the "painting each other" game, people enthusiastically join street parades which are the main highlight of the Carnival. Parades take place on January 4th (Castaneda family arrival), 5th (Black's day) and 6th (White's day) featuring floats artcrafted by local artisans and traditional dances and bands from other villages and in some cases countries like Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia.

Today the Black and White Carnival in Pasto attracts a considerable number of tourists from several parts of the world and became a "must see highlight" featured in the calendar of Colombian and World festivities. Joining the kind people from Pasto in their houses and streets to participate in parade floats and traditional dances is a togetherness experience that was treasured in the memories of lucky few and now is open to the world!


Unlike some areas in Colombia, Pasto has a 'cold' climate, with day-time temperatures oscillating between 13°C and 20°C most of the year. Occasionally, temperatures can drop to 10°C and rise to 25°C. It is a good a idea to carry a sweater with you.

Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation+Snow totals in mm
Check Pasto's 7 day forecast at Meoweather
Imperial conversion
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation+Snow totals in inches
  • Average Temperature: 14ºC
  • Annual average precipitation: 700 mmts
  • Altitude: 2527 meters over the sea level
  • Humidity: approximately 88%

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

The Antonio Nariño Airport receives Flights from Bogota and Cali. The airport is 30 min away from the city, and enjoys frequent transportation by bus or taxi.

By car[edit]

Pasto is connected with paved roads, such as the Panamerican highway to the rest of the country. You could rent a car an enjoy the beautiful scenery in the area surrounding the city. Airport Car Rental.

By bus[edit]

Direct buses run from Bogota, Cali, Popayan, and Ipiales (close to the Ecuadorian border). Connections are easy to make in any of these cities for any further destinations.

You could get your tickets in the web page of some companies. Below are some of the most common ones

Approximate ticket prices:

  • Pasto - Popayán COP$50,000 (Oct 2023)
  • Pasto - Cali COP$35,000
  • Pasto - Tumaco COP$24,000
  • Ipiales - Pasto : COP$15,000
  • Pasto - Mocoa : COP$50,000

You can also buy your tickets in the Terminal de Transportes de Pasto.

Get around[edit]

A short taxi run in the city costs around COP$5000. If going from one end of the city to the other it can cost up to COP$6000. Those prices are fixed! You can request a taxi by calling 7320000 or 7323743.


  • 1 La Cocha Lake (20 km from Pasto). 2,800 m above sea level, La Cocha Lake offers a most wonderful landscape of mountains, colors and water. It is 20 km long and 5 km wide. The name "La Cocha" originates in Quechua language, meaning lagoon. It is also known as Guamués Lake. The lake encounters several obstacles such as the Encano River. In 2000 and by means of Decree 698 of the 18 of April, the lake was registered as a landmark of international importance within the Ramsar agreement, being the first with this qualification in the Andean zone. The tourists can visit by boat one of its islands, from which "La Corota" is the one that stands out the most, due to its "Santuario de Flora y Fauna" (administrated by the University of Nariño).
  • 2 Galeras Volcano (9 km from Pasto). Between the limits of the central mountain range and the Patía River, within the Santuario de Flora y Fauna Galeras, it reaches 4,276 meters over the sea level. It can easily be seen from Pasto city. Access near the mountaintop is forbidden due to continuing volcanic activity. Of the Santuario only the Telpis sector with the Laguna De Telpis is open.
  • Laguna Verde - 72 km form Pasto in the city of Tuquerres, this is a beautiful green lake located in the crater of the volcano Azufral. You can hike from the bus terminal (16 km), get an hourly bus to San Roque (COP$1000 then 10 km walk) or a taxi to the park entrance (COP$20,000 or less). Register at the park entrance and then the walk is 6 km. The entrance is around 3700 m high and the volcano reaches 4,070 meters over the sea . To get to Tuquerres, get a bus from the terminal in Pasto (COP$6000) or a shared taxi (COP$9000). This is also easily accessible from Ipiales and makes a great stop between the 2 cities. As of April 2018, the park is closed until further notice.
  • 3 Plaza de Nariño. Town square where people will help themselves to your cell phone.


  • 4 Templo De Cristo Rey, St.20 # 24-64. Wow, the inside of this one, like being in a medieval European gothic cathedral.
  • 5 San Juan Bautista, St 18 # 25.
  • 6 Templo de San Felipe. Nice cruciform shape. Tourqoise and white design.
  • 7 San Agustin (K 24 ST 16).
  • 8 Iglesia de San Andres. Interesting architecture if you like the little domes scattered about.
  • 9 Church of Our Lady of Fatima, Cl. 19 #14-29. A Byzantine style design.
  • San Ignacio (St 15 K 32).


  • 10 Museo Alfonso Zambrano, St 20 23-90 floor 5. Mostly about an artist's woodwork.
  • 11 Museo Taminango, Carrera 29. 08:00-18:00 M-F, 09:00-13:00 Sa, closed Su. Museum about artisanal culture.
  • 12 Museo Juan Lorenzo Lucero, Cl. 18 #28-87, +57 2 7314414. 08:00-11:00, 14:00-17:00 M-F; 08:00-11:00 Sa, closed Su. Displays about history and cultural heritage of southwest Colombia.
  • 13 Centro Cultural Pandiaco Museo Del Carnaval, Cl. 19 #42-60. 08ː00-18ː00 Tu-F, 08ː00-15ː00 Su, closed Sa and M. Museum about the Carnival.
  • 14 Museo del Oro Nariño, Cl. 19 #21-27 (in Banco de la República), +57 2 7213001. 10:00-17:00 Tu-Sa, closed Su-M. A museum about ways of life and history of ancient cultures of the area, with exhibits such as pottery and metal works. Some gold pieces as well. free.


They are plenty of shops around the city to buy handcrafts. They are expensive but worth to have it. Some of them are listed below.

  • Artesanías de Colombia S.A, Cr 19 # 26-66.
  • Artesanías Jaramillo, Commercial center "Bombona".
  • La Casa del Barniz de Pasto, St 13 # 24-92.


  • Ciclovía. Every Sunday and Monday holiday from 7AM to noon Avenida de los Estudiantes and other streets are closed to cars and hundreds of people turn out to bicycle, skate, jog and walk. You can join up on foot.


Eat outside is really cheap. But, some dishes could be quite expensive like Cuy. Anyway, you could try nice empanadas and tamales they are very cheap and different than in other places.

  • Cuy or Conejillo de Indias. Animal of the Cavia sort and Porcellus species used in the department of Nariño and specially in its capital, Pasto, as nutritional source. With a high protein content 21%, and a low fat content, this animal is the typical and favorite dish of Pastusos. In Pasto the guinea pig is mainly fed with grass, and sometimes with concentrate. The cooking procedures for the traditional cuy is the roasted guinea pig, and it is obtained in different restaurants in the city or places nearby.
  • Empanadas: These are made of fermented-corn dough. In all Nariño, especially in the Andean zone, they can be filled with meat, rice and green beans. The texture of the dough gives them their characteristic sharp flavor. Also try quimbolitos, juanesca, and frito
  • Asadero de Cuyes Pinzon, Crr 40#19B-763, 7313228.
  • Casa Vasca, St 12A # 29-10 San Ignacio Neighborhood, Tel 7230242.
  • Gualcacuy, Av Panamericana # 19-66 tel, 7222093.
  • Juanambú, St 25 # 17-83, tel 7235216.
  • La Cabaña, St 16 # 25-20, Tel 723862.
  • Sausalito, St 35A # 20-63, Tel 7230908.


You could find chicha and Guarapo in many places in south america. But you should try 'Hervidos They are unique!

  • Chicha : Homemade fermented drink. It is made with the fermentation of maize.
  • Guarapo: Homemade fermented drink, sometimes it is just juice of raw sugar cane.
  • Hervidos = fruit juice + aguardiente
  • Aguardiente, Nariño
  • Ron


It is magic to sleep in a city which is laying in the base of a volcano. If you are lucky may be you could be able to see some ashes or even more spewing lava. There are many places to stay safe since you are in the city. E.g. an abundance of budget hotels are located near the bus terminal, for instance hotel 'Paola' ask for COP$12,000 (single).


  • Hotel Torre del Bosque. Cra 44 No 18-12. This is a modern hotel with comfortable rooms from US$17.
  • Hotel Chambu Plaza, Crr 20#16-74, 7213129-7213645.
  • Koala-Inn, Calle 18 No 22-37. Set in an old mansion, offers basic rooms for COP$25,000 per person (Oct 2022). Administrator "Luis" is an extremely friendly host and acts as a great source of local information and for other parts of the country. WiFi and breakfast included, no kitchen access.
  • Hotel Torre Ideal, Calle 18A #6-20 av. Idema, +57 2 7214410, . Nice clean place with comfy beds close to the bus terminal. After a bit of negotiation, it is possible to pay COP$30,000 for a double room with TV and private bathroom for one night. There's a free computer with Internet in the lobby, but no WiFi. A good place to break down the journey to/from Ipiales.



Go next[edit]



Mocoa via the trampolín de la muerte

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