Travel, Food & Books

Comuna 13 Tour Medellín

This place was once known for drug cartels, and gang violence, and police often raid this area. No tourist dares to set foot in this place. However, now that this place is safe, with the story, graffiti, and street art performances, it’s enough to attract people from all around the world to come visit this place.

Yesterday when we arrived in Medellin, only then we booked this tour online. Most of the walking tours listed on the website required at least two days of booking in advance. But we managed to find one that allowed us to book it a day before, a company named World Lion Tour.

What to Expect on the Comuna 13 Tour

When we arrived at San Javier station, we went to the entrance to meet up with the tour guide. After introducing ourselves to Leandro, our tour guide who wore a red shirt and cap, he told us to wait on the side while waiting for the others to arrive.

The tour only started at 2:10 pm, and if I was not mistaken, our group was about twenty people. We walked to the bus stop located behind the metro station. It didn’t look like a bus stand to me, but people were standing on the roadside, and some buses parked there. Leandro made some arrangements with the public bus driver to take just the people from our group. The bus fare was 1,200 COP per person.

During the tour which was about two hours and thirty minutes, Leandro told us stories of the urban Guerrillas and how the transformation happened, and it’s all thanks to the art and hip hop. Whenever we reached some special graffiti, he would tell us the meaning behind it. The most popular one was by Chota 13.

Chota 13

Our tour guide also treated us to local ice cream and had us choose the flavour. The choice selection was coconut, Soursop, Mango, Passion fruit, Coffee etc. I chose Mango, and it was delicious and refreshing.

It was hard work to sell or get something from the town before they had these escalators installed. In what used to be 25 minutes of walking up the hill, these escalators allowed us to reach the top of a 384-meter steep hill in only six minutes.

One of the 6 Escalators in Comuna 13

Club Colombia beer costs 4,000 COP per bottle in this tourist place.

I couldn’t remember much about the story that Leandro had told us, but what I remembered was that the two most important military operations were Mariscal and Orión.

The History

During the Mariscal operation on 21st May 2002, the death total was nine with many more injured, and three out of the nine innocent civilians were underage. During the shooting, a mother realised that her sons were injured, and she decided to use the white bed sheet and waved through the window asking to be out as she needed to take her kids to the hospital. Her neighbours saw what she did, and supported her by doing the same. In less than thirty minutes the whole neighbourhood was covered with white flags, and that’s how the Mariscal operation gradually terminated.

The elephants flagging white sheet

On 16th October the same year, Operation Orion, which was the last and largest military intervention with more than 1,500 officers, two helicopters and one tank brought to wipe out the rebels of FARC and ELN believed to be hiding in Comuna 13. Besides the official officers, there were also hooded men ‘helping’ out the officer by pointing out houses to be searched. This three-day operation ended the guerillas, but not without casualties. Ten rebels, two soldiers, one police officer and three civilians were killed, and more than two hundred were wounded in this mission.

But that’s not the end of the terror, during Operation Orion, the Paramilitaries had helped to fight in the mission, and when it was over, they took control of Comuna 13. The next two years, they judged illegally and placed the civilians on trial, accused them of helping the Guerillas when they were still in charge, and those who were found guilty were sentenced to death.

The View and Other Picture

The view overlooking the city was marvellous. The houses were painted in a bright colour, and we could see the sea of jungle stone that looked endless. But it was a different story from the other angle of this area which the locals called “La Escombrera”. A mass grave to more than two hundred people who mysteriously disappeared and were allegedly buried in this place. Believed to be the victims while the Paramilitaries were in control.

La Escombrera in the distance (the area without greenery)

Leandro offered everyone in the group to go to his house and afterwards to the bar when the tour finished. However, Mike and I were too hungry as we didn’t have any lunch before joining the tour. We declined the offer, and before leaving him and the group, we gave him some money thanking him for conducting this meaningful tour.

Comuna 13 Tour Contact Number

Those who are interested in taking this tour can contact Leandro directly on his mobile, email him or book it online.

Whatsapp: +573007776568
or from

The tour is available in two languages, Spanish and English. While Leandro converses in English, his wife conducts the tour in Spanish. (in a separate way.)

Travel Date: 20th January 2019

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