Not only words like beautiful sceneries, proud, happy, polite and very friendly people comes to mind when thinking about Colombia but also words like; stunning graffiti, very cheap and squeaky clean restrooms. Colombia is really a fantastic country, we loved it.
Wow what a relief when we, at last, arrived to Colombia. After three days of seasickness I was determined to stay on land for quite some time.
Getting the bikes off the boat was more nerve-racking than getting them in. First we moved the bikes from the sailboat into a very little boat. If the bikes had been a few more centimetres they wouldn’t have gone in that boat. Anyway it went well, and when the bikes touched the ground in Cartagena in Colombia we were over the moon.
The captain on the boat had told us that we could sort out the temporary import before we picked up the passport from the immigration office. I kind of knew that that wouldn’t be possible and I was right. After hours of waiting and riding to different offices to sort out the paperwork it was getting dark. However, at last, we hungry, thirsty and very tired could get to a hostel and have that shower I had been longing for since we left Panama.
The music from hell
We happened to stay in a hostel next door to a rave place. They put on the music from hell at 8pm and didn’t stop until 6.30am the morning after…. To my knowledge it was just one song from the start to the end at least I couldn’t hear any differences in the ‘melody’. I had earplugs but it still felt like I was just in front of a huge speaker. I have heard that people who go to these places use party drugs and honestly, I don’t blame them at all…
At the hostel the people smoked lots of marijuana and honestly I’m so f*cking bored talking with these zombies. I can nowadays only stand talking with a stoned person for 5 minutes… then I fall asleep zzzzzz
Wonderful beach camping
The next stop was at a beach called Los Angeles. We had planned to stay in Taganga which we heard should be a really nice little fishing village… However it turned out to be another backpacker place and we couldn’t coop with one more night around party people so we went another 40 km to this wonderful quite beach.
We pitched the tent next to some coconut trees but tried to not be directly under the them to avoid getting coconuts falling on our tent. We had a lazy dinner, pasta and peanuts yummy hehe. Falling asleep and waking up by waves hitting the shore is just the best.
Wow already Sunday the 30th of August, time flies when having fun. We decided to ride to Maicao which is a town very close to Venezuela. Venezuela was on our list of countries to visit but as I had ridden with a broken shock absorber since Panama, I felt that we had to get that sorted first in Bogota.
We had been told that we shouldn’t stay in the city as the people there do not like white people…. but we didn’t notice anything of that instead people were incredible friendly.
When leaving Maicao we, managed to pack the bikes quickly so we were on the road at 6.30 am and it was ‘only’ 27 degrees Celsius. Honestly this is the time of the day that is the best to be riding a bike. Hardly any traffic, less pollution, not so hot and it is just beautiful.
After about 300 km of boring ‘buyingy’ riding via Valledupar we stopped in La Jagua de Ibirico where we found a newly opened hotel. Two obese sisters, who could barely walk, owned the place. It was so funny when they filled in the details on the ‘sign in form’ they wrote down everything from the passport and I mean everything, even the Swedish headings in the passport… They also had very difficult to understand that we had the same surname and were married…. Maybe they don’t have that in Colombia.
After a very long day (480 km) from La Jagua de Ibirico to Barichara we arrived quite exhausted, very late, to this beautiful place. This is by far the prettiest town we have visited in Colombia.
The streets were made of beautiful cobblestones and the houses where all painted white. There were no other tourist around which made it a very sleepy and wonderful place to be and have some rest.
Barichara to San Gil
After four days we left wonderful Barichara and headed the ‘whole’ way, 22km, to San Gil, yes that was probably the shortest day on the whole trip
It is unbelievable that two places that are that close to each other can be so different. While Barichara was a nice, clean, organised, San Gil was the opposite. There was lots of people and the traffic was hectic and gone where the nice houses and the minimalistic feeling that we had seen in Barichara. We stayed one night in San Gil and though we didn’t really like the city we had the best meal we had for a while, filet steak and though we are not much into meat, that steak was just mouth-watering.
Villa De Leyva
Next up was Villa De Leyva. The road started of very good with nice winding road through beautiful hilly landscapes. When, after about 185 km, we reached Villa De Leyva which also had cobblestone streets but far from the smooth streets we had in Barichara. These cobblestone streets were a hell to ride with the broken shock absorber. Anyway we found a camping ground just outside the city. We pitched the tent next to a passionfruit tree and the scent was incredible. It was slightly colder in Villa De Leyva and it felt wonderful to cuddle into the sleeping bags during the nights.
In Villa De Leyva, this little girl spend a day with us trying to teach us Spanish but I think she learn more English than we Spanish.
We also met some very friendly people while in Villa De Leyva which we had a wonderful BBQ with. Sabine, Andy, Karin and Manfred.
While in Villa De Leyva we visited the Terracotta house which was quite amazing, it felt like we were visiting the Flintstones.
The day we were leaving Valle De Leyva we found a little scorpion under the tent, this was the second time that happened…. eek
In Bogota for three weeks
On the way to Colombia’s capital, Bogota, we rode straight into a forest fire. We stopped the bike and took some photographs but the fire spread incredible fast so we could just take a few photos and then quickly leave. During only a few minutes while we stopped we could see the fire spread from one hill to another.
The first week in Bogota we stayed at a hotel that was quite nice and not that expensive. However, in the middle of the first night I was suddenly jolted awake by the sound of someone used a key to open the door and came in. I was just screaming ‘what the hell are you doing?’ Anders woke up totally confused, bless him. Anyway it was the night guard and he looked extremely guilty. After that we went to bed again but with two big bags in front of the door. The morning after we talked to the woman in the reception and she said he had made a mistake. He wanted to check if we had towels….. as if that was true. Who the hell check if there are towels in the room in the middle of the night… It felt really creepy.
We thought we would only stay in Bogota for a few days until the shock absorbers arrived but as the first parcels from Germany disappears we ended up staying for over three weeks. Finally, one day, the shock absorbers arrived and we were super excited. BMW in Bogota was suppose to replace the shock absorbers but they charged unfortunately far too much for that so we were suggested another garage, Motos Y Servitecas De Colombia, that were specialising in BMW’s. This turned out to be an excellent garage and the technicians were very skilled. The owner, Edgar, even took us for an traditional Colombian lunch, exceptional service.
While in Bogota we went to see the Gold museum that so many recommended. There were thousands and thousands of small gold figures and honestly there is just a certain amount of gold that can keep me awake… honestly, this is nothing that makes my heart beat any faster.
However, Museo Botero was more Anders and my cup of tea. The artist Fernando Botero Angulo is a fantastic figurative artist and sculptor from Colombia. His signature style, also known as “Boterismo”, depicts people and figures in large, exaggerated volume, which can represent political criticism or humor, depending on the piece. He is considered the most recognised and quoted living artist from Latin America. We also went on a guided graffiti tour in Bogota, which was very interesting.
When we, at last, left Bogota we headed towards Rio Claro. In less than an hour and from 17 to 40 degrees Celsius we had gone from 3000 metres down to 500 meters. After three weeks of perfect temperature in Bogota it was like riding straight into a sauna.
We arrived to Rio Claro just after it had become dark. To pitch a tent in the dark, in a jungle with an idiotic amount of insects is quite a challenging. That night we shared the tent with quite a few tiny insects in various forms and sizes that had strangely managed to get in through the mosquito net. It was extremely humid and hot but it was rather exciting to lay there in the dark and listen to intense sounds from animals, birds and insects during the night. Rio Claro is a private nature reserve with a picturesque winding river, with crystal clear water. There is a large amount of wildlife such as; toucans, monkeys, lizards, woodpeckers and bats. Early the morning after we went for a very nice hike along the river before we hit the road again.
From Rio Claro, we rode 130 km on a beautiful road to Guatape. My god I was so enjoying riding my bike with the new Touratech shock absorber. It was a tarmac road and it had a satisfying amounts of potholes and my god the bends were just like heaven, it went through the rolling green Colombian countryside, just so very beautiful so I didn’t want it to end. Nevertheless, it did end of course and we arrived to Guatape that must be one of the most colourful cities on earth.
When riding into Guatape, the huge El Peñol rock looked like it had raised the 198 metres out of nowhere. It is such a peculiar look. We decided to climb the 650 rickety steps to the top….. Pew that was hard. However, it was well worth the climb and as El Peñol is the only rock for miles and with the tiny islands spread out it looks rather bizarre, it looked unreal.
After a few days we left Guatape and rode to Medellin… which we regretted as soon as we arrived… OMG we are so tired of big cities and backpacker hostels. However we stayed one night and then left the morning after without seeing anything in Medellin and it felt bloody good.
From Medellin we rode about three hours to the tiny town Jardin. We couldn’t find a hotel in the town but was told there was a hostel, which was situated up in the mountain a few km outside the town. We found the place where we were allowed to pitch the tent in the garden. It was a tiny hostel and the owner was just the kindest person you can imagine. She let us use her private toilet and shower and charged us hardly anything for it.
While in Jardin we went for a ‘bird walk’ and saw the peculiar Andean Cock-of-the-rock bird. We saw lots of them but they were hiding in the dense jungle so it was not that easy to photograph.
We left Jardin a rainy and foggy morning and took the dirt road heading towards Manizales. We had a day riding on some awesome dirt roads, which later on turned into a fabulous winding tarmac road… what a fantastic day 🙂
Oh well maybe not all the road was awesome..
In Salento we hiked through the Cocora Valley. It was very misty and it rained cat and dogs the whole day. We took the long route, which took ages and we climbed up up and up…. I thought if we go any further we would be ‘knocking on heaven’s door’.
Anyway the rather challenging hike was worth it as the beautiful scenery was just outstanding. When the magnificent tall vax palm trees appeared it was just breathtaking. These trees can grow as high as 60 meter.
The day after it wasn’t raining so we went for another walk.
While in Salento we went, for the first time, on a coffee tour, Finka El Ocaso, which was really interesting though I don’t drink coffee. In fact I hate the taste of coffee. However, despite I hate coffee I promised Anders to taste it. The guide told us that this was sweet coffee not bitter at all…. Bloody hell, that was the bitterest I’ve ever tasted, Yuk!!
From Salento we took a small dirt road that climbed up to 3300 metres. The road was not on the map or in the navigator. It was a rather challenging road especially with the big loose stones and if that wasn’t enough we had some rain too. However after the rain comes always sunshine… oh well sort of.. The scenery, with lots of more vax palm trees, was probably the best so far in Colombia.
After a very long day we arrived to Ibague when it was pitch dark. We were very tired and hungry, as we hadn’t had anything to eat for the whole day. We found a hotel where we stayed two night though we were bombarded with big centipedes in the room.
Tatacoa desert was next on the list to visit. It was an awesome dirt road to the desert and it had some fantastic views. It is just something mesmerising with deserts. It is quiet, minimalistic and dry exactly how I like it 🙂 We pitched the tent under a ‘desert’ tree and had a fantastic sunset looking over the formations that in the light of the sunset changed colours constantly. When it was pitch dark we took the opportunity to take some night photos of the tent and bikes.
On the way to the border and Ecuador we stopped and took some photos of a church, Las Lajas Sanctuary, which is a basilica church located in the southern Colombian Department of Nariño, municipality of Ipiales and built inside the canyon of the Guáitara River. The present church was built in Gothic Revival style between 1916 and 1949
Colombia has been way beyond our expectations. It is very beautiful, incredible nice people, food not so bad and very very hygienic. I always feel a bit down when leaving a country. I have the feeling of that I have missed so much. Anyway as soon as I cross the border into another country I am very excited over what will come.
Ecuador next 🙂
Random photos from Colombia