I haven’t written anything on this blog since I completed my trip. I have a few things I plan on writing about, but for now, I’ve simply decided to compile a few posts from my Instagram page of my trip. This covers the first three weeks of my trip in Colombia, from my arrival in Bogota to my departure from Medellin.
Well, today was my toughest day on a bike ever. I started off in Suesca, which is a big rock climbing area, and ended up in Villa De Leyva, which is known for its massive central square. It took 110k of pedaling, 2800m elevation gain, lots of long, steep climbs on dirt, one incredibly long and steep descent and a wrong turn that sent me going downhill the wrong way. Not to mention most of it was above 2500m altitude. There was also lots of views like this, giving me a good excuse to stop and catch my breath. Needless to say, I'm slightly crushed and my take my first day off sooner than planned.
Las Rocas de Suesca – where I camped on Sunday after a relatively mellow day biking out of Bogota (relative to Monday). I arrived just before sunset to the sound of climbers grunting their way up the cliffs. It's clearly a popular weekend destination for climbers, as the area emptied out and I had a private campground for the night.
It's always nice to get to the top of a long climb and look down at the road you're about to descend. This was after the ascent from Villa De Leyva, on the way down to Arcabuco. My entire ride was through verdant farmland, with amazing views around each corner. Eventually I wound up in the hot springs town of Paipa where I went for a soak and found a place to camp.
Last night I was harassed constantly by an angry dog who didn't appreciate me camping where I did. It barked viciously and snarled outside my tent constantly – and this was at a hotel with a camping area. Tonight, I booked a room with a view in Mongui, which lives up to its billing as the most attractive town in Boyaca. I'm not doing well at this dirt bag living.
I ditched the bike for a hike today in the Paramo Oceta outside Mongui. It is a beautiful area covered with plants called frallejones that only exist in this ecosystem and serve as a reservoir for Colombia's water. We walked as high as 4,000m , which was hopefully a good warm-up for the next leg of my trip to San Gil.
Colombia hasn't been very friendly for wild camping so far since most of the land is fenced off by farmers. Two nights ago, I pedaled up into the paramo on the way to San Gil and found this perfect spot at the side of the road at an elevation of 3,800 metres. I was near the top of the climb and still had energy and daylight, but it was too good to pass up. Yesterday I rode 100 km and 3,000 metres of downhill to San Gil, the "adventure capital of Colombia."
The last three days out of San Gil were a mix of everything – tough climbs, sweltering heat, pouring rain, rattling descents, thick mud, charming towns, friendly people who let me camp under shelter outside their stores, and a long stretch of the Pan- American Highway to finish things off. Three more days and I should be in Medellin.
After crossing the Magdalena River three days ago, I really feel like I entered the middle of nowhere. I spent a night in the village of Puerto Garza, which was in the middle of a dark valley and I slept at a posedaje that was like a prison cell, but it had a shower. The next day I slowly re-entered civilization and the roads gradually improved. After a long climb this morning, I stopped in the scenic, tourist town of Guatape for a break before heading to Medellin.
Medellin was a good time, soaking up the sights and sounds of the city with @juliancoopa. I could spend more time here but I'm also keen to hit the road again. Today I'm heading to the Casa De Ciclista just outside of town, which is owned by a bike mechanic. A Casa De Ciclista is basically a home that's been opened up for bike tourers and there's several of them throughout South America. I'm hoping to meet some other cyclists and get my bike in for a tuneup before starting the journey into southern Colombia.