While i'm getting my life back together, please look at a fine selection of my photos:

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Colombia III

Salento. Nice small town with a colonial feel. Outside Armenia.
Why go there? Well, euhm.. Don't no, i guess because i haven't been there. One could live without seeing this, but there was a great hostel and its a great base to visit Armenia and Pereira, two bigger cities nearby.

Ah, now i remember, besides that the central plaza is one big eat and drink fest during weekends, colombians like drinking and eating i noticed, the nearby Valle de Cocoa is a popular Hike destination.

Sunset from Dormitory. Cool.

Pereira and Armenia are midsized modern cities with nothing special to offer, as it turned out. Riding around in this area is great though.

Following pictures are from the road between Salento and Neiva, crossing a mountainrange max. alt. 3200 m. Cold!
Very cool road, lots of heavy transport traffic.

View from the road at the top.

Going down hil through the mountains.

Colombians like bicycles too! The road to Neiva was closed for an hour just to let the equippe pass.

Neiva to San Augustin.

I saw a travelbike at a fuelstation just outside Neiva.
Annette from New Sealand on her Suzuki DR650. She's Doing the same thing. Always cool to exchange stories.We saw each other again a week later in Popayan, after that in Quito. Brave, woman travelling alone on a bike. We tried to ride together to San Augustin, but managed to loose each other twice. Luckily we met in San Augustin again.

Her weblog.


Viewpoint overlooking Rio Magdalena. Beautiful.

Another impression of this stretch. Please let me know if you get bored with the look-how-great-the-roads-are pics!

San Augustin is know for its archeological sites. Interesting because there's not many of it in Colombia. They don't know anything about this civilization unfortunately.

It's quite different to what i've seen so far. But it all comes down to the same: It's either a burial place for important people or ceremonial sites.

Just my luck. De 18th of July seemed to be the day of Virgin del Carmen, which has something to do with travelers. Aparantly.

Between San Augustin and Isnos i got stuck in the middle of a few hundred mopeds, small motorcycles, cars, busses etc.

This was on my way to Iznos the end of the paved road to Popayan. Shortcut through the mountains.

The 'road' between San Augustin and Popayan is 130km of which 90 unpaved. Max. altitude 3200m. Rainy,cold, slippery.

..Which engineering genius engineered that spreading a fresh layer of a mix of mud and stones a is a good idea for road improvement?

The bike My love, my life and biggest concern proved her nickname, Old Faitful, once again. Pushed it through 90 km wet, rocky, slippery and rainy dirt road full of potholes, and i mean really full of potholes. Better description would be that sometimes there wasn't a pothole... Good thing it rained a lot and all potholes were filled with grey water which made them more visible.

Halfway the 90km reminded all of the sudden that similar road and weather conditions got me stranded 60 miles from
prudhoe bay, Alaska...did i mention this is cougar teritory??

Alternative is to backtrack two days. No backtrackin'! I learned from my Californian friend That
Wolff. So i just had to do it. At the end i didn't gain any time, spend a day recovering and cleaning the bike... But it delivers something to write about. Although i didn't see much of the environment, i'm sure that on a clear day the scenic views are awesome....

In short, everybody told me the road was bad.... and they were right ;-)

Quite an adventure, felt good to do something 'dangerous' again. After al, Colombia is way too comfortable.

If it wasn't for Uribe, it still would be a dangerous country. And my
trip would definitely more a straight line to Equador.

Uhm, let's discuss his strategy another time, ok? My impression is that everywhere i go people are happy the country is as good as safe for its inhabitants and it shows everywhere. One of the main things is the level of development of local tourism. From what i hear around me 4 to 5 years ago it was unsafe to travel to other big cities, even as a Colombian. So this clean up thing is a good thing, right?

At the end of the day the weather cleared and the last stretch to Popayán
was a real treat on good pavement and curvy roads. Ending the day like
this really made me feel happy. Still have those moments: Damn i'm lucky to be able to do this! Those moments when i recognize i'm actually (still) very happy and thankful with what i'm doing, makes it all worth.

Anyway, very pleased it did this. This would be a great day in an organized all-road tour !!

Road to Pasto. The landscape changes to dry mountainous andes style. 

Just before entering Pasto. Just stayed for the night and went  to Ipiales the next day to visit Las Lajas Sanctuary.

This sanctuary is build in an area where suposedly an image of Virgin Maria appeared on a rock. More about this here.
Beautiful neo gothic church.

I rushed out of Colombia. Time for something new. Colombia was a real treat. Fantastic motorcycle country. Diversity. Friendly people, lots of beautiful things to see and do. Did i mention the beautiful girls? The level of development of this country really surprised me. And if the country manages to remain politically stable i see a great leap in international tourism in the near future. Current slogan from the ministry of tourism is: Colombia, the only danger is that you want to stay! True, very true....

All pictures of Colombia can be seen here.

Next story: Ecuador!