Adventure Riding in Colombia

Monday, February 25, 2013, Puerto Lago, Ecuador, Hosteria Puertolago.

Yikes, I need to get caught up, it’s already Monday the 25th??.

Thursday morning we decided to split up, Keith and Jim wanted to ride to Cali for a stay in the city and do a zipline tour over the jungle canopy. Deby and I decided to go with Dave and Michael to a Turismo Rural stay at Villa Martha, a coffee farm run by Rafael, a retired civil engineer and his wife Martha. Villa Martha was a stop highly recommended by Gustavo at the BMW dealer in Bogota and he helped us make a reservation. Gustavo said the road (ruta 40) was a pretty twisty road through the mountains and the locals call it “the line”. We weren’t sure what that meant, but we would find out. Continue reading

Adventure Riding in Colombia Part 1

Sunday, February 24, 2013, Pasto, Colombia. Hotel Aura Maria.

Bogota is at about 8,000 feet above sea level so we had been enjoying cool temperatures with highs only into the low 70’s, a nice break from the consistent 90 degree temperatures in Central America. On Wednesday morning the sky was clear blue with perfect temperatures for us to gather our motos from the dealer and resume our journey.

By noon we had all the bikes back at Charlies Place with new oil, chains and filters, ready to be loaded. After four nights at the boutique hotel we became friends with the excellent staff and they came out to wish us buen viaje which is Spanish for have a nice trip. Continue reading

Bogota Part II

Friday, February 22, 2013. Near Pereira Columbia, Villa Martha coffee farm and resort.

An adventure motorcycle ride in Colombia cannot begin until the motorcycle is successfully imported into the country. Upon notice that our bikes had arrived on Monday we had our driver, Gustavo, deliver us to the Bogota Girag office to receive the bikes. Thus began a 4.5 hour ordeal to spring free 6 motorcycles through customs and retrieve them from the Girag warehouse.

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Touristas in Bogota

Tuesday, February 19, 2013, Bogota, Colombia. Charlie’s Place Hotel.

With the motorcycles in transit and not expected to arrive until Monday we had a few days off to explore our surroundings in Bogota. We spent most of the day Saturday on logistical things, we walked to the dealer to make sure we knew where it was and confirmed our bikes were scheduled for service on Monday. Explored the area around the hotel, did a little shopping and had a low key day. Part of the day involved extracting some local currency from the cash machines. The exchange rate is $1,800 Colombian pesos to the US Dollar, so that means to take out $100.00 US we would have to withdraw $180,000 pesos. I took out a cool half million pesos to cover me for a few days. The bills are in denominations of 50,000, 20,000 and 10,000 or 50mil, 20mil or 10mil. Mil means 1000 in Spanish. It always takes a few days to get used to the local currency with plenty of awkward moments trying to pay for things.

On Sunday we played tourista and bought tickets on a steam train to visit the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira. Continue reading

Jumping the Darian Gap into Colombia

Sunday, February 17, 2013, Bogota Colombia.

I stole the following narrative from this interesting site:

“The Pan-American Highway stretches from Cape Horn, Chile to Alaska with one 90 km break: The Darien Gap

This area is a forbidding mountainous jungle on the Panama side; full of swamps, guerrillas, drug traffikers and kidnappers on the Colombian side, making travel through the area not just a struggle against a hostile environment but also a maze of bribing the right people for passage and ducking bullets. 

In case you missed the dangers we just enumerated, here is an easy list to remember:
– tough nasty jungle with plenty of disagreeable wildlife.
– impenetrable swamps
– crazed drug traffikers
– pissed-off guerrillas
– greedy kidnappers (all of the guys mentioned above)
– paranoid government police
– no marked trails”

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