Travelreport No 42, Colombia, part 1, 3.11. - 1.12.2010

Leticia - Bogota - Neiva - San Agustin - Popayan

Totally soaked from the heavy rain and the flooded streets we reach the airport of Leticia, and before we are able to pack our bikes, we have to pour the water out of our shoes. The flight from the Amazon to Bogota was impressing - endless deep rainforest with brown big rivers and rare tiny jungle villages. In Bogota, the 7.5 million capital of Colombia, we are allowed to stay with the very kind and hospitable long term cyclists Angelica and Claudio, and they do make us feel at home immediately. After the long awaited arrival of our daughter Tanja, we visit together the fantastic Gold Musem which hosts gold pieces from most of Colombia's major pre-Hispanic cultures. The center of Bogota is a cycling paradise, especially on Sundays, when 150 km of the streets become traffic free and thousands of people all ages cycle. And it also has one of the most extensive cycleways, with over 300 km of bike paths, exlusively for cyclists! So we do take the chance and leave the city on a Sunday. Fast, Bogota lies behind us, then many long and beautiful downhill runs through great landscapes. The vegetation is changing constantly, from lush green with rice- and sugercane fields and mango plantations to the arid zone of the Tatacoa desert with its famous mother-in-law-chair-cacti which produce delicate fruits.After crossing the Magdalena valley it gets green again, the farmers grow tabac and on often very steep slopes many coffee plantations can be admired. Cycling in Colombia is perfect, respectful drivers and warmhearted, hospitable people make our trip here a great experience.

In San Agustin we may stay again with long term cyclists, with famous Paola and Igel (casa de ciclista). They receive us with open arms, even so we are the 97. cyclists visiting them this year. They live above the village on their Finca, together with 3 nice dogs. They spoiled us and the pizza baked in the (from Igel self made) Pizzaofen, on a baking tray built into a cycle rim, was just another highlight at their place. The Archeological Park with an incredible array of carved monumental stones and statue-guarded crypts are astounding, as well as other sites with stunning views of the canon of the Rio Magdalena. Cycling on, via the fog-cloaked pass to Coconuca and Popayan, it was raining and the stoney and muddy road gave us a hard time, but the especial vegetation was worth the effort.

In Popayan, in the house of Maria Cecilia and Hansruedi Auer, we are warmly welcome. Staying several days with them, we learn from Hansruedi a lot about coffe, from planting to export. With Maria Cecilias guiding us, we visit the architectural treasures of Popayan. The whitewashed city was rebuilt and beautifully restored after the violent earthqake in 1983. To see the Gambian Indians in the town of Silvia on the marked day was awarding too. Men and women wear their typical blue and fuchsia costumes. Tanjas holidays unfortunately end already. Therefor we are heading back in 15 hour ride by bus to Bogota. How nice to come back home to our friends Angelica and Claudio.

To say good bye to Tanja (cycling with her was just great but not slower at all!) was not easy, but we take comfort in the thought to meet our daughters again next year somewhere on the road.


Start with Tanja

Rio Magdalena

Way to Popayan

Market in Silvia with Gambiano Indios