22.3.21. Bogotá to Puerto Boyacá

203ml Done over 5 days cycling. After riding out of the city with Nicolos showing me the way, I head for Zipaquirá. It’s only 33ml so I arrived early and booked into family haclans hotel for 2 nights as I want to visit the salt cathedral tomorrow. It’s a nice town with a nice town plaza and the catedral de sal is an underground Roman Catholic church built within the tunnels of a salt mine 200 metres underground in a halite mountain.

Zipaquirá
Cycle path on route to Zipaquirá
plaza principal in Zipaquirá
On the way down the tunnel to the catedral de sal
200m underground

The next day I make my way 52ml to La Vega. It’s a good day till I get to El Rosal and the heavy rain started, so it was on with the waterproofs and heaving up the 10ml climb up to 2,400m. When I started the decent down to La Vega I was cold and stopped for a hot coffee and the views were great. In la vega, most of the hotels had swimming pools but I managed to find one for £8.

The heavy rain starts in El Rosal
Beautiful views from the top of the climb.

Stunning views

Next day was 36ml to Gauduas. First 10ml was downhill then it was 16ml uphill. It was a tough climb and at the top, the traffic was stopped for line painting, they let me go through and I had the road all the way down to myself, 6ml of no traffic, bliss. I found a nice place to stay called abuela casa. Really nice place and I nearly stayed another day as the town was so nice.

Just before starting the climb
The plaza at Gaudaus

40ml the next day to La Dorada. First 8ml was uphill on a quiet road and then it was down for 6ml and mainly flat the rest of the way. Dorada was a busy town and I had a few beers in the plaza before bed in a noisy hotel.

On the way to Dorada

Next morning I recieved a reply from warm shower host’s, ilmer and Nancy. He said I could go to his finca, out in the countryside for the weekend if I liked so I got my head down and raced the 42ml as fast as I could as they were waiting for me. I had a great weekend and ilmer’s brother, Nelson, arrived and we went to a little bar to play Tejo. It was a great day and I will always remember that weekend as I also watched ilmer get honey from his bee hives in a proper bee keeping suit.
Ilmer said I could stay a while and so I decided to stay longer in Puerto Boyacá at llmer and Nancy’s house. They are very kind, ilmer teaches English and French and is studying Chinese, so I get lots of advice for learning Spanish. I even watch humming birds every morning in the garden while having breakfast.
I also met David, the street artist who I met 2 months ago in Carmen, He’s here drawing caracatures in the main plaza and we have a few beers in the evenings in our favourite bar teaching each other English and Spanish.

Racing across to Puerto Boyacá
Ilmer & Nancy
Learning about bees.

Having breakfast watching humming birds.

Catching the lancha across to Puerto Perales
Ilmer found a nest at the finca.
Macaws on the road to the finca
David the talented artist.

19.2.21. Landazuri to Bogotá

215ml. 8 days cycling. Day 1- 33ml to Vélez. I knew it would get hilly now but I only managed 33ml today. It was raining when I set off but it wasn’t too cold and I was soon warmed up! The first 26miles was uphill reaching 2,600m. Landazuri sits at 1,100m asl. As far as long climbs go, there’s one at 54ml in Colombia, so this was a little one in comparison. I was cold when I finally reached the top of the climb but the last 6ml was downhill and the sun appeared. I could see Vélez on the way down and was glad to find a room and rest my weary leg’s.

Leaving Landazuri behind
Even the horse is tired

Fantastic views today

Day 2. 17ml to Puente Nacional. I got a reply from a warm shower host not far away and after Mario came to meet me on his bike, we ride to his town and have a coffee and lunch in the beautiful town square and I decide to stay the night. The next day Mario shows me a quiet route over a mountain towards villa de leyva. When we reach the start of the climb we swap bikes and Mario rides my heavy loaded bike all the way up the 10ml unpaved road. He loved it and so did I as it was easier for me on his MTB. At the top, we visit a memorial dedicated to the 1,000 day war of 1902 and there’s a small shelter there, where a kind lady selling snacks, gives me and Mario empanadas and soup, and I decide to pitch my tent and stay the night.

Coffee in the beautiful town square of puente nacional
Happy and strong Mario cycling 10ml to the top of the mountain.
The old station, on route we cross the old Bogotá-puente nacional rail line
Memorial of the 1,000 day war.

My peaceful camp for the night.

After packing the tent and riding downhill all the way down a the unpaved path, I stop for breakfast in Santa Sofía. Then I went to Villa de Leyva, a beautiful old town, the streets and large central plaza are still paved with cobblestones, and many buildings date from the sixteenth century. A man came talking to me called Rob and he was from Oldham. He was living in Tunya and had travelled on a bus to visit the town.

The nice plaza of Santa Sofía
The massive beautiful plaza of Villa de Leyva

The cobbled streets of Villa de Leyva

I spent a while having a coffee and chatting with Rob and find a cheap hotel in the next town called Sáchica. The next morning I received a reply off a warm shower host at Raquirá and Jeronimo was fantastic. I stayed 5nights and even helped him repair a roof on his cousin’s house. He introduced me to el Mano who did voice overs in English and American for advertisements. When I heard him speak, and he did speak the queen’s English, I couldn’t believe he wasn’t an Englishman. He lived most his life in Bogotá as a cycle courier and learnt the English from BBC radio and TV.

Beautiful colourfull buildings of Raquirá with tributes to Nairo quintana
El Mano and Jeronimo took me on the bikes to visit this nice waterfall.

After leaving Raquirá I take an unpaved road to San Miguel de Sema, it was tough. I had to push a lot of the way because it was steep and not a good surface. But after San Miguel, it’s a better road and make it to Guachetá.

Lots of pushing uphill this morning
The beautiful church at San Miguel de Sema.

After Guachetá it’s 33ml to Suesca where I plan to stay. Another tough day on unpaved roads up to 3,000m asl. 5ml short of the town it started to rain hard so I sheltered for a while but realized it would go dark soon so I carried on 3ml uphill then down as slowly as I went up due to the bad road surface and heavy rain. Because it is a tourist town the rooms I found were expensive but eventually I found a cheap hospedaje and was I glad. I was cold and wet, it had gone dark but the room had hot water, the first one for a while. Paved roads all the way to Bogotá now, next night I stay at Guasca and stay a while to look around Guatavita, a nice town on the edge of a reservoir, and get a room just before the rain came. Last 30ml to Bogotá today and a cyclist came alongside me who spoke English. His name was Nicholos and after chatting a while he gave me his number and offered me a place to stay. I couldn’t believe my luck. His house was even in the Teusaquilla area where I was planning to stay. I had to cycle over the mountain 1st, the top is 3,060m, then it’s 6ml down to Bogotá city which sits at around 2,600m. So it’s a little chilly in the evening and mornings. I ended up staying at nicolos’s house for 2 weeks and loved taking his dog, Chester, for walks everyday. I really enjoyed my stay and Nicolos was very kind and a great guy. I loved hearing his stories about the 2 year trip when he cycled all the way up the Andes from Argentina back to Colombia.

Nicolos and Chester
I walked up Monserrate and had fantastic views.
View down to Bogotá city.

Every Sunday is ciclovia, over 120kms of roads around Bogotá city are closed to cars for the cyclists.

11.2.21. Mompoz to Landazuri.

304 miles done over 6days cycling. Day 1 45ml to El Banco. Flat route today but tough in the heat again. Steady and plenty of water stops along the way, town was a little scruffy looking on the river but the hotel was nice called JR hotel. Good panaderia next door with a good breakfast.

nice river view from El Banco

day 2, 12.2.21. 68ml. El banco to Aguachica. No drama again today, flat until last few Kms was a climb up. I didn’t bother going into town and stayed at a roadside hotel just off the exit road. Cheap and quiet and good food in the cafe 100m further back up the road.

Bridge over the river on route.

day 3. 44ml To San Alberto. Got a cloudy start today so it was cooler cycling untill dinnertime. I got to San Alberto and found a nice cheap room. It’s a nice little town and I decide to have a day off and clean the bike and change the chain.

Well a chickens foot in my soup mmm.

Day 4. 64ml to Peroles. Nothing exciting today, found a roadside petrol station that had cheap rooms so decided to stay here. Next day was more of the same, 41ml to Rio Guayabito and another roadside hotel. Road is a little dangerous to ride on when there’s no shoulder because people overtake coming towards you and you are forced to go off the road. Had my 1st puncture for a long time today too!

Off road again as people overtake coming towards you. You have to take care on some roads.

Day 6. 17.2.21. 42ml to Landazuri. I turned off on to a quieter road today heading to Landazuri. I’m starting to do some climbing now as I approach the Andes mountain range. The last 8ml is an uphill climb to the small town of Landazuri and I find my cheapest hotel so far, £3 for the night. It’s got a nice town square and I decide to take a day off as I’m feeling tired after the climb yesterday.

Road up to Landazuri.
Beautiful tree in the town plaza.