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Old 02-06-2013, 08:26 PM   #1591
nightflyer
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Mud!

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Originally Posted by JDowns View Post
Hola TM,

I need a mud bath. Volcan del Tumo. Check chief. I'll do a google search and find it. I'll be in Pamplona tomorrow on the way to Cucuta. Almuerza de pizza sounds good to me. More pictures coming to whet your appetite. Wish you were down here amigo. It sure beats winter in the midwest.

I like your idea of cutting back south to Cucuta after Carnivale for some Venezuelan mountain riding. Not that I have anything against Maracaibo and oil refineries with lots of straight boring roads. Well okay, maybe I do.

Saludos,
Juanito
+1 on the mud volcano, but they may have change the name though, it was called volcān de lodo el totumo, when I was there IIRC

Camping in the Tayrona national park was also a highlight of my trip! Might be a bit too expensinve for a minimalist adventure though, don't remember how much it was!

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Old 02-06-2013, 08:31 PM   #1592
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Originally Posted by nightflyer View Post
+1 on the mud volcano, but they may have change the name though, it was called volcān de lodo el totumo, when I was there IIRC

Camping in the Tairona national park was also a highlight of my trip! Might be a bit too expensinve for a minimalist adventure though, don't remember how much it was!
Hi nightflyer,

With endorsements from you and Throttlemeister, there's no way I'm missing out on the volcanic mud action.

I did a quick google search on Tayrona national park and all I can say is WOW! How can I not go to that little slice of heaven. I'll report back what I find.

Thanks for the tip. That place looks awesome!

Saludos,
Juan Tayrona
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Old 02-07-2013, 10:12 AM   #1593
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Throttlemeister View Post
Don't forget the Volcano or Mud, something like Volcan del Tumo in Spanish, right off the road a few kms on the way to Cartagena. Its worth a dip and depending on the timing might be free, it's worth a dip imho, I've been twice and looking forward to the next time.

SS sounds like he got you set up with waypoints for Cucuta crossing, let me know if you need anymore. I've got one for an insurance place in VZ at the border, A year policy was all I could find at it was like $30 US for my bigger bike.

The crossing at the North is not as nice taking long straight hot roads leading to it. I would only take that one if you are really wanting to go to the Northern most point in SA on that pennisula in Colombia or go above Lake Maracaibo and out to Coro in VZ.

I would hit the coast and head down to Cartagena and then head back down South on the West side of the Magdelena River and cross back over to Cucuta. As mentioned earlier, Pamplona is a nice little college town with a good pizza shop. Getting to and from Cartagena you have to make some flat ground riding but hey it's Colombia and the people you meet along the way even make it better. Cartagena is worth the look, beautiful old city.

The Tres Cordilleras are the three nice mountain ranges you get to pass through in Colombia. It is also the shared name of one of the good independent beers of about three or four nice microbrews in Colombia

Looking forward to more pictures
+1 on all TM said.... The crossing at La Guajira is nothing to write home about. HOT and FLAT for thousands of km... Even if you do go to La Guajira to the northernmost point in SA, since you don't have time-issues, I'd turn around through Colombia and cross at Cucuta.

The pizza place in Pamplona is located across the street from the "fancy" Hotel Cariongo (about three blocks from the central plaza with the church)... There was a cheap hotel on the plaza with the church, but you might be able to find cheaper if you go higher towards the road.

Buen viaje Juanito Fotografo (de ColombianAs )
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Old 02-07-2013, 10:20 AM   #1594
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JDowns View Post
Hi nightflyer,

With endorsements from you and Throttlemeister, there's no way I'm missing out on the volcanic mud action.

I did a quick google search on Tayrona national park and all I can say is WOW! How can I not go to that little slice of heaven. I'll report back what I find.

Thanks for the tip. That place looks awesome!

Saludos,
Juan Tayrona
Shitty thing about Tayrona is it is EXPENSIVE to get in... The beaches are nice, but not worth the entry price IMO... And you get charged extra being a foreigner (legit fees published at the park entrance).... Taganga is free and laid back...

Santa Marta has two beaches... The actual Santa Marta beach close to the port and then there is Rodadero Beach, which is the touristy part of town.

+1 on the mud-volcano name being Volcan del Totumo (the actual mud-pools being Lodo del Totumo)
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Old 02-07-2013, 11:24 AM   #1595
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Originally Posted by SS in Vzla. View Post
Shitty thing about Tayrona is it is EXPENSIVE to get in...
Santa Marta has two beaches... The actual Santa Marta beach close to the port and then there is Rodadero Beach, which is the touristy part of town.

+1 on the mud-volcano name being Volcan del Totumo (the actual mud-pools being Lodo del Totumo)

I must be tight too I skipped Tayrona too and went and hung out with Len from Earth Wind Tires in Rodadero which was a nice time with the regular tourists
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Old 02-07-2013, 03:37 PM   #1596
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Just got in to San Gil. The internet here is quite slow. Another great day of mountain riding thanks to suggestions Throttlemeister PMed me last night. Only sixty miles down the road from Bucaramanga but I burned a lot of gas getting side tracked on epic detours.

Pictures slowly uploading.

Stand by.....
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Old 02-07-2013, 04:37 PM   #1597
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Hung out in Bucaramanga at my posh hotel until checkout at noon. Cleaned up so I don't look like a hobo. Went down the street and stopped at a shop to see about getting my steering head bearings tightened up a tad. They got right on it:



They said a fellow from Texas had stopped by in September on a DL650 Weestrom. Wonder who that was. I tried to pay them but they wouldn't take my money. Said it was free for a fellow traveler. Super nice guys.

So I headed south out of town in thick traffic. Flowing like a river with equal amounts of motorcycles and cars. My new left mirror is oh so helpful seeing whats coming up behind me on the left.

The boys adjusted the steering head bearings perfectly. No more waggle in the tight hairpins. Like riding on rails now. I swear the Sherpa is better than ever, which is a good thing because as traffic thinned out I saw a brown sign that indicated a touristic site off to the right. It is like the blue signs in the U.S. that indicate scenic byways. This one had a guy with a telescope and pointed off to the right to a scenic byway to La Mesa Los Santos. Sounded good to me so I took a derecha and headed up switchbacks towards the sky. Really fun road that switchbacked up the cliffs:



up on the mesa it flattened out through an idyllic area of rustic mossy stone walls:



and pastures with horses and cattle. A little slice of heaven up on this mesa. And then it dropped into a saddle to the little Pueblo of Los Santos. It looked like little Italy with whitewashed houses and red tile roofs:





and a beautiful church in the main square:



continuing on the road had spectacular views down into the valleys below:



The hairpins were more than 180š so they had special signs:



Dropping down off the mountain on tight twisting roads with beautiful views out to the valleys below:



The mountain scenery in Colombia is too big to be captured by a camera. You really have to get down here and ride these roads.

Here is my buddy at one mirador I stopped at:



Finally dropped down onto 45B which is a twisting road south towards Bogota. Throttlemeister pointed me to this Caņon del Chicamocha. What a great road!!
The mountains closed in and the road was nothing but curves through the tight canyon:





With a river rushing down below:



This section reminded me of Eastern Oregon winding down Picture Gorge on the John Day River. And then it hit the Chicamocha river and the mountains got HUGE.

Looking down the switchbacks towards the Chicamocha river. There are huge oversized dump trucks down there collecting sand and gravel. Kind of hard to make out in this picture:



and the switchbacks heading back out of the canyon up to the top:



Lots of slow trucks on this road. Easy to pass since they're only going 10mph or so. Looking back at the canyon from the top:



Stopped at the top of the canyon at the Chicamocha National Park:



They have a teleferica (tram) that drops down into the canyon and heads up to the other rim of the canyon:



It drops down at a 45š angle and offers spectacular views out over the canyon. It looked like it would take about an hour to go over and back, so I hopped on the Sherpa and kept riding. Lots of goats up here on the side of the road:



Finally dropped down off the mountain towards the town of San Gil. A semi had flipped on the road and was blocking traffic. No problem on the Sherpa. I just whipped down the road for 5 miles or so left and right of the stopped traffic. In the ditch. Up and around to the left and eventually arrived at the wreck and squeaked around. Truckers had slung their hammocks under their trucks so it looks like this blockage had stopped up traffic for a few hours or so.

Headed into town and hit the cajero automatico for some money. Tried to find the hotel that Throttlemeister pointed me to but it was a zoo. Quite a touristic town with lots of nice looking folks walking around. I think I saw a couple gringos but it's hard to tell when so many Colombians look like Americans.

Finally headed up the hill across the bridge to a nice place for 15.00 with slow wifi and cable TV.

I spent 54,300 pesos (32.75) today on food, gas and lodging.

Buenos noches mis amigos de aventura,
Juan Tres Cordilleras
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Old 02-07-2013, 05:15 PM   #1598
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Should have dug out a way point for you in San Gil, sorry man. At least there are plenty of hotels in the touristy town, nice main square, good place to hang out. It's should be this location: N6 33.160 W73 07.912 I had it marked as a hotel labeled "Cen Real" cheap and good internet just a block or so off the main square.

Glad you liked the canyon, it pretty impressive and is worth a ride or two through it. Looking forward to seeing how you return tomorrow. Lots of good roads in the area, I remember seeing some off that canyon road that made me want to explore more in the area.


edit, link to town map and hotel location of above waypoint.
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Old 02-07-2013, 05:26 PM   #1599
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Originally Posted by Throttlemeister View Post
Should have dug out a way point for you in San Gil, sorry man. At least there are plenty of hotels in the touristy town, nice main square, good place to hang out. It's should be this location: N6 33.160 W73 07.912 I had it marked as a hotel labeled "Cen Real" cheap and good internet just a block or so off the main square.

Glad you liked the canyon, it pretty impressive and is worth a ride or two through it. Looking forward to seeing how you return tomorrow. Lots of good roads in the area, I remember seeing some off that canyon road that made me want to explore more in the area.


edit, link to town map and hotel location of above waypoint.
Hola TM,

Thanks so much for pointing me down that road. What a hoot!

There were some killer looking goat trails heading off the main road. I could spend quite a lot of time riding the backroads around here. I think I'll head down to Pamplona tomorrow on backroads. I need some good pizza and Pierro's sounds like my kind of place. We'll see if I make it that far tomorrow. Easy to get sidetracked around here.

Muchas gracias amigo por todo!
Juanito
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Old 02-07-2013, 05:26 PM   #1600
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Awesome. Since you went to San Gil I recommend Parque El Gallineral. Should you decide to ho south instead of north to Curramba (Barranquilla) Villa de Leiva is one of my favorites (take 45A).

Southeast on 64 will get you to Parque el Cocuy which is absolutely spectacular. Hey, you could even do a Llanos Orientales loop though not sure how safe it will be. Nothing but twisties if you stay in Las Cordilleras though La Guajira is magic as well.

I'm sure that wherever you decide to go, you'll report back saying that the locations and people are very nice.
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Old 02-07-2013, 05:48 PM   #1601
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Originally Posted by trespalacios View Post
Awesome. Since you went to San Gil I recommend Parque El Gallineral. Should you decide to ho south instead of north to Curramba (Barranquilla) Villa de Leiva is one of my favorites (take 45A).

Southeast on 64 will get you to Parque el Cocuy which is absolutely spectacular. Hey, you could even do a Llanos Orientales loop though not sure how safe it will be. Nothing but twisties if you stay in Las Cordilleras though La Guajira is magic as well.

I'm sure that wherever you decide to go, you'll report back saying that the locations and people are very nice.
+1 on Cold El Cocuy
I was planning on going South out of El Coyuy and loop around the National Park but the locals (along with the need to find some bearings in Bucaramanga) talked me out of it and instead I went up to Pamplona and then back to the East and around the National Park and crossed into Venezuela at the nice border crossing of Aracua, I think this one is the best, 2nd most remote one to that of river town border crossing of Puerto Ayacucho that hardly any foreigners use. Even I was advised against using the roads that are closest to Venezuela as being dangerous, they do have a sort of feel to them in that area No problems for me and I ran into some nice people.

No need for HW64 all the way, there are too many of those perfect little mountain roads in the area. Map with San Gil in the far left instersected by purple and teal tracks, not hardly a straight road to be found in the whole area, this was all crazy good riding, some very cold and I was glad to have my heated jacket
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Old 02-07-2013, 05:53 PM   #1602
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Originally Posted by trespalacios View Post
Awesome. Since you went to San Gil I recommend Parque El Gallineral. Should you decide to ho south instead of north to Curramba (Barranquilla) Villa de Leiva is one of my favorites (take 45A).

Southeast on 64 will get you to Parque el Cocuy which is absolutely spectacular. Hey, you could even do a Llanos Orientales loop though not sure how safe it will be. Nothing but twisties if you stay in Las Cordilleras though La Guajira is magic as well.

I'm sure that wherever you decide to go, you'll report back saying that the locations and people are very nice.

Hola Ricardo,

I'm heading to Carnivale in Baranquilla. I just got a little side tracked today heading south to go north. It's Pamplona tomorrow on backroads.

Okay, Parque El Gallineral does sound nice and it's just up the road. Might have to check it out in the morning.

As far as nice people, I just call them like I see them. The Colombians I met today were awesome. Starting with the moto shop that wouldn't take my money and ending with the nice receptionist here at the hotel who cut me a deal on a nice room for 15 bucks:



Crap photo of her looking intently at the computer instead of the sweet smile a second before the camera clicked.

Saludos,
Juanito
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Old 02-07-2013, 07:01 PM   #1603
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Bravo!

Knew you had it in you John, thanks for the pics of the roads with curves....
and of curves in hotels as well.

Great RR - looking forward to what comes next.

-Larry
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Old 02-08-2013, 03:36 AM   #1604
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Originally Posted by SS in Vzla. View Post
Shitty thing about Tayrona is it is EXPENSIVE to get in... The beaches are nice, but not worth the entry price IMO... And you get charged extra being a foreigner (legit fees published at the park entrance).... Taganga is free and laid back...

Santa Marta has two beaches... The actual Santa Marta beach close to the port and then there is Rodadero Beach, which is the touristy part of town.

+1 on the mud-volcano name being Volcan del Totumo (the actual mud-pools being Lodo del Totumo)
Hi SS,

Taganga sounds like a nice alternative for the financially challenged. Look forward to the coast if I can find my way north out of the Colombian mountains. Pretty nice down south around here.

Saludos,
Juanito
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Old 02-08-2013, 06:08 AM   #1605
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So far Colombia has proven to be a great country to break down and get things fixed in a timely manner. The warmth and generosity of the Colombian folks I've met so far has been a true delight. I had heard that this is a wonderful country to visit, but you never know until you get someplace if it is somewhere you will like. Which is why I always like to make up my own mind rather than relying on the warnings of others.

Everywhere I have gone so far has been considered dangerous and inhospitable by the people in the preceding countries. Don't get me wrong. You may hate Colombia. Everyone has their own likes and dislikes. Which is why I try not to recommend things to people unless I know them fairly well.

Plus I think people respond to your energy. If you are a sourpuss by nature then people will treat you like one. I try to joke around and have fun and not take life too seriously.

People seem interested in pinning you down as to where you're going and how long you'll be on the road. It's only human nature. I really have no idea, but understand that wandering around aimlessly, goofing off and having a good time on crazy good back roads until my money runs out is an unsatisfactory answer. This week I am telling people I'm headed to Baranquilla and Carnivale which is a very satisfying answer to all who hear it.
It's kind of like when I was traveling in India. The locals couldn't understand someone with no children. Being a vagabond with no children just wasn't cutting it. So to stop feeling like a pariah, I finally had to invent a son who was studying engineering and a daughter who was a nurse.

But in truth I am just a solo vagabond wandering around aimlessly, meeting nice people and having a good time on crazy good back roads until my money runs out. I have no desire to rush through South America. It is a HUGE continent and could keep a traveler busy for years. When I'm broke I'll head home, earn more money and return for more.

Saludos,
Juan Viajero
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