Toronto to Ushuaia

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by djeady, Oct 5, 2017.

  1. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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  2. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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    Mompos to San Alberto

    Got up in the morning and had a cold shower (the only option in most hotels) and went out to find some breakfast. Wound up at the same place we had dinner last night (in spite of stomach upset) and had scrambled eggs, arepas, and coffee). I think the reason we chose the place last night was the guy had a Canada t-shirt in - he said his sister lives in Montreal.

    Decided to stroll a bit further along the river and wound up chatting with 2 girls, one from Australia and one from California. The one from California was heading to Santa Marta to go to Ciudad Perdid so we chatted about it a bit. They told me there was another guy on a bike staying at their Hostal so I walked down that way and met Shane Zachary from Colorado who is riding an Africa Twin. We chatted for a bit and I asked if he had seen the cemetery and he had not, so he decided to walk up their with me with a stop for a tinto along the way.

    The cemetery is quite amazing. It consists of a wall of crypts along each side with some tombs between the walk and the crypts and a central chapel. While there are some headstones dating from the late 19th century in the floor of the chapel, most of the tombs and crypts are from the late 20th century to today.

    Shane and I decided to ride together for the day and he went off to pack up while I did the same.

    We headed off with a target of getting to Bucamaranga that day.

    The roads in Colombia are quite schizophrenic. There are some nice 4 lane highways, there are some nice 4 lane highways with only 2 lanes in use for no obvious reason, there are some good two lane highways and some bad two lane highways. No matter which of these you are on, the rules all change when you come to a town. You may find yourself picking your way through side streets until the highway restarts the other side of town. You may find that nothing in the town is paved and you are riding through ruts and potholes and dodging people, cows, pigs, goats, cows etc. Of course you see all of these on the 4 lane highways as well.

    This morning we started out on a bad 2 lane highway and quickly found ourselves on what can only be described as a very long motocross course. Shane loves the dirt and so we were blasting along dodging the worst of the potholes and flooded areas. Shane let me know via intercom that it looked like my right pannier was loose and so we pulled over to check it out. Sure enough, the repair I had done in Granada had broken again. I strapped it up as well as I could with some bungee cords and we carried on. We stopped a bit further on a Shane said it was still shaking quite a bit and so he added a strap which helped a lot.

    The next town was fairly large and we stopped at a small bike shop at the edge of town to see if there was a solduradura around. They directed us a couple of blocks away and we went there, but the guy wasn't there. While his wife tried to find him, Shane headed out to see if there was another place and came back after a while and said there was another place a couple of blocks away where the guy was all set up to do the work.

    I followed him over and Carlos did a great job of repairing the weld. He also added a piece of metal on each side so the brackets are much stronger. He asked for 20,000 COP - about $6. I gave him 30,000.

    We headed off again, picking our way through town (still on the motocross course). There where some very large puddles an I misjudged one and wound up blasting through about 16 inches of water. I made it through ok, but my bike was covered in mud and now really looks like a dual sport bike!

    We carried on for another few miles and suddenly we were on a 4 lane highway (still the same highway). For the rest of the afternoon we were on good road.

    Mid afternoon we stopped to eat and wound up having a large meal consisting of soup and fried chicken with rice and lentils. It also came with a large glass of juice. I couldn't finish my meal and had to apologize to the lady saying estoy lleno (i am full). We paid and headed off again. After a couple of hours Shane began to ride erratically and I didn't know if he was having a problem with the bike or what. He finally pulled over and when I got off to have a look he had a dead fruit bat draped over his right from turn signal.

    We took a couple of pictures and the discussed whether we should try and continue to Bucamaranga or find a place near where we were. We found a really nice place about 7k back in San Alberto and headed there. It was pretty good with underground parking and a pool - very clean and modern. We shared a double room for 65,000 COP a night - about $22.

    Once we got settled in we went out for a walk to find beer and I needed a beer charge cable for my iPhone - they don't hold up on the bike. I found a cable for $3. and we found a chicken place that had beer and we were able to order just a small plate of papas fritas each as we weren't very hungry. After finishing our fries and a couple of beer we went back to the hotel and called it a night. [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]


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  3. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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  4. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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    San Alberto to Medellin

    Had a good nights sleep and went downstairs to the bakery a couple of doors over and had a very nice ham and cheese croissant and a cafe con leche.

    We packed up and Shane headed off to ride in the mountains east of Bucaramanga and I headed off towards Medellin.

    The first part of the ride was all on nice 4 lane and 2 lane highway and I made good time and didn't stop for almost 3 hours when I stopped to fill my gas tank and have a snack.

    I continued on the road towards Bogota for another half hour or so, then turned south on Highway 62 towards Medellin.

    The first part of this road was a nice smooth two lane highway with sweeping corners and lots of trees completely overhanging the road - a very pretty ride. After a while the road started into the mountains and the views go even more spectacular and the corners got tighter and slower. I stopped for a few minutes in Santa Fe de Antioquia to take some pictures of an interesting church and then started on the road out of town which was a narrow twisting track up the side of a mountain. Across a deep valley there was a great view of a waterfall. I came around each corner I had to watch for the transport trucks which were often fully occupying my side of the road. It took a while to get up to the top and then the road down the other side was similar but with really nice views down the valley. I would love to have taken more pictures, but there really wasn't anywhere safe to stop.

    The road slowly improved and eventually took me to the road through Bello and into Medellin.

    Traffic became quite heavy and as I come into Medellin there had been an accident in the outbound lanes and all the lanes were closed. I could see a dump truch that was quite badly damaged. On the inbound side, everybody was stopping to have a look so the road was almost completely block. I had to follow the locals and practice my lane splitting skills to get through. I passed through several more areas of congestion before finally turningoff the main road and finding my hotel.

    Pixel House was nice - very quiet neighbourhood and I was able to park the bike in a paved area that was visible from the 24 hour reception and also from my room. The only downside was that it is a long walk to find something to eat. I had decided to go out in search of food, but whne I got to the lobby it was pouring rain so I decided to order something in.hat I ordered was an Antiochean specialty that bears some resemblance to Poutine. It had chunks of beef and chichen, chicharrones, cheese, rice, avocado, and other things as well. Very tasty.[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
  5. PaisaMed

    PaisaMed Adventurer

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    Toronto, CAN & Medellin, COL
    Welcome to Medellin.....pm me and we'll meet up.
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  6. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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    Sorry, long gone from Medellin - just behind on my posts.


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  7. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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    Exploring Medellin

    The hotel didn't seem to have any coffee so I went out to the bike and got my coffee and press and used a saucepan in the kitchen to boil some water. Nice to have a proper cup of coffee. So much of what you get here is instant.

    So how do you see as much as possible of a sprawling city of 4 million people in one day? You take the tourist bus.

    I walked over to the Aguacatala metro station and bought a card with two rides on it. Medellin is one of the few Colombian cities with a metro system (above ground). There are two main lines, plus buses and a network of cable cars that go up to the suburbs in the hills.

    I rode the one stop to Poblado station, then walked up Calle 10 to Poblado Park.

    I quickly found the tour company and booked my tour. Since the bus didn't leave until 10 I had some time to wander around the park a bit.

    It turned out I was the only one on the bus that morning, so I wound up getting a private guided tour of Medellin.

    Our first stop was Botero plaza which was the one place I had already decided I wanted to see. After a quick look at the Hotel Nutibara which was the first large hotel built in Medellin (they are proud of the fact Kennedy stayed there) we walked past the Museo Antioquia which is undergoing exterior renovation, we arrived in the Plaza Botero. There are 23 large scale sculptures in the park and we walked around and admired each of them.

    After this we went to the dreamers park which featured a number of family oriented activities including an acoustic telephone, recliners where you could lie down and look at the sky and a water feature. There is also a large plaza with a projection wall where they show movies at night.

    Next stop was The Barefoot park which has a series of features designed to relax your feet and get you back in touch with nature. First you walk barefoot over a rough gravel path, then over a finer gravel area, then sand, then grass finishing up by walking through a small pool with strong jets of water.

    Our final stop was Nutibara hill which provides a great view of the city and also has a nice display of photos showing the history of the city.

    We then returned to Poblado Park and I spent the rest of the afternoon wandering up Calle 19 and the nearby Leras Park with stops for coffee and then a local beer at a brewpub.

    For dinner, I went to a restaurant called Mondongos which had been [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]recommended and had the Typico Antioquia. See if you can identify all the components in this massive meal. [​IMG]


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  8. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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  9. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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  10. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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    Medellin Christmas Lights

    Medellin is know for it's Christmas light displays so I decided the way to see them was another tour bus, this time complete with a disco light and salsa music.

    Some of the other buses were packed and everybody was up dancing. Mine was fairly sedate, just me, a couple from Bogota, and a family from California wintering in El Salvador plus our tour guide, her nephew, and a friend of his.

    Interesting tour, especially the displays at Parque Norte, but I've now had enough Christmas displays to last me a few years.

    The Metro stops running at 10 and I had a bit of a challenge trying to explain to my cab driver where my hotel was, but eventually made it back and all was good. [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]


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  11. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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  12. JoeFab

    JoeFab Been here awhile

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    niagara falls, canada eh!
    You're doing a great job as a tour guide, keep up the good work !...j.f.
  13. BruceT

    BruceT Been here awhile

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    That art work is amazing !


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  14. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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    Guatape

    I was told by multiple people that I had to go to Guatape, so I went. Dan Long was going to be there and we agreed to meet up.

    I left the hotel just after rush hour and had a relatively easy ride up towards Guatape. The ride in from the main highway was a nice twisty road with great views of some farm country.

    The approach to Guatape is dominated by Piedra del Peñol, a giant granite rock that sits on the outskirts of town. They have put stairs up the side of the rock so you can climb up and see a spectacular view of the surrounding countryside (for a fee)

    I rode up and parked the bike, paid my fee and started the climb. It's about 750 steps to the top of the viewing tower on top. An easy hike after Ciudad Perdida.

    There are all kinds of tourist shops on top and add the bottom selling tons of cheap souvenirs and costume jewelry. I can understand most of it, but who would go to a massif in Columbia to buy a miniature Eiffel Tower or a rubber chicken? Maybe there's a souvenir supplier with a policy that says for so many necklaces or t-shirts you have to take 2 rubber chickens.

    Guatape is the Miskolc of central Columbia and attracts rich Colombians from Medellin and Bogota and elsewhere. The lake was created when the area was flooded for a power project (there's a drowned village at the bottom of the reservoir. And the shores and islands are line with cottages just as fancy as in Muskoka.

    The town's waterfront is lined with restaurants and there are also many around the main square.

    I got to the Oak Tree hostel after a scenic tour of the wrong area compliments of Google Maps.

    I checked in, then went for a walk into town. I sat and had a nice dessert on the waterfront, then wandered up to the main square taking pictures of the many highly decorated houses.

    I got a message from Dan Long saying he was just coming into town, so I walked back to meet him at the hostel.

    After he settled in we walked in to town and had a nice dinner at a restaurant in the main square. That had a stage set up in the square - we weren't sure what was going on, best guess is the school Christmas pageant. Some of the stuff done by the older kids was quite elaborate.

    After that we walked around for a bit then went back to the Hostal and called it a night. [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]


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  15. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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  16. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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  17. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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    Guatape to Manazales.

    I had been wrestling with whether or not to go to Bogota. I went to bed thinking not, woke up thinking yes and then over breakfast with Dan, I changed my mind again.

    I decided to head to Salento in the heart of coffee country. I didn't want to go back through Medellin as Google Maps suggested. Maps*me offered a route that went South and East of Medellin so I decided to try that.

    I rode back out to the Medellin Bogota Highway from Guatape and turned briefly towards Medellin, before turning off for Rio Negro.

    The roads were nice for a while with only the odd crazy detour through a town, which seems to be normal in Columbia.

    Then I was directed up this narrow street which had Christmas lights strung in an arch for about 4 blocks - kind of like a miniature Colombian version of Fremont street in Las Vegas.

    Next I was directed up a narrow dirt road into the hills. I rode for a few minutes thinking ok, this will turn into a paved road again shortly. When it didn't I stopped and checked both Maps*me and Google Maps and they both assured me I was only Hwy 25, so I carried on.

    After about 35 km of unpack road,4 water crossings, many mudslides and collapses shoulders, some mud, and at least 2 mountains and many spectacular views, I finally arrived back at a paved road. Then it got really interesting.

    Colombians like to build things like roads and towns on top of mountain ridges. The road ran across the top of a ridge with views probably 700 or 800 metres down on each side and continue on for quite a few miles before reaching the town of Santa Barbra which was perched precariously on the front of the ridge. The it descended down through sweeping turns to the valley below.

    Once down it followed a river back up the valley for many miles. It was a great road, but there were many delays in areas where there had been rock/mud slides or where the roadway had collapsed. There were also stretches where they were doing a re-alignment or just general maintenance.

    The only good thing is that at each stop the motorcycles pass everything and move up to the front of the line. Otherwise it was very slow and I realized there was no way I was going to make it to the hostel I had booked in Salento, so I cancelled the reservation and started looking for something closer. I settled on a place in Manzanales and headed that way.

    Manzanales is built on a high ridge and as I turned off into town I found myself going up and down incredibly steep hills - worse than San Francisco.

    I did one pass by where the Hostal was supposed to be and didn't see it so I went around several blocks through a maze of one way streets and what would have been rated as black diamond ski hills before pulling up just below where the hostel was supposed to be and parking on the sidewalk in front of an electronics store.

    I walked around the corner and there was a barber shop around the corner and I asked there. They said yes there was usually an off the books hostel at that address. The one guy went with me and we rang the bell and banged on the door, but no answer.

    I asked about other hotels and he told me the next street up was the Main Street and there were hotels there. It was Friday night and the street was closed off to be a pedestrian mall and it was packed. I walked a couple of blocks one way, but didn't see anything. There were a couple of police officers at one corner and I asked them and they pointed me in the other direction towards the Cathedral. Before I got to the place they mentioned I saw a sign that said hotel and found the hotel Beirut which was a nice modern hotel and had rooms available for a reasonable price. They didn't have parking for the bike though. Fortunately there was a secure parking garage for motorcycles next to the barber shop. I paid for a room and walked back to move my bike and get my bags. My bike looked like a monster next to all the scooters and 100cc bikes in the garage.

    I got settled in to the hotel and then went out for dinner. I had a nice little steak and fries for not very much money, walked around the main square for a few minutes, then went back to the hotel and called it a night. [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]


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  18. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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  19. djeady

    djeady Been here awhile

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    Manazales to Salento to Popayon

    Got up and was looking forward to a hot shower as I had noticed that there was lots of hot water when I did my sink laundry last night.

    Unfortunately there was not a lot of water pressure in the shower, so I had a weak, but hit, shower.

    Breakfast was included with my room so I went down to the food area on the second floor and had a nice breakfast with 2 cups of strong coffee -Nescafé in the middle of coffee country and the lady was singing some ditty about Columbia coffee as she served me.

    Got packed up and hauled everything over to the parking garage where I put it all back on to the bike and prepared to head out.

    I wasn't looking forward to getting out of the parking garage because it involved going down a short ramp and then turning right on to a 30 degree slope up the road. I have a history of dumping the bike on that kind of turn.

    This time I managed to negotiate it successfully and was able to ride out of the city without having to negotiate too many steep slopes up or down.

    I had a nice ride to the turnoff for Salento, then followed the twisting road into the town. I parked on a side street and locked the bike up and started to wander around looking in the shops and taking pictures of the brightly painted houses. I stopped for lunch at a place called Willys named for the original jeeps that are still an icon in this area. The restaurant had one out front that was converted into a coffee stand.

    I had trucha a la plata which is a local speciality along with a large glass of lulo. It was very tasty.

    Aftwerwards I went in to the coffee shop downstairs and had my first real coffee in Columbia and a slice of cheesecake.

    I wandered around a bit longer, then headed back to the bike. There was an older gentleman standing looking at the bike - I think he was a parking control officer. He wasn't there to give me a ticket, he was just fascinated by the bike and hesitatingly asked a few questions. He couldn't get his head around the idea that I had ridden from Canada. A couple of younger men parked next to me and started asking questions as well.

    I finally got away and rode out to the main road and then turned towards Popayan.

    There was a lot of traffic on the road and I spent a lot of time passing slow trucks. They are often underpowered down here and you can wind up stuck behind one riding in first gear and breathing diesel exhaust.

    The area around Cali is sugar cane country and I discovered a new road hazard - the tren canero. These truck trains consist of a tractor, the same as a transport truck, pulling 5 or 6 large wagons. You can see them both on the highway and crossing the highway. They are difficult to pass because of their length.

    I eventually got to Popayan and stopped at a gas station on the edge of town where I filled up with gas and looked for a hostal. I found one that seemed suitable and headed towards it. They didn't have single rooms, but I wound up having a room with 2 sets of bunk beds to myself which was fine.

    There was another bike parked in the small parking area and a while after I checked in I ran into its owner, William Gloege who is on his second bike trip around world on his Africa Twin. His first trip was on a KLR.

    We chatted for a bit, then went into town to find some food. We found a nice place and sat down and ordered. I ordered a beef dish expecting something that looked like a steak. Instead I got a large schnitzel and William's pork came the same way. In any case it was very tasty.

    We walked back to the Hostal and ran into Brian who was just checking in with his BMW 800 and we all sat together and had a couple of beer before calling it a night.
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]


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  20. Dlyttle

    Dlyttle Adventurer

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    Thanks for the entertaining reports. The story about how you came to stay were you did and the decent meal you had pretty much sums up why adventure riding is so satisfying most of the time. You always find a place to stay even when the best laid plans go astray.