A Month on a Bike in Colombia - 2019

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Champe, Nov 24, 2019.

  1. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the encouragement. Very glad someone finds this helpful.

    Gmax- thanks for the warning. I do not mean to whitewash the danger - it does need to be said. This vehicle burning incident was on the main road from Medellin to Cartagena. Probably my route this April. My Spanish is still poor but I gather it happened on a Monday night. ELN stopped and burned 6 vehicles - 2 trucks, 2 buses, and 2 cars. Stupid as hell. Does not look like they were after people.

    Does this incident advance the cause of the communists ? I don't think so. I think it has the opposite effect. Regular Colombians hate this. Destruction of private property is a communist idea. Anarcho-capitalists would never do this.

    What to do ? Probably not drive at night. I still do it, but keep it to a minimum. There are other reasons not to drive at night too, like you can not judge road conditions as well, and you can not enjoy the scenery.
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  2. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    When I initially read this post, I thought you meant they set the passengers on fire - which is more than horrifying. It doesn't sound/look like it from the article though, yes? Not that it wouldn't suck complete arse to have your ride set on fire, but I'd take that over being set on fire personally. Completely crappy either way, but believe clarification is good.
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  3. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    I am about out of my better photos of the trip. I will keep the poorer ones to myself. More to come in the Spring, when I will try to keep up with the likes of Quindio, RTW Paul and flyingdutchman77.

    But here is one of a little farm in the country that I admire. I have not researched real estate prices very much, but what I have seen varys greatly. There are people bragging about how great it is to live in a $1000 a month condominium. They must be from California. I have also heard of a new condo in a nice town for $38K. I, personally, would like a small house, all by itself, out in the country, with a little land. A few animals would be nice. This place has about 10 acres with cows. I would like this, but would probably have dogs, a motocross track, and a moto-trials course.

    DSCN4623.JPG
  4. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Sounds idyllic @Champe and I couldn't agree more - though I'd likely go with an enduro type of track over moto...lol. Not to pry (but will anyway), are you looking to make a permanent move down south? I think that sounds simultaneously amazing and daunting/terrifying.

    Hope you're able to find a few more post-worthy pictures as I've thoroughly enjoyed following along. And I look forward to seeing what spring brings as you return.
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  5. Scribe

    Scribe £Bob£

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    No, they torched the vehicles not the passengers. It looks like the cops said the ELN rebels did it in retaliation for some kind of successful police operation.
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  6. gmax

    gmax n00b

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    Hey Dalmatino, The Wee 650 is by far the most popular big bike on Colombian roads. Suzuki has an assembly plant here that assembles them. It is also the official "Police Bike" of the Colombian National Police for hiway enforcement. That will be a great bike for here. I have one back in USA and wish I could keep it here long term. Good luck in your plans. If you need any advice with logistics or route planning prior to arrival, Reach out to Jeff Cremer who lives in Medellin and is always ready to help fellow ADV riders. His USA contact number is (786) 623 4393.
  7. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    I have a few more photos that I consider B grade that you guys might like. This is a pretty girl at the Palomino beach restaurant. Nothing B grade about her.

    DSCN4583.JPG
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  8. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    This is some fruit from the breakfast bar at the Viajero Hostel. Many of you will recognize the red one as papaya. The other is Pitaya (dragon fruit). It is sweet and flavorful. It is my new favorite tropical fruit. Unfortunately it is hard to get good ones here in the states.
    IMG_0011.JPG
  9. Dalmatino

    Dalmatino Been here awhile

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    Thanks Gmax appreciate that!
    I will definitely keep his info..
  10. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    Popular big bikes in Colombia.

    I did not see many big Suzukis in Colombia. Most of the police bikes I saw were smaller Suzys or Hondas.
    If I remember right I saw only one 650 police bike out of about 20. And only one civilian 650.

    They are there though. Here is a link to the ones for sale right now on Mercado Libre :
    https://motos.mercadolibre.com.co/touring/suzuki/v-strom-touring/

    The 650 Suzukis are in two groups. V- stroms (21) and DL650s (19) for a total of 40.

    Big BMWs are way more popular, although still not common. There are 121 BMW R1200GSs on offer on Mercado Libre right now.

    The cheapest shipping I have heard is $1000 one way via sailboat from Panama to Cartagena. Most expensive I have heard is by air from Texas for $2500 one way.

    The price for a 650 Suzuki is between $2600 and $8000 on Mercado Libre.
  11. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    Most popular brands of motorcycles in Colombia

    If you ride a bike in Colombia you might be interested in what is most popular, since service and parts availability is likely related to that. I did not pick one of the top four brands because I have unique taste and don't mind being different. These are the top four, in order, based on the number of offerings on Mercado Libre right now.

    Yamaha 1700
    Bajaj 1000
    Honda 800
    Suzuki 600
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  12. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    In Bogota, I had a roommate that was in the Navy. I thought that was strange since there is no ocean near there. Must have been getting some training there, but we did not speak much since he knew no english at all. He did ask me for an American dollar though (and paid for it). This is his hat.
    DSCN4627.JPG


    On the way from Santa Marta back to Bogota, I stopped at a restaurant across from the little farm I showed you a photo of earlier. When I ordered the meal they asked me lots of questions about what drink I wanted. Bottled or natural ? What type of juice , listing off about 5 or 6 types. With or without sugar ? I went with natural, Mora (like blackberry), and without sugar. That was a mistake. It was very sour. Not spoiled, just sour. Needed sugar. I should have asked them for some but I didn't. My tongue felt burnt for days after. This was my lunch companion.
    DSCN4624.JPG

    In Bogota I went by a couple of other bike shops while walking to the KTM dealer. Here is one that specializes in Harley look-alikes.
    DSCN4626.JPG
    DSCN4625.JPG

    The biker who helped me with finding out the prices for parking at the garage near the hostel rode something similar. It was actually a 250cc Yamaha factory "chopper".
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  13. Mofrid

    Mofrid Been here awhile Supporter

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    Great RR.
    Thank you!
    I plan to get down there one of these winters upcoming.
  14. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    Learning Spanish

    Just a little Spanish goes a long way. You are in their country and you can not expect them to speak English. Many do, but those are the ones that have regular contact with tourists, like hostel receptionists and highly educated professionals. Your experience will be dramatically enhanced if you at least learn some basic phrases.

    My aptitude for languages is poor. So I have had to try many different ways to learn Spanish over the last 10 years. Every method has added something to my ability, but there is one that is better than all the rest. And it's free - sort of. And you can do it at home. That method is Duolingo. It is the most popular method in the world today. They teach all languages, but they do the best with Spanish. You can use their website, or download their app. It is basically free, but they do interrupt frequently with ads. You can get rid of the ads by paying $10 a month or $60 a year.

    The design of the course is like a game. You score points for making progress, and you can measure your progress against others if you want. There is a stepwise progression, that allows you to skip around to different areas of interest, but I like to do it in order. You get put in a league with people at your level of dedication and can compete with them for points. This competition is not required, but I like it because it is motivational.

    There are several types of lessons.
    1. You translate from Spanish to English - sometimes multiple choice and sometimes not
    2. You translate from English to Spanish - sometimes multiple choice and sometimes not
    3. You repeat what is spoken in Spanish

    Before each section are tips. These are important to review before you start. Here they give you grammatical rules and pronunciation that applies to that lesson.

    You will find that Spanish is a lot better constructed than English. There are good rules and few exceptions. No need to memorize everything like in English. Pronunciation is like it is written - nothing tricky. Except maybe the H, which is never pronounced.

    Good luck, amigos
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  15. Davidprej

    Davidprej Davidprej Supporter

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    Thanks for the post. I've only spent a week riding in Mexico, but really wish I had known some Spanish. The people really wanted to engage, but the language barrier prevented.

    You say they know English in the tourist areas, which highlights the fact that, while on a motorcycle, you can get away from those areas and see more of the real country.

    I bought the Spanish videos from The Great Courses (www.thegreatcourses.com) website. I've only been through a few so far, so can't really give a full review, but they seem to be excellent. I think it was around $65 on sale.
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  16. roadcapDen

    roadcapDen Ass, Grass or Gas, no free rides.

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    Bueno, I've been doing Duolingo now for about a week!
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  17. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    Is the Duke dirt worthy ?

    Well , yes, it is. But there is still the question of - to what degree ? The stock tire is a high end Metzeler road tire that will handle dirt, gravel, and rocks just fine. I know that because I tried it. It's limitations are sand and mud. It is not so bueno for that. I ride trials and enduro bikes at home and I am not too crazy about riding them in mud or sand either. But if you must , then here is the answer. Conti TKC 80s can be mounted (with a slight modification to the front fender bracket).

    [​IMG]
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  18. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    What I missed.

    In Bogota missed a few attractions that I will definitely see on the next trip. One is the Graffiti tour, that was mentioned in a post on this thread. I have researched that a little further and found that it is free. Tips are welcome though. You can find out details online at "Bogota Graffiti Tours". The gist of it is that they meet in front of the Museo De Oro (Museum of Gold) every day, including weekends, at 10 AM and 2PM for a two hour walk. The meeting point is marked by a blue umbrella.

    This type of art is a relatively new phenomenon. Apparently the police killed an artist in 2011 and there was a major public reaction. So now it is legal, with some restrictions. And there are artists that come from all over the world to display their work. In fact, the founder of this tour is an Australian artist.

    The tour has branched out a little as well. Now there is a food sampling tour also. Meets at the same place, but only 2 PM weekdays. They have a red umbrella marking the meeting spot. And there is also a cultural tour, which meets at 10 AM weekdays, also the same spot. Again, these are free, but welcome donations.

    Up North I missed Tayrona Park, which is billed as having the best beaches in Colombia as well as being a nature preserve. I was turned off by the ridiculous fees ($71 entry for one person with motorcycle) as well as the 2 hour walk from the parking lot. That one goes on the back burner.

    And I checked further into the Lost City Tour, in the Santa Marta area, which some say is the top tourist attraction in the country. It involves a 50 Km, four day hike in the jungle to a 1000 year old ruin, supposedly older than Macchu Pichu. Turns out you have to hire a licensed guide. There are a few groups doing this - the cheapest I saw was $345. I was not impressed by what I saw in photos, so this will probably be skipped again. Maybe reconsider if they can cut out the jeep ride, pack animals, and meals. May be worth while to see if there are any wildcat licensed guides that will do a rough trip.

    An issue with the Lost City is that the Indians were making some money growing marijuana, then coca. Both of those businesses are now gone and they are now using tourism to make money.
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  19. RidewithAB

    RidewithAB Just Ride! Supporter

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    Missing tourist attractions definitely sucks; when I was in Phuket, the fees for the Zoo visits for tourists were THB 1,500 (US$50) while locals only paid THB 300 (US$10). So many people think that the money grows on trees outside of their country, and everywhere in the USA.

    Nice report, I am enjoying it. Cheers...AB
  20. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    Monserrate

    One of the top attractions in Bogota is the church on Mt. Monserrate. The tourist brochures always show a photo of the cable car and emphasise the view of Bogota from the top. You already know that I avoid tourist traps and went to La Calera instead. Nice bike ride and better views.

    The other way to go is to walk. 1500 steps. No thanks. And a third way, I never heard of until I researched this back home, is the "funicular", a modern railway. Not very exciting.

    But I hate missing anything, even if it is a church. So I did some more research. It is not well known, but there is a road there. If you have a motorcycle it is a no-brainer. And there are two high end restaurants there - Casa San Isidro and Restaurante Santa Clara. 4 stars from Tripadvisor. They probably will not get my money though. You have to circle around the back of the mountain through Choachí. And Choachi has the distinction of having the longest waterfall in Colombia (590 Meters). That I want to see.

    Here is the church that is so famous.
    [​IMG]