Colombia 360

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by Tricepilot, Oct 2, 2020.

  1. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    Click on the pic, you'll be brought to my kuula page (give it a few seconds to load) where you can spin this photo in 360!

    That's me in my zen spot in Colombia's Cocora Valley, home to the tallest palm trees in the world.

    It's a 360 photo, and I did a 360 tour of Colombia on a rented 1200 GSA out of Bogotá, hence the title.

    This is the story of how the ride came about, why I went solo, and how easy it was to pull off.

    More importantly though, I'll give you the route, the stops, the rental outfit, when to go and I'll comment on Colombia's security situation.
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  2. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    Elephant Moto out of Bogotá rented me this sweet GS in black. The owners name is Micho Escobar. Not that Escobar. Very laid back. It seems to be in a residential area somewhat but it's very easy to find. I took an Über from the hotel to Elephant. The bike was in pristine condition. I had brought my own Mosko Moto bags but only used my tank bag, everything else fit in panniers that Micho provided.

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  3. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    Click on the photo above for a short video I grabbed in Bogotá of my three sample coffee.

    When in Colombia it's all about the coffee. I had heard about the coffee region ahead of this trip and I included it on the agenda. What I wasn't prepared for was learning just how dense the planting is. Hillsides, terraces, even rooftops everywhere are overflowing with coffee plants (trees?). It boggles my mind that each bean is picked, roasted and packed for the long lines at Starbucks every day.

    Fun Fact: the longer coffee is roasted the more caffeine is roasted out. That's why your lighter blends like Pike Place are so popular in the morning - more of a "coffee kick". The smaller demitasse cups you see in Italy and France etc. are roasted longer and are richer in taste but by volume have less caffeine. The old codgers are getting their caffeine yes but they're after the flavor.

    Another 360 photo below - click on the pic then use your mouse and spin it around. A great coffee shop in Bogotá.

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  4. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    I just had to try a Starbucks in Medellín to compare to all the "street" and cafe coffee I was trying. It tasted like....Starbucks. I did get a nice note unexpectedly written on the cup by the barista. Both of my coffee cups from Colombia made it back unscathed in my luggage.
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  5. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    Back home in Texas I ride a 2015 GSA. I took it to Guatemala on a nice ride. I checked around for Colombia rentals and even though this GS was a bit pricy, I decided to book it. Micho runs Elephant Moto Tours and does a LOT of group rides in Colombia. But I was SO glad to have gone solo. There are advantages and disadvantages to both but on this ride it seems it was all advantages.

    As you can see regarding the panniers, if you're taking more than will fit in these boxes you are, well, you are just taking too much!
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  6. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    I found out that RTW Paul would be in Bogotá right around the time of my arrival so we coordinated to stay at the same hotel and go have dinner. Lots of interesting news and stories filled the time together. That bike in the picture was in the process of being sold and Paul was on his way back to the states at the time. A couple of times on his journeys Paul has stayed at Casa Tricepilot. There are a lot of great things about Paul most people already know from his ride reports and his other writings for Adventure Rider but there is one thing the man really needs to work on and it can be considered a big negative.

    Paul does not drink coffee. :muutt
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  7. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    For the casual reader it may be hard to believe but those of you who know me it's easy to believe: I arrived in Colombia with absolutely no route plan or concept of where I would go even the first day. So therefore my plan was to figure it all out on the fly, check other ride reports on ADV, or flip coins.

    RTW Paul sat down with map of Colombia and made a suggestion or three. I mentioned the idea to Micho and he said he'd send me a route email. I believe it's a route he's given to others in the past that works out well. It worked out great for me. And the fact that I was by myself meant that I could change, delay, add, or subtract at my whim.

    I post it all here to encourage others interested in Colombia to copy this, along with the hotel and restaurant suggestions, and to go and give Colombia a try!


    Day 1: Bogotá to Villa de Leyva

    Towns that you will go through:

    Bogotá
    Zipaquira
    Ubate
    Chiquinquira
    Villa de Leyva

    Ride north from Bogotá towards Zipaquira. If you want stop at the Salt Cathedral. Keep on riding north via the towns I mention. Good lunch spot is Colfrance after Ubaté:
    LINK

    Hotels:
    Plaza Mayor
    Casa Terra

    Restaurant:
    Mercado Municipal

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  8. radmann10

    radmann10 Derf Supporter

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    Great trip, I'm trying to get the wifey to travel to Armenia, Columbia with me next year. Keep the great info coming and I will have a better shot at success!
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  9. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    Ha! I hope she goes with you. Coffee Country! And you'll be just down the road from Salento, right near the wax palms, that's where the opening 360 photo in this ride report was taken.
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  10. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    I'm just going to be transparent here. A huge driver making me fascinated with Colombia was the Narcos series on Netflix. It was and remains the only series I have have binge watched to completion in the history of me watching TV.

    The Colombia in these days is nothing like the Colombia in those days. In my entire time down there I saw no crime, had no problems on the road, never got stopped by a cop, and in general felt that the people of Colombia were/are the most warm and welcoming people I've run into.

    I did pass a lot of military check points but only got waived through with a thumbs up. I thought it was odd that every military post liked motorcycles or me but I found out they were giving a signal: "The Road Ahead Is Safe"

    I do think the situation might be somewhat different in the Southeast region of the country so if I were to return and go there I would do more due diligence.

    I will say I had a HOOT of a time in Medellín, in the Department of Antioquia, the former hotbed of Pablo Escobar. Today you can tour all the central scenes in the Netflix series.

    Tourism in Colombia is among the fastest growing in the world.
    #10
  11. NAVIGATOR

    NAVIGATOR Wanderer

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    I like coffe, bring the RR:clap
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  12. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    Heya! I'll be back on Cozumel on the 19th of this month! More underwater sha-nanny-gans this time with all new gear. My old stuff was falling apart.
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  13. barnyard

    barnyard Verbal tactician Super Moderator

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    Awesome.

    My daughter has been to Costa Rica twice. Both times she went to Cafe Britt and sent me bagged beans that had been roasted that day. Some of the best coffee I have ever had.
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  14. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    This is Micho from Elephant Moto. What a great guy. The inside of his place is totally professional and a bit of a surprise, actually, since from the outside it looks like an apartment. Interesting thing about Colombia, Micho had a sticker with the bike license plate number on it that goes on the back of your helmet. I never really pressed into the why of it, perhaps it has to do with curving drive by purse snatching or maybe simply to help the police ID who is on the bike.

    There is an extra charge if you want the typical Nav V computer, which I took but only because of the TPMS display option (which I ended up never checking). The bags are also extra. Yes, it was a little expensive in my opinion, but it's probably the best bike for passing the large trucks in the Andes. The Andes split as they rise into Colombia, and if you look at a relief map of Colombia it looks like fingers spread apart. All the coastal and inland shipping goes by truck and these trucks take the same highways you do. You have to get used to frequent slow up and downhill trucks in some areas and passing them safely takes bike power. Plus coming from a GS in Texas the swap to a GS in Colombia was a no brainer.

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  15. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    Heads up if you want to do a similar trip with Micho. It's not a fast process (but it is efficient) to do all the paperwork and get your gear organized at his place, much less get there from your hotel in the first place. I'd say you're leaving his office around mid day for an arrival in Villa de Leyva in the late afternoon.

    It was a short day to Villa de Leyva in easy traffic. Leaving Bogotá involved a little touch of the nerves because of the "getting used to", at least in the mind. If I tried to tell you it was the same as riding a motorcycle in New York City, well, I've never ridden there so it would be a bad comparision. It was dense at some points but once North of the city it calmed down quite a bit.
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  16. Hedonist222

    Hedonist222 Been here awhile

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    thank you for sharing
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  17. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    To give you an idea, I would rent if I were to do what I did in Colombia and what I have on the docket for Ecuador - fly in, ride around, give back the bike and head home.

    If I were there on a multi country one way trip I'd ship my own bike down.

    I mentioned it above, but Elephant was not the cheapest. There are other operators in Colombia now and in Ecuador it's Court Rand's Freedom Bike Rental all day long as far as I'm concerned. Even if there were other Ecuador vendors I still plan to rent from Court.
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  18. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    Welcome to Villa de Lleva! Northeast of Bogotá, in the Boyacá Department. This is a charming colonial vibe town that features the vast Plaza Mayor that you're looking at above. It is among the largest central plazas in the Americas.

    Click on the photo and it will take you to another 360 photo. Go full screen. Use your mouse or finger and spin it in any direction. If you scroll down in the 360 you'll see me holding the cam on the stick.

    Absolutely fun walking town. It's relative proximity to Bogotá makes it the perfect first day destination.

    Dinner here was fried chicken from a street vendor, even though there were a number of enticing restaurants. It was OK, and I probably should have done a restaurant, but there's plenty of fine dining ahead in Colombia on this trip.





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  19. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    The back streets of Villa de Lleva

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    I stuffed a toy elephant above the windscreen Elephant Moto sticker. It is still there.

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    My fav band back in the day was Emerson, Lake & Palmer. ELP. Maybe that's why I like ELePhanT Moto. With your fat rental contract at least you get a hat. :D

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    Back alley of Villa de Lleva

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    Full disclosure: I went back for two more coffees.
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  20. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    C'mon Mike! Look at your Sig Line! You way outshine me with street vendor cred!
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