Trails of South America (PtI)... a photo journal

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by JediMaster, Mar 19, 2011.

  1. JediMaster

    JediMaster Adam Lewis

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    I made some inquiries at the NP office and learnt about a dirt road through the NP that links El Cocuy to Guiacan. I also decided to camp at Hacienda 'La Esperanza' on the way round and spend a day walking to La Laguna Grande.

    Right on queue it started raining just as I set off up the track but in between the showers I got a few pics...

    The view into the valley from the El Cocu - Guican trail...

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    Arriving at Hacienda La Esperanza...

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    Inside the courtyard of the 200yr old Hacienda...

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    #41
  2. JediMaster

    JediMaster Adam Lewis

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    I awoke as arranged at 0545 for an 0600 breakfast only to find that thanks to the low cloud I couldn't even see the garden fence. Marco, the owner, gave me a coffee and suggested I return to bed and try again at 0700. I did, only for a repeat performance and a return to bed until 0800.
    At 0800 the same again happened and so being unable to see either up or down the mountain I spent the day on in hacienda. Marco brought me a poncho and a hot waterbottle to fend off the cold and damp. Nice one!

    During the morning dinner arrived...

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    Afterwhich I spent some time chatting with Marco, the fourth generation owner. His great grandfather had erected the original building 200yrs ago during a time when it was a two day ride on horseback through the gorge I'd passed through the previous day. It was another 150yrs before the track from El Cocuy to Guican was built and another 20yrs before electricity arrived. They're hard up here!

    Marco Valderrama

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    By 7pm I'd used my last candle and was tucked up in bed (the storm had knocked out the electricity)
    #42
  3. JediMaster

    JediMaster Adam Lewis

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    When I awoke on the second morning I could see a light dusting of fresh snow on the hills. I was ready to go walking but Marco said it was too dangerous as I wouldn't be able to follow the path. He was a man of the countryside so I listened and loaded my bike. (Good excuse to return in December!)

    I set off down the track in a mixture of cloud and sunshine...

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    ...and bumped into a local lady who was flabbergasted to see me!

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    With the percentage of blue sky steadily increasing I took a detour towards the Cabanas Kanwara...

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    Near the top I got a glimpse of one of the peaks...

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    Before turning round to head back down...

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    #43
  4. JediMaster

    JediMaster Adam Lewis

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    The great ride to Guican continued...

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    Along the way I passed this magnificently sited farmhouse...

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    From there I cruised on down into Guican where I rejoined tarmac. It wasn't to be my last dirt road in Colombia...
    #44
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  5. JediMaster

    JediMaster Adam Lewis

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    North of the large town of Tunja lies the smaller town of Duitama where I picked up a dirt road heading north to Charalá.
    It was much rougher than it looked and as I climbed into the cloud so it became a rather miserable ride. The lack of visibility continued until the track descended again but the rough ride continued.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>

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    In the middle of nowhere I rounded a corner to find a line of flagpoles stretching along the roadside and out of sight around the next bend. Strange wooden houses shaped like espresso pots in varying stages of construction were scattered amongst the trees. To my left, partially hidden behind the trees I saw the corrugated steel roof of a huge building; to my right a huge billboard painted with the image of an old, bearded man. The flag poles continued into the distance and I stopped to take a few photos. As I did, so I was approached by a guy and his girlfriend. After the usual introductory chat he explained that they were a ‘community’ made up of many nationalities that all followed the teachings of ‘old bearded dude ‘ (I didn’t catch his name). They were concerned about their security (probably because many of them were in the country illegally) and asked me to delete the photos I’d taken. I was alone and there were several hundred of them and so I obliged and went on my way. It was a curious encounter and as a result this is the only photo I have of this track, taken shortly before I encountered the ‘community’.<o:p></o:p>
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    From Charalá it was a short ride to the main Bogota – Bucaramanga road and I turned south as far as Barbosa where I picked up my next dirt road. This time heading NW through Velez – Landázuri – Cimitarra – San Juan.
    I almost had blue sky along this stretch but you can see how much rain there had been…

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    In Medellin I met up with Throttlemeister (aka Oklahoma/Crazy John) and we went on a three day loop ride through the surrounding countryside. John had a glancing collision with a truck on a blind bend in the hills above San Luis. Although after his hair raising adventures in Cuba (33 1/3 N C S ) it didn’t even count as a flesh wound, although it did leave him hobbling around for a few days!

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    Not taken on a dirt road but back in Medellin we met up with Crashmaster (No Fumar Español: South from San Diego) who, after sharing with me his knowledge of the Guiana’s, recommended we go for some fukingoodribs.<o:p></o:p>
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    <o:p>They were both good company but Crashmaster will be the first to admit that Throttlemeister is one of the funniest, most entertaining people you could possibly wish to meet.<o:p></o:p>
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    Landslides and flooding put pay to several of my ideas for riding some dirt roads south of Medellin and it wasn’t until Popayan that I got off-road again – on the track to San Augustin. It pissed down all the way so I didn’t get my camera out and it was Mocoa in the far south before I did.<o:p></o:p>
    Mike at CasaBlancaHostel (LINK) had suggested I ask locally about security on the Mocoa – Pasto road so I did. The owner of my guesthouse in San Augustin said “No problema!” and when I asked at the police checkpoint on the road to Mocoa I was told the same…”Más ó ménos”!<o:p></o:p>
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    Once again it started raining as soon as the tarmac ended. The rain had little effect on the road surface being, as it was, hewn out of the rock but it did spoil what would’ve been spectacular views into the valleys. Never before have I ridden a road along which I lost count of the number of waterfalls!<o:p></o:p>

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    The road was all but invisible as it climbed slowly towards the pass but out of the mist appeared a sidecar outfit. Now that’s got to be a gringo I thought and so it was that I met Aussie Dean, and wrapped up in the sidecar, his Colombian(?) girlfriend. Dean arrived in Argentina feeling tired after cycling across Africa so when he met an English couple who were selling the Ural outfit they’d just ridden from Alaska, he bought it.

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    The weather only got worse as I climbed and so my camera stayed packed away until I lost a lot of altitude and the sun came out to play as I passed Laguna La Cocha.

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    Colombia had been unbelievable: surely one of the world’s finest motorcycling destinations whether you like dirt or tarmac. The adventurous will find out for themselves…Fox news viewers will stay at home.<o:p></o:p>
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    I’ll leave you with my parting thoughts of Colombia…

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    VIVA COLOMBIA!!!

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    #45
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  6. crashmaster

    crashmaster ow, my balls!

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    Hey Adam! Great photos mate! Glad to see you are still out there gettin' 'er done! :clap I absolutely love all the off the beaten path places you have been and documented. Serious respect hermano. :bow

    Buen viaje hermano. I cant wait to see the Guianas through your eyes. :freaky
    #46
  7. JediMaster

    JediMaster Adam Lewis

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    Cheers Vinny :thumb

    I think the whole Amazonas - Guianas - Venezuela leg has the potential to be very different to what I've seen/done so far.

    Just gotta find a solution to the French Guiana insurance issue:hmmmmm

    More photos soon...lots of dirt and sunshine in Peru :nod
    #47
  8. Artlocks

    Artlocks Been here awhile

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    No other way to say it. Your photos are outstanding!
    #48
  9. JediMaster

    JediMaster Adam Lewis

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    Thank you sir...most kind!:norton
    #49
  10. JediMaster

    JediMaster Adam Lewis

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    The weather didn't play ball in Ecuador. Out of the 12 days I rode it rained 11! Of course the day it didn't rain was the shortest of them all!

    As a result I didn't ride very much dirt at all. South of Puyo we (I was riding with a German guy, Uwe on a KTM990 that I'd met in Quito) wanted to ride the Macas - Guamote road but it was closed by a landslide. So was the next pass south, Santiago de Mondez - Guachapala and the one after that from Plan de Milagro - Gualaceo.
    Finally we found a pass that wasn't closed by a landslide (Gualaquiza - Sigsig) but of course just as we hit the dirt so the rain started and so I didn't take many photo's.

    Here's the couple I did...

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    It wasn't until my last two days in the country that I really got into the dirt. I chose the remotest of the three Ecuador/Peru borders and rode south through Loja to where the dirt started at Vilcabamba and eventually spent the night in Zumba.

    Another rock slide on the road to Zumba...

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    In Zumba I had the delights of a typical Latin American shower...:eek1

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    #50
  11. JediMaster

    JediMaster Adam Lewis

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    I left Zumba early and headed for the border at La Balsa. It was a decent enough ride through the jungle but once again the clouds were ominous...

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    An Army checkpoint along the way...

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    The border is the river in the distance...

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    The Ecuadorian side was fully operational and efficient when I arrived at 0820. The Peruvian side was a different story. I had to get the immigration officer out of bed!

    The delay meant that guess what? Yep, it was raining when I left and did so all the way to San Ignacio. It stopped for a while then pissed down again on the road to Pedro Ruiz where I spent the night.
    #51
  12. JediMaster

    JediMaster Adam Lewis

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    Peru....mmm....this is gonna take a while! I'm typing this in Arequipa. When I first looked at the map of Peru the potential for off-road routes was immediately apparent and so I've made an effort to record exactly how much dirt I rode. To date I've ridden 2545km of dirt (in Peru) :ricky which means I'm now trolling my way through a ridiculous number of photos.

    Just last week I spent 4.5days/5nights riding a dirt loop from Santa Teresa (as close as you can ride to Machu Picchu) to Chivay (east end of Colca Canyon), bush camping along the way. The whole route was fabulous but one day in particular enters my 'Top 5' days riding from my 5+ years on the road.

    So. I'll post my photos bit at a time...it just gets better and better...:D

    The weather still hadn't shown much sign of improvement as I headed away from Chachapoyas and took the turn-off to Kuelap pre-Inca ruins

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    I camped at the ruins and awoke to a blue sky :clap

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    What a difference the sun makes!

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    Back in the vallley I headed towards Celedin...

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    To be continued...
    #52
  13. troyfromtexas

    troyfromtexas Been here awhile

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    Just wanted to say that I've enjoyed your photo journal. Very inspirational. I recently bought a DR650 to take me on my own adventure through Latin America that I'm calling Tejas a la Tierra. I plan to leave in early September. I hope to see some of the wonderful places that you've documented. Possibly see ya on the road... or should I say dirt.
    #53
  14. achesley

    achesley Old Motorcyclist

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    :clap:clap:clapOutstanding and Awesome pictures. Thanks for sharing. The only way many of us will ever get to see this beautiful world. :clap:clap:clap
    #54
  15. crashmaster

    crashmaster ow, my balls!

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    Yeah, the Peruvian migracion girl at La Balsa likes to take a 6 hour lunch. :lol3 I arrived there at 1100, was checked out of Ecuador in all of about 3 minutes, then waited 6 hour across the river on the Peru side. :huh Also, the aduana guy was so blitzed that I had to tell him how to fill out my bike permit paperwork. :lol3

    So, how about that Chachapoyas - Celendin route? :eek1 That was one of the most scenic rides of my trip.
    #55
  16. Misery Goat

    Misery Goat Positating the negative Super Moderator

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    The Peruvian imigracion agent was at the bar when I got to La Balsa. The aduana guy I was told "went shopping". I didn't see him for almost 2 hours.

    I hope you rode that mountain belt b/w Chavin and Huanuco. That was some epic stuff up there. The most lost I've been on my trip was up there. Ran out of gas on a 15K foot pass. It's mostly indigenous folks up there.

    Great pics, btw.
    #56
  17. JediMaster

    JediMaster Adam Lewis

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    I can't get the 'multi-quote' to work so here's a few individual replies.


    If you're half as happy with your DR as I am you're gonna have a great time! Just stay off the Pan Am as much as you can.
    My DR build-up is here - https://shortwayround.co.uk/suzuki/ and there's more photo's of the build-up here - https://shortwayround.smugmug.com/Other/DR650-Preparation/12135416_qrizD#862885589_8yF76 Maybe useful?
    #57
  18. JediMaster

    JediMaster Adam Lewis

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    Yep, that was a beautiful ride for sure (photo's up next) but I think others have topped it..or maybe they're just fresher in my memory?

    More to come..
    #58
  19. JediMaster

    JediMaster Adam Lewis

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    #59
  20. Flys Lo

    Flys Lo cool hand fluke

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    Neat stuff, would love to see the route details on this track of epicness :thumb
    #60