Kategorie-Archiv: Vivencias

Erlebnisse und Erfahrungen auf der Fahrt

Pereira – Medellín

Diese Diashow benötigt JavaScript.

It was a sad goodbye during some days from the whole family Llanos. In such a short time, sharing their lives, I had nearly become a member of this great family and they’d become my second home in Colombia. Who knows when we will see us again?

Alexander escorted me to the outer frontier of Pereira and I was left alone on the road with my memories and thoughts. On the distant horizon droning tempests (truenos y rayos) fitting with my mood. I passed the puente helicoidal, the only serious ascend this day. In Chinchiná, I had lunch surrounded by the whole friendly and curious kitchen staff. I seemed to be the first stranger on a bike in their lives. When I asked for the way to a hostel, a man insisted to accompany me to the central hotel.

The next day, after a tasty juice of Chontaduro (will I ever come to an exhaustive description of these fruits here?) was an easy trip along the Río Cauca to La Pintada, a bald transit village along the road. I found an hospedaje for only 4 Euros, suspicious at first, but proper and without una mujer vieja y gorda during the hot but quiet night. After the day on the bicycle, I was rather hungry that evening but run out of cash. What a chance that on the abandoned table nearby someone had forgotten half of its patacón con guiso! I had just eaten it, when my neighbour came back from a phone call. Many excuses!

But I needed the power for the last stage to Medellín: only 75km but with 2000 never ending altitude meters to a pass at 2570m. The landscape was definitely worth the pain: a road on the mountain ridge between St. Barbara and Terminales with a marvellous view to both sides. Unfortunately, the descent was in heavy rain. Rather frozen, I arrived Medellín in the afternoon traffic and went straight to the closest hostel in the modern barrio El Poblado.

In total 240km with 3960 altitude meters.


La Florida

Diese Diashow benötigt JavaScript.

La Florida was my first encounter with the jungle. And it was a deep dive.

We’ve been there two times, the first time for a hiking tour. We arrived in the morning with the Chiva, an adventurous vehicle, a mixture between bus and jeep, open on both sides with passengers dropping on and off continuously and a ticket inspector scrambling around from behind and on the roof – certainly the most dangerous job in the world. Estella had applied for entrance in the national park: what a walk, crouching under green lianas, hopping over little streams and puddles on the ground, slipping over tree trunks and sneaking up for birds colored with all the rainbow spectrum. Suddenly, the scenery changed and a cold wind blew in my face: around the corner a waterfall, of about 80m high, spraying drops and bursting out into a little laguna. Covered under a raincoat (the famous blue one), we enjoyed our lunch.

The second time was a visit of two friends of Alexander and Estella, Diego and Camillo, living in a unique house composed by objects from all over the world, alien-like tree roots in the staircase and as tables, wheels as windows and a ground floor of hundreds of colored broken tiles. I was particularly fascinated by the shower and the toilet outside in the plain air of the vast garden. Since we had some time for ourselves before preparing and enjoying dinner (delicious tortillas) together, we went for a bath in the stream, that is, we jumped from a slippery rock nearby into the whirling water basin. Great fun! What a refreshing and rich experience!

Discoteca de Salsa

A rich night in a disco with Salsa all the time. What a moving, lively music with intense rhythms and charming trumpets! Differently than in Europe, people is dancing exclusively pairwise, but changing often and without any decorum of goodbye. Many also brought campanas producing an unbelievable noise to accompany the loud music with even louder rhythms. We stayed until they switched on the light early in the morning.



Salento is perhaps the most typical and the most untypical village for the department of Quindio. It is known for its traditional wooden houses in the style of the 19th century and attracts many turists. And, unlike any other village, it lives for and from its visitors. After a long time, I heard spoken English.


We enjoyed the view into the beautiful Valle de Cocora (just on the other side of La Florida) and took a walk in the rain before dinner in a pretty and rather peculiar jazz restaurant.


Eje Cafetero

Diese Diashow benötigt JavaScript.

To plunge deeper into the marvellous landscapes of the corazón de Colombia, the coffee region, Alexander had the great idea to suggest a bicycle trip: after a night with the family of Gloria, a sister of Nancy Estella, I left Pereira for three days feeling light with only one piece of luggage.

Shortly after the first peaje, during a break, I observed fascinatedly a crowd of hormigas arrieras carrying large chunks of leaves to their home. They are called after the caballeros driving horses from one place to another and coming back without. I spent the night in the village La Unión known for its large cultures of grapes, directly over the way to a police station (coming with the advantage of a blocked and therefore quiet street).

The next morning I left early attracted by the near mountains. Climbing in the mist initially, I enjoyed later the large plateau around the mountain village Dovio and a great view on the valley of Río Cauca. During the descent, riding to fast in a sharp unexpected curve, I had a little exit into the flora along the way, but nothing serious. In the afternoon, a heavy tropical rain got me wet to the underpants and flooded the streets of the village Bolívar where I passed the night in the center of hospedajes, a lovely old country residence.

With dry socks I started the next day with a detour of one and a half hour searching vainly for a route which was in the map but seemingly not in the landscape. And it was raining again. Knowing the large way ahead, I hurried nevertheless back to Roldanillo, over the river to Zarzal, driving round Armenia, just passing the famous Parque del Café and the two villages of Montenegro and Quimbaya, and finally lost the lucha contre el tiempo, the race against the time: darkness caught me up on the splendid but rather mountainous street to Filandia, just 40 minutes from Pereira. But again, it turned out to my best: luckily, I found a wonderful place to stay and enjoyed the night in a hammock of a little cabaña, listening to the rich sounds of the garden and the nearby woods.

After a way of in total 313km and 4200 altitude meters, I reached Pereira rather exhausted the next morning.

It was a luxuriuos pleasure to end the day on a cozy note together with Nancy Estella in the Termales of Santa Rosa, hot springs in a beautiful landscape with rich pools and refreshing waterfalls.



Belalcázar, the native town of Nancy Estella, is a nice pueblo with old wooden houses typical for rural regions of the zona cafetera and particularly famous for its tall statue of Christo de Rey. Unfortunately, instead of various experiments dropping coins (according to the formula h = 1/2*g*t^2 from an energy ansatz), we were not able to determine exactly its altitude due to the lack of a precise chronometer.
A visit of the family of Noelia gave me the opportunity to understand first hand the art of growing coffee plants in symbiosis with palms (to prevent soil erosion and pest infestation) and the further processing.


During a little walk in the village, I was particularly impressed by the silence and the great view from the cementerio at the top of a little hill, where the tombs were only marked with hand-written wooden crosses. It is the attitude that all life is preliminary, a moment in time, leaving nothing substantial but recuerdos for the descendants.       


Go West III: Mountain Stage

Diese Diashow benötigt JavaScript.

When I left Ibagué rather late at twenty past eight in the morning, the temperature was already at 28,5ºC. The steadily mounting street spiraled up in a marvellous landscape with splendid views into green canyons and on mountain ridges covered with palm tree plantations. Along the way simple huts with grounds of soil and sheltering large families. When passing by, after a moment of amazement, many of the farmers watching the traffic laughed brightly and cheered me with raised thumbs. At times, motor cyclists accompanied me for a while asking for my plans and whishing all the best. Nevertheless, at noon I decided not to continue further in the suffocating heat and after a meal in a restaurant along the street where I was the main attraction for passing bus passengers I found accomodation in the beautifully situated pueblo of Cajamarca.

The next sunrise saw me climbing steadily upwards to the pass of Alto de la Linea at 3288m. The palm trees gave way to green meadows covered more and more by thick clouds. At the peak rain and 11ºC – I enjoyed the hot coffee for breakfast. The fast descent down to Calarcá again was pure pleasure.

After a good rest in this nice town, I completed riding through a lovely milde landscape in the afternoon the 137km to Pereira where in the falling darkness I was warmly welcomed by Nancy Estella, her husband Alex and his mother Norris. We passed the evening eating delicious arepas at the street stand of her sister Lijia. What a delight to see all of them again!

It was the first day of my marvellous and dearly caring stay with this family in Pereira.


Go West II: Tour de Force Fusa-Ibagué

On his motorbike, Mario and his girlfriend escorted me to the end of the village, a short embracement, and I was on the road again. The journey started well with a long descent of 20km down into the tropical valley of the Río Magdalena. But this time I knew that I would have to suffer for every meter downwards when climbing up on the other side of the valley.

ThroughTheValley (1)

ThroughTheValley (2)

And indeed, it became a long day of about seven hours on the bike for 128,5km crossing the canyon and green fields with cattle on initially rather plane terrain surrounded by mountains on the horizon.

ThroughTheValley (5)

During afternoon the temperature display on my board computer reached 34°C and the street steepened. In the humid climate, riding became a torture and I used up all my water reserves. Rather exhausted I stopped at one of the numerous boothes selling fruits along the street and asked for a fresh mango. When nestling with my wallet, the shop girl insisted with emphasis that she won´t take any money from me: cyclists here seem to be a symbol of national pride. I felt very flattered by this friendly encounter: certainly, it was the best mango of my life.

Invigorated again, I climbed the remaining 1300 altitude meters up to Ibagué where I found a little hostel to give my bones their well-deserved rest.

Go West: Traverse from the east to the west cordillera I

With all the luggage, biking is suddenly another experience. My bike changes its caliber from a versatile hopper to a camión which imperturbable follows its well-set way.

Despite the increased attraction the packed bike creates, I stop only once in the heavy traffic crossing the barrios del Sur: to replace a little screw in my shoe at a little garage. While I stand waiting barefooted and just as the questions of the three mechanicians concerning the value of the bike and my exact route become somehow obtrusive, a fast sequence of gun-shots nearby interrupt our talk. Surprisingly enough, the people around do not hide away but after a second of shock run to the source -a cab in the middle of the road- to calm down the conflict. After 30km more, I am glad to see the shabby facades of the suburb giving way to lower barracks and then to some meager green along the road. I am finally out of Bogotá!

Road (1)

Road (2)

Following the Ruta 40 via Sibaté and Granada I have to ascend by 300m to a pass at 2840m for two hours while the rest of the day is pure delight: a long and steady descent of 1000m at 20km into the valley of the Río Magdalena.
With ‚the leaving daylights‘ (and mine as well) I arrive Fasugasuga.

Road (3)

A first try

Today, I went for a first ride with the bike 112km back and forth to Zipaquirá, a rather touristic destination near Bogotá, known for its cathedral in a former salt mine, about 100m under ground. Although I started at 7 o’clock in the morning, there was already a lot of traffic on the streets of the awakening suburbs and I was rather occupied by keeping the track. I certainly would not have survived in this street chaos without my strong brakes.

My cautiously elaborated plan of taking the less frequented side ways was maculature after the first crossroads so I just headed northwards until I got out of town. Surprisingly, there were parts with perfect bicycle lanes along the road, which I really enjoyed as a counterbalance to the autopista norte where the cars kept passing me at a distance of 20cm.


Zipaquirá (1)

After the rather flat way through nice green mountainsides, I arrived Zipaquirá for some breakfast in town and a guided visit of the famous cathedral.

Zipaquirá (2)Zipaquirá (4)

While this church is said to receive 3000 visitors for worship on sundays, it was not overcrowded but nicely illuminated by some coloured light effects.

Zipaquirá (3)

I took the same way back but arrived only in darkness in Bogotá where I had no luck with the streets: sometimes four or five lanes where any reasonable biker keeps on the very right side, but then joins another street with two lanes from the right… I was just grateful for my strong lamps!

Zipaquirá (5)