ColombiaPosted by Malin Wed, June 15, 2011 04:38:47
nice colonial city to another. After visiting Barichara we drove to Villa de
Leyva. Villa de Leyva was founded in 1572 and today it has become a weekend
destination for people from Bogotá. It was a nice city to relax in for a few
days. From this quiet town we headed to Bogotá. Because we are UN-urban we
seldom go to big cities, but we had to go to Bogotá because Malin’s passport
was falling apart. At the immigration into Panama the officer commented on the
info page that was on its way to fall out. We figured that to tape it in was
not a good idea, so the solution was to get an emergency passport at the
Norwegian Embassy in Bogotá. The Embassy was helpful and after filling out some
papers I had a new orange emergency passport in my hands.
necessities out of the way we could do some sightseeing in Bogota. The Gold Museum
was our first stop, and it was amazing to see all the pre-Colombian gold work
and how good artists they were.
Then we looked at some more modern art at Donación
Botero Museo with art from international artists like Picasso and Dali, and 123
pieces of Botero’s own work. Beside these two museums we strolled around in the
streets and ate some excellent Bogotan food.
travel we have tried to avoid the Pan-Am Highway as much as possible. But when
it comes to roads in Colombia we realized that we had more or less traveled the
whole of Highway 45 from North to South - except a few detours. One was made from
the highway close to Villa Nuevo, and there we were able to cross Rio Magdalena
on an old railway bridge.
Now it was a converted into a vehicle bridge, but our
map still showed that it still was a railroad…… After following the “railroad”
south we got to the Tataco Desert.
It was definitely different from all other
landscapes we have driven through in Colombia, and it was strange to see cactus
desert we took another detour and drove up a muddy road to Tierradentro. In
Tierradentro about 100 tombs that were created from the 6th to the 9th
century AD have been discovered. The tombs were scooped out of the rock and
they are 3-8 meters below the surface and 2 to 10 meters in diameter. They were
painted in geometric patterns in black, red and white, and it is still possible
to see the paintings on the walls in some of the tombs.
It was amazing to walk
the stairs down into these tombs and realize all the work that it must have
taken to make them to make these burial sites.
was San Agustin, another of Colombia’s Archeological Parks. San Agustin is
famous for its hundreds of stone carved sculptures that were left next to the
tombs at the different burial sites in the area.
The area has been populated
since 3300 B.C., but San Agustin culture had its peak between the 6th
and 14th century AD. It is presumed that the culture had vanished
before the Spaniards arrived. All the different sculptures and tombs were
really incredible, but what amazed me the most was the Fuente de Lavapatas, a
monument carved in the stone bed of a stream.
the last kilometers south on Highway 45 to Mocoa, and from there we took
Highway 10 west. It crosses the Andes and it was not much out there except forest,
hills and the road. It was a really impressive road carved into the mountain
side climbing from 600 meters up to 3250 meters. Most of the time it was a one
lane road, but luckily there were many places to meet other vehicles as we met
many trucks on their way over the mountain.
the border to Ecuador we made one last sightseeing stop at the Las Lajas
Sanctuary. The church is built in the canyon of the Guáitara River which is a
pretty impressive location for a church.
we were ready to leave Colombia. We could definitely have spent a lot more time
here. Colombia has been the most positive surprise so far on this trip. One local
girl was shocked to hear that people in USA and Europe still thinks Colombia is
only about drugs and FARC. Our only excuse or explanation to that must be that
all we read and hear about Colombia in the media is negative news. So we would
like to say that we have had a great time in Colombia and have not had any
problems. Along the road we have got more thumbs up and positive greetings than
in all other countries we have traveled through. Together with nice colonial
cities, great beaches, and incredible scenery, Colombia is a great country to
ColombiaPosted by Malin Tue, June 14, 2011 19:00:20
spending too much time in heavy traffic on Highway 45, we had enough of big
trucks and it was time for a detour. From San Gil we took off up to the
colonial town of Barichara. It was a really picturesque town with narrow
streets, white painted and well renovated houses.
showed a road (dotted lines), or actually several, going south west from
Barichara, but our GPS did not show any connecting roads. It was back to the
old way of navigating where you actually have to look for roads going in the
right direction and, in the end when we cannot figure it out, ask the locals
While looking for the right road we ended up in the small
village of Guane that was also a nice, white, old village. With some local info
saying that we had to go a bit back and take the dirt road towards Galan, we
turned around, found the right dirt road, and continued the drive down the
valley. Around a corner we had an amazing waterfall in front of us.
down the road when we looked back, we could see actually two waterfalls.
bottom of the valley we had to cross the big river and we could see on the
amount of water in the river that there recently had been a lot of rain.
through forest and then some farm land. Every now and then we had to do small
river crossings, but none of them was any problem. On one of the old rock fences
along the road there was a peacock looking at us.
turned out to be great, and also a good reminder that we have to get off the
main roads every now and then to really see this amazing country.
ColombiaPosted by Malin Tue, June 07, 2011 20:31:44
heard about toll roads in Colombia that make travelling here a bit more
expensive, but we had forgotten about them until we got on the road. From
Cartagena we drove 220 km north to Taganga, and we had to pay at five toll booths
and it cost us a total of $ 18,6 usd. That is pretty expensive especially since
there are no alternative roads next to the toll roads like it is in Mexico. This
must be the reason why we hardly see any normal cars driving on the roads
outside villages and cities, but there are some buses and an incredible number
From the Caribbean we had 935 km in front of us before we would
arrive in Bogota. We realized that it would take a while, but not that long. A
while before we arrived in Colombia there had been some really heavy rainfalls
and we could see evidence along the road in the form of many landslides. Steep
and windy roads combined with landslides and the number of trucks was not good
for our average speed. One day we managed to drive only 130 km in 7 hours.
highway 45 we took a detour up to Ocaña where we arrived late in the afternoon and
we had to look for a place to camp. On our second round through town we noticed
a pickup with a group of people that followed us. When we stopped they stopped too
and asked us what we were looking for. After explaining that we needed a secure
place to camp for three vehicles they discussed a bit back and forth, and it
turned out that one of the guy’s family had a property on the countryside where
we could camp. With the pickup truck in lead back through town we arrived at
the place and it was nice and peaceful.
They wondered how we had ended up in Ocaña, and we said that one of our
maps showed a national park 20 something kilometers from Ocaña and we wanted to
see it the next day. Our hosts had time because of holiday from studies or
finished studies, and they wanted to take us to the Los Estoraques National
morning the pickup was again leading us around on the mountain roads. Driving
towards the National Park we drove through some really nice landscape with
incredible rock formations, and with farmland in between.
To get to the Los
Estoraques we had to pass through the white village of La Playa.
This is our
group in the park for the first of several group photos. Our friendly, hospital
hosts and guides for the day were: Louisa, Camilo, Pacho, Saul, Jorge, Oscar,
Checho and Alvaro.
the Park we had a few more sightseeing stops and one of them was Santuario del
Agua de la Virgin.
We had a look at the main plaza in Ocaña at night, and we
talked to some more locals along the way. They were all really positive to us
visiting their country and some even thanked us for coming. They also hoped we would
tell positive stories from Colombia to our family and friends, and that we can definitely
do because Colombia is a beautiful county with really nice people. So far on
this trip it is here we have got the most positive greetings and thumbs up as we
drive through towns and countryside. The perfect ending to a good day was the
dinner that Pacho’s mother has cooked for the 14 of us. It was a good tasting
beef in salsa meal accompanied with arepas (Colombian homemade tortillas) and
In Ocaña we
had to fill up with diesel, but we learned the hard way that all the gas
stations in the area were out of gasoline and diesel.
They all had this signs
up saying NO hay A.C.P.M. (diesel) and NO hay gasolina. This is the first time
we have not been able to find diesel on this journey, and because of that we
have got a bit lazy with refueling before it gets too low. Driving around in
Ocaña looking for diesel we got even lower on fuel and we had to buy a 6 gallon
container of diesel on the street and fill it onto the car. Every ninth house
(that was at least the feeling we got) in Ocaña area was selling fuel from
barrels, jerry cans or bottles so there was no problem to buy fuel on the
We were wondering about the reason for this and our best idea was that
locals drive the 200 km to the Venezuela border and buy cheap fuel there that
they then sell. Since they can sell fuel cheaper than the gas stations the gas
stations run out of business. We paid 33000 pesos (about 3 usd per gallon) for
our 6 gallons of diesel on the street. Georg suspected later that the diesel
was mixed with gasoline because he could drive up a hill in third gear where he
the day before had to use the second gear. Anyway the 6 gallons got us back on
the highway and on our second try along the highway we found a gas station that
actually had fuel. With full tanks we continued.
through some areas that had some bad landslides and many places there were road
works. Quite often we had to stop for the road work, and we learned that
whenever there were people walking up to the cars selling cold drinks, snack
and hot coffee we had to wait for a while. Espen used the opportunity to get a
cup of coffee.
One place we got to, the road had been closed for a while
because the bridge had been washed away by the flood water, but we could drive
on a small bypass and watch the army building the new bridge.
from Bucaramanga to San Gil was really scenic. The road took us along the Rio
Chicamocha for a while and then climbing up to 2300 meters with amazing views
over the surrounding valleys.
managing a distance of 130 km this day we found a place to camp in San Gil and
we called it a day.
ColombiaPosted by Malin Wed, June 01, 2011 00:39:26
driving the Patrol into a container in Colón we were again backpackers, and it
was strange after being on the road with a vehicle for more than a year. The
final ride on Central American roads was in Lotti, Franc and Isabelle’s VW.
First time we meet them on this trip was in Anaheim, LA, and since then we have
meet up every now and then along the road. Lotti had six passengers on the way
to the airport this day, Andrea and Georg where on the same flight as us and they
also got a ride.
Thanks Isabelle, Franc, and Lotti for the good times on the
road. Lotti is now being shipped home to Europe from Panama.
It was a
short and nice flight to Cartagena in Colombia. Customs and immigration was no
problem, and we were officially in South America. Since we were without our
home we stayed in a hostel in the old city of Cartagena.
It is a really nice city
center to explore on foot. Cartagena was founded by the Spanish in 1533 and
became the main port on the Caribbean coast. Because of all the goods being
shipped back to Spain from this port it became a target for pirates. The
solution was to transform the port into a fort.
Most of the outer wall of the
fort is still intact and it is great walking on the walls looking out on the
Caribbean Sea and down on the city behind the wall.
The city is
bustling with life and it is interesting to sit down on a bench in the park and
observe all the people. It is incredible to see how many people making a living
off walking the streets and selling things.
You can sit still on a bench and
buy cold drinks, hats, fresh fruit, sweets, cigarettes, get your shoes polished
and sip on a hot cup of Colombian coffee. One day we observed that all statues
in town had “grown” black hair overnight.
We have no clue to why. Interesting…
evenings we had dinners with the other overlanders that were waiting to get
their vehicles, and at the most we were 10 people for dinner. The major dinner
conversation was of course what had to be done to get our vehicles back. Since
the car is registered in Espens name he was the one that had to do all the
work. He must have done something right,
because after just a couple of days delay from the shipping we had the Patrol
back and were ready to drive on in South America. It was good to put the
backpacks in the back of the car and be proper overland travelers again.
Cartagena we drove together with Nordsued.ch and Toyotours.com north along the
coast. About 50 kilometers north of Cartagena we had our first stop at Vulcán
de Lodo El Totume. You could say it is a bit smaller and different form the
other Volcano’s we have climbed on this trip.
After climbing the stairs to the
summit we could splash around in the mud. It is impossible to explain how it
felt to float in lurk warm mud.
There is no bottom that you can stand on, but
still you will not sink down you just float.
After some time in the volcano we
had to get a good rinse in the lake before we could jump back into the car and
continue the drive north. Our final stop for the day was in Taganga.
It felt a bit like a Mediterranean town and we
had a great dinner down at the seafront. And since this would be that last time
we would see the Caribbean Sea on this trip, we made one last camp at the beach
at Casa Grande outside Los Naranjos.