I plan to cycle across Columbia, starting from Cartagena, this September.
I land on 9th of Sep in Cartagena and head south - planning to cross a bit of the coast, Medelin, Cali, Trampolin de Diablo. I have 3 weeks so the destination point is not set (I don't want to overdo it), but the initial plan is finishing in Pesto and taking a flight to Bogota (from where I fly back to Poland).
Is here any local Colombian cyclist who would advise on the choice of particular roads (tarmac preferred, gravel is also an option) and give any tips on wild camping, local people's friendliness, and interesting places to see on the route?
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I did this in 1996 at the height of the drug wars. Arrived by boat Panama to Cartegena and headed South on Panamerican Hwy to Equador. Naturally I knew about Colombias reputation and was bit worried. But I did not need to worry. Colombia is cycle crazy country and was shown great respect. Police, military roadblocks and local people would always stop me, but never to hassle me, just to chat and ask about my trip. Police would just want to shake my hand and tell me if some road was safe or not. I never wild camped but always found cheap local Pension for few dollars each night. I always find place before dark. Sometimes I would have beer or food in local diner and when they saw my fully loaded bicycle they would not let me pay. Anyone Colombian who had any money was out on their shiny racing bikes at the weekends cycling up and down those mountains. In the mountains it might be easier to find safe place to wild camp. Always ask locally if in some small place. South from Cartagena was like cycling through sauna but roadside shacks sold ice cold bags of water every km or so. Try the fish soup in Cartegena. I hope your Colombia ride is as safe as mine was in 96. Locumbia, my favourite cycling country ever. Hope you speak Spanish, regards, Jim.
Thanks james for overview ;)
Yes, my friends were in Colombia this year and they spoke highly about Colombian people. I am sure I will not be disappointed. Learning Spanish right now ;)