Our time in Minca and the north coast of Colombia was amazing and now the mountains to the south were now calling us. We had plans to do a weeklong trek through the remote mountain range in Parque National El Cocuy that was a couple long days in the saddle away.
We left Minca at sunrise in the cool morning mountain air and descended into the scorching hot valley. Down below we found stacks of semi trucks choking the road all headed south with us. It was a day full of white knuckle passing and close calls as we ripped down the highway. Six hundred kilometers later, nearing Bucaramanga, we came into a beautiful river valley and started gaining elevation again. We spotted a nice campsite next to the river and immediately jumped into the cool water.
In the morning we scoured the big city of Bucaramanga trying to find the small dirt road that used to be the main route to San Gil. After a ton of help from locals we were making dust again. The dry landscape was shaped by massive canyons accessed by tiny roads winding up and down. Every couple of hours we found ourselves in picturesque villages full of kind and helpful Colombians eager to ask us a million questions.
Lacking a proper map of Colombia, we printed out some google map pages hoping gain some general directions from them. We discovered very quickly that they were way off once out on the dirt roads, but not having an accurate map ended up being a blessing in disguise. It forced us to seek help from locals and get directions in each town allowing us to really interact and discover how amazing the Colombian culture is. Everyone we met was so helpful, taking the time to draw us maps and even escorting us out of town on several occasions. We will never forget the kindness we received.
The hot dry climate made for a very dusty ride and it was my day to eat dust. It stuck to the sunscreen like a magnet leaving my face caked in a thick layer of dirt. By the time we reached San Gil we were eager to be off the bikes and cleaned up so I let Jordan track down a hostel while I tried to stay out of sight, hiding my filth. We made the shower pull double duty once in and washed our clothes in tandem with our bodies turning the restroom into a mud bath, sorry.
San Gil was built up on the hillside, which reminded me of the bay area with all its steep driveways and architecture. San Gil is known as the adventure capital of Colombia, but the herds of tourist had us ready to move on.
We gathered some info on the following day’s route into the town of El Cocuy where we would start our back country trek and called it a night early.