Thursday, March 31, 2016

Groysman, Katz, Ivanov and Co. are riding Colombia


Colombia trip is over it has been almost 2 weeks since our return home, but great memories about beautiful country, and great group of people that I rode with, are still fresh.

I really enjoyed the trip, initial reaction from majority of people that heard about our plan sounded like this: “Why Colombia? Isn’t it dangerous?” No, it is not dangerous, there are still area that are not safe to travel, but they were not on our planned route, plus even when traveling here in US or Canada, you need to be smart and make sure to avoid some areas at night. On a couple the occasions we were asked by hotel employees to come back to hotel before sundown, but we ignored it. Everyone came home safe and with no crash injuries.
The preparation for the trip wasn’t difficult, but it still took some time and effort. We were lucky to rent great motorcycles from Motolombia ( and use their Discover Colombia itinerary, so it saved us some time and nerves. We did great, taking into consideration that it was not a small group of people, 8 adult men, each with its own personality, view of life, view on how to spend money, riding styles and political views.

I want to thank everyone from the gang for joining me on this incredible trip, and I am looking forward to many more fun trips in the future.

Now I will stop with the BS and will move to the actual trip.


Finally Colombia trip started and the whole gang has been reunited at our Cali hotel

First drinks with the crew after our arrival at the restaurant right in our hotel. Few words about hotel, the name of the place Western Texas Hotel, location is great almost in center - restaurants, bars and clubs are all here. It is hard to sleep even with earplugs, because music is blasting form every direction, and there is no hot water in the shower, which would be nice to take after very long day on the plane. Long story short, quick jump under refreshing shower, earplugs into my ears and I fall asleep, for just a few hours, since I couldn’t sleep due to the excitements for the upcoming adventure.
Next morning we went to pick up our bikes, while the guys who arrived a day earlier were getting ready to head out of city and meet us somewhere along the way.

We were about to leave Motolombia rental shop, when I got a call from Barak with the news that they got flat tire right outside the city. Motolombia send their mechanic to fix flat, and we decided to wait for the guys at the shop.

Finally we all got together and headed out of Cali towards Salento, our destination of the day. We had to cover only 168 miles, which should of take us no more then 5-6 hours, yeah right. In a few  words it wasn't the best day of the trip, we made a mistake of taking long breaks and didn't take into consideration that travel speeds on local roads are much slower.

We hit some rain on the way, our communications systems didn't work well and we broke the rule of not riding after dark. Finally group arrived to Salento and after few circles around the town we found recommended hotel, which was completely booked. Ivanov went on the ride around the town and found guesthouse. It ended-up to be very fine place with comfortable beds and hot shower. Also we learned in the morning that the place also has incredible views from our balcony.



Next morning we woke up to some incredible views

After very nice breakfast and really good coffee we packed our bikes and headed out towards our next destination, Cocora Valley National Park is a home to the world’s tallest palm trees, which is also Colombian national tree.

Check mark on national park, and we head out on the bunch great twisty roads towards volcano Los Nevados del Ruiz. The plan was to visit volcano next morning and take back roads to Honda.
At one of the gas stations we have met a local guy on a very nice Korean/Chinese cruiser; he asked to tag along with us, since he was riding expensive bike, by Colombian standards, and didn’t feel very safe alone on these roads. We rode together through some insanely twisty roads, and split at some of the touristic stops for us to go towards volcano and for him to continue his journey home. We ended-up in very nice hotel Termales Del Ruiz, at about 4000 meters above sea level.

It was very nice hotel with the hot pool fed by thermal springs, which was very relaxing after the day of riding. They also had good restaurant on premises where we had dinner and drinks.

Earlier I have mentioned that hotel was located at about 4000 meters above sea level, so we woke up to the news that few of us didn't have very good night, and experienced altitude sickness. Dani experienced the worst syndromes; he skipped breakfast and was very weak to go riding with us. We decided to leave him in the hotel and take 15-20 kilometers ride to volcano.
Riding mountain roads above the clouds is experience that hard to express in words, photography or video. It needs to be done in order to understand the feelings that will your mind and body. After about 20 minutes ride we got the entrance to the Volcano/National Park, and learned that we can't visit volcano, due to it being active. Part of the group turned around and went back to hotel to pick up Dani. Few of us stayed behind to take some pictures and enjoy the scenery

Shortly we all got reunited and decided to split, Sanya and myself would ride with Dani on pavement,and the rest of the gang will ride gravel sections of the road to our next destination Honda.
We had one of the best rides imaginable, the road was a collection of endless twisties with hairpin turns. There are few pictures from the ride, but it was incredible, and it became even better once we saw that Dani feels better and can enjoy the road as much as we did.

Sanya is very stylish even on the road trip

Shortly we crossed mountains and started our decent towards Honda, one hello of hot city. We found hotel that was recommended to us by friendly folks from Motolombia, place called Hotel Posade las Trampas, excellent lodging option. We all loved it, and probably was one of the best places where we stayed. It felt great to sucked in a bottle of cold beer and step into the room with AC.

Next morning we woke up and headed out to Tatacoa Desert. It was one fun ride of mixed pavement and gravel roads.

At some point road became so bumpy that RAM mount that holds my phone that used as GPS gave up and I lost my phone twice; lucky for me guys behind picked it up.
We arrived to Yaracara hotel in the small municipality of Villavieja. It is very small town/village with just a few food and lodging options. Hotel was OK, with no AC and traditional refreshing (cold) shower in the morning.

In the morning we had our regular breakfast of eggs, cheese and bread; saddled our bike and headed out into the quick loop of the desert.

After quick desert exploration we turned our bike towards town of San Agustin that has one of the most important archaeological sites in Colombia. It actually has multiple sites around the town that have various stone idols similar to those that found on Ester Island. It also was the town where we had planned the rest day.
Next morning we decided to switch from a motorcycle saddle to a horse saddle.

We also volunteered on some local construction site

Jokes aside it was great day of riding horses and exploring local culture, I wish we had better guide, since the one that we had didn't speak much English and was focused on drinking beer at every stop.

In the morning we got on our bike and rode to the next destination, white city, Popayan. It was very short ride around 140 km, but very nice and filed with beautiful scenery and great ride on unpaved road over the Andean Mountains.

Popayan is very pretty and truly white city, since all the buildings are painted white. We stayed in the old monastery that was converted into 5 star hotel, by local standards. I love refreshing chillness or morning shower.


It was our last leg of the trip; ahead we had a short and uneventful ride to Cali. We are lucky to have Mr. Ivanov aka Finkel with us, so he heard about the town called Suarez that is known for its Afro-Colombian heritage. We decided to take a detour and explore a bit more this incredible country.
In the begging the road was pretty boring, but them we move to unpaved road, and it turn into a lot of fun.

It was colorful town, and it has its own charm, I wish we had more time and some safe place to park bikes, so we could explore this place a bit.

After Suarez we head further North to Cali for bikes' return as well as last night in Colombia.

Bikes returned, checked into hotel, we can have a nice called beer now and get ready to say good buy to this incredible country.