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  1. #1
    jackrussellsonabicycle Airwick's Avatar
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    Touring in Colombia

    Hi,
    Looking for current information and routes on touring in Colombia. Would also be interrested in your thoughts on the safety of Peru and possible routes. Is South America safe? Here's a link for a current trip that looks interesting: www.diegotofuego.com

    Thanks,
    Airwick

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    Is South America safe?
    It's a big continent. Chile felt incredibly safe. I biked a little bit in Ecuador (before the last economic meltdown) and that felt pretty safe, too. Haven't been to Peru or Colombia, however.

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    I cycled from Santiago to Ushuaia and from Buenos Aires to Cusco, Peru. Cycling in Chile is awesome and safe, Argentina is also very beautifull, but the drivers are maniacs. Bolivia is also very good and safe. We did not have any problems in Peru, but we only got as far as Cusco.......

  4. #4
    Punk Rock Lives Roughstuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Airwick
    Hi,
    Looking for current information and routes on touring in Colombia. Would also be interrested in your thoughts on the safety of Peru and possible routes. Is South America safe? Here's a link for a current trip that looks interesting: www.diegotofuego.com

    Thanks,
    Airwick

    Good..the more recent the trip, the better the info would be. I will try and get you the email of a guy in Colombia who I stayed in contact with on roadside security matters. He processed insurance claims from truckers who had been attacked or hijacked, so this guy had the latest buzz. I have a webpage Cycling In Dangerous Places that has some pointers that might help ya..might not though.

    I don't want to repeat the page here but i'd make several suggestions...

    (1) I wouldn't wild camp. You can rent a room for a cheap price in the rural areas and it will be secure.

    (2) Don't drink anything given to you from someone that you have not yourself opened.

    (3) Always be 'due someplace' in the near future. One of the great attraction to kidnappers is folks who won't be reported missing for weeks. Say its Professor so-and-so at Chinchilla University.

    (4) Listen to what truckers and roadies tell you are the most recent dangerous regions. Bulletins from US State Department/ etc are generally too out of date.

    (5) ALways immediately patronize a local business when you stop somewhere. Then, your being harassed is a loss for THEM as well as you, and they will often tell troublemakers to back off.

    (6) Colombians love cyclists...so you have alot of goodwill, especially in the Mountain regions..at least until Critical Mass starts holding up traffic down there. (had to throw that in).

    (7) In Peru and Ecuador the problems you have are more due to endemic poverty than general lawlessness, which is the case in Colombia.

    (8) The vast majority of bad boys/bad guys are bad to the locals and local troublemakers as well. They are probably pimps, hustlers, dealers, and thieves even when you are not around. These are nightime activities, and it means they sleep in the early morning hours. Ergo, try and do alot of your riding in the AM when in areas that are dangerous. Border crossings in the AM, before the guards get tired and hassled, is another good idea.

    (9) Carry strong antibiotic in case you get intestinal parasites or whatever. Gamma Globulin to fight off hepatitis has mixed effects if taken in advance; if you get it there make sure it has been properly stored in a cold environment.


    My trip was only in the southern part of Colombia..entered from Ecuador, went all the way up Pasto/Popayan road, over to Magdalena valley, and doubled back down into Ecuador.

    You'll love it.

    Roughstuff
    Last edited by Roughstuff; 03-02-05 at 07:52 PM.
    Electric car sales are on fire! :)

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    I have been to Chile 4 times, the longest stay was 6 months. I took my bike twice. Chile is a very safe place. The main noth-south highway, route 5 can get busy near Santiago but has wide shoulders. Gary

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    Punk Rock Lives Roughstuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ctbent
    I have been to Chile 4 times, the longest stay was 6 months. I took my bike twice. Chile is a very safe place. The main noth-south highway, route 5 can get busy near Santiago but has wide shoulders. Gary
    What I did in this region is zig zag across the mountains in a couple places so that I could see the Andes in more detail. My biggest crossing was at Agua Negra which got me up over 15,000'. It begins in the Elqui valley, with fertile vineyards and fields, and as you might expect ends up in the barren glaciated peaks near the pass. A straight shot up from sea level. Thats what I call climbing!!!

    roughstuff
    Electric car sales are on fire! :)

  7. #7
    Mike Powell
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    Cycled solo, mexico to Peru in 2001. Took about 5 months. To be honest I always felt safe excet in belize city.

    I took camping gear and camped but always asked permission when possible.

    In the main everyone was incredibly frendly and wanted to know where I had been, and was going and why I was on a bike.

    Biggest danger are the truckers who don't seem to like you riding on tarmac roads they want you off to the side of the sholder. On small back roads largely just graded dirt no problems.

    Dogs where my biggest worry though I was never attacked just barked at a lot, and I got off and put the bike between myself and the dog on a number of occations.

    I think you could get yourself into trouble if you where not warry or flashed money about but I think you would have to be way unlucky or not respectful and trying to fit in.

    I lost my camera and got it given back a couple of days later, had border guards jumping on moterbikes to chase me to give me my change I had left on the side of the boarder post. Not the sort of thing you hear. I jumped over Columbia as I kept meeting people who said cycling there was to dangerous.

    Finally, down on the coast of Peru there are long >100Km distnaces between anything, be prepared for some big cycles in blistering heat.

    Down there North to South is better that the direction the wind usually goes in. Up in the mountains expect some big hills, that means up all day and the next with brakes overheating on the way down, the only time it's happend to me.

    Go and enjoy yourself.

    Bit of spanish goes a long way.

    You don't need to camp but if you do you can stay in some cool places. You will also visit many places where you actually can't camp.
    Mike

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    Punk Rock Lives Roughstuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigmikepowell
    Cycled solo, mexico to Peru in 2001. Took about 5 months. To be honest I always felt safe excet in belize city.

    I took camping gear and camped but always asked permission when possible.

    Hey...great to hear ya had pretty decent overall luck camping. If I head back down to this region again I'll be more venturesome. I loved staying in small hospedaje right on the town square and sitting out at night watching the people while I sipped coffee.

    Oddly enough, I lived in Putney Bridge in 2003 while i was teaching in London. The Thames River had some nice bike paths along it.

    roughstuff
    Electric car sales are on fire! :)

  9. #9
    jackrussellsonabicycle Airwick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roughstuff
    Good..the more recent the trip, the better the info would be. I will try and get you the email of a guy in Colombia who I stayed in contact with on roadside security matters. He processed insurance claims from truckers who had been attacked or hijacked, so this guy had the latest buzz. I have a webpage Cycling In Dangerous Places that has some pointers that might help ya..might not though.

    I don't want to repeat the page here but i'd make several suggestions...

    (1) I wouldn't wild camp. You can rent a room for a cheap price in the rural areas and it will be secure.

    (2) Don't drink anything given to you from someone that you have not yourself opened.

    (3) Always be 'due someplace' in the near future. One of the great attraction to kidnappers is folks who won't be reported missing for weeks. Say its Professor so-and-so at Chinchilla University.

    (4) Listen to what truckers and roadies tell you are the most recent dangerous regions. Bulletins from US State Department/ etc are generally too out of date.

    (5) ALways immediately patronize a local business when you stop somewhere. Then, your being harassed is a loss for THEM as well as you, and they will often tell troublemakers to back off.

    (6) Colombians love cyclists...so you have alot of goodwill, especially in the Mountain regions..at least until Critical Mass starts holding up traffic down there. (had to throw that in).

    (7) In Peru and Ecuador the problems you have are more due to endemic poverty than general lawlessness, which is the case in Colombia.

    (8) The vast majority of bad boys/bad guys are bad to the locals and local troublemakers as well. They are probably pimps, hustlers, dealers, and thieves even when you are not around. These are nightime activities, and it means they sleep in the early morning hours. Ergo, try and do alot of your riding in the AM when in areas that are dangerous. Border crossings in the AM, before the guards get tired and hassled, is another good idea.

    (9) Carry strong antibiotic in case you get intestinal parasites or whatever. Gamma Globulin to fight off hepatitis has mixed effects if taken in advance; if you get it there make sure it has been properly stored in a cold environment.


    My trip was only in the southern part of Colombia..entered from Ecuador, went all the way up Pasto/Popayan road, over to Magdalena valley, and doubled back down into Ecuador.

    You'll love it.

    Roughstuff
    RS,
    I just wanted to say thanks. This was excellent and very helpfull. Colombia is/was the challenge. Hoping to bicycle all of the Pan American.
    Airwick

  10. #10
    jackrussellsonabicycle Airwick's Avatar
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    Mike,
    Great info, thank you. Would love to hear more about your trip and experiences. Familiar with www.bikeitsolo.com (?)

    Airwick

  11. #11
    Mike Powell
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    Must one day write it all down.

    Bike it solo. I always wanted to do the whole panamerican thing. However I cycled bits of it and bused sections of it and decided that it's not my thing. I can well understand why you would want to do quite a lot of it as quickly as you could.

    It's full of trucks, (Sucking tons of diesel was not my idea of a good time), has loads of truck stops, and lots of the towns look like run down america. That said sometime there is no relistic alternative.

    More my style is taking quieter routes and taking time out to do it. Meet 65 and 67 year old dutch couple in costa rica who had started in Alaska one year back for a 1 year end to end. They reckoned they had another 2 years to go which i guess was right considering how far off the Pan American they where.

    Thats what I want to go back and do Alaska to Chilli, roughly north to south, but hey if you end up in Brazil, so what.

    I would stick some photos into this but don't know how to.
    Mike

  12. #12
    Mike Powell
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    ok so you get thumbnails in like that. So

    Above me starting

    You ride along some tarmac and some graded dirt to swim in

    stuff like that

    and see stuff like golden sunsets.

    Ps I didn't ride all the way and jumped in bus's when i felt like it.


    Now how do I embed bigger pictures anyone.
    Mike

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    I´m in colombia at the moment, sadly without a bike (sniff). Colombia is a fantastic place with (mostly) great people. Where are you planning to go and when? I can ask my wife (who´s colombian) about what she thinks. Things have improved a lot (in terms of safety) here since Uribe has introduced the policy of militarization of the countryside. There are certain regions you don´t want to go into and you´ll probably want to stick to major roads in some plcaes (which means trucks). Colombian drivers are crazy, but I think they respect cyclists. The only other thing is that you´d need to speak good spanish to be able to communicate and find out about the local risks. I also wouldn´t ride on a flash looking bike.

    I think it would be fun to do the route between Bogota and Buenaventura... along the way there´s Armenia (in the coffee growing region) which is beautiful and la ligne that climbs to 3500m.

    I´ve never had any trouble with food or water in the 3 months here

    Happy planning
    Matt =)
    to put in perspective, I feel safer in Bogota than I ever did in Rio, that said the coutryside of brazil is cruisy, but dodgey in some places in Colombia

  14. #14
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    In Colombia when your riding through the countryside never stop for that business man stretched on the side of the road, he looks like he got hit by a car, but his buddies are waiting for you to stop, so they can rob you blind.

    My friend from Colombia was telling this story to me a couple of weeks ago, he swears it's mostly safe, just ask locals before you take off down that country road.

    Practice Spanish

  15. #15
    Hazardous biker Ricardo's Avatar
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    Well, I think that almost everything has been said about cycling in Colombia. But since I AM colombian and LIVE in Colombia, I think you should have my cell phone number. If you have any questions, feel free to ask: 315-8881408

    Have fun,

    Ricardo

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    King of the Forest Totoro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Airwick
    Hi,
    Looking for current information and routes on touring in Colombia. Would also be interrested in your thoughts on the safety of Peru and possible routes. Is South America safe? Here's a link for a current trip that looks interesting: www.diegotofuego.com

    Thanks,
    Airwick
    There is a book about cycling in Colombia:

    Rendell, M.: Kings of the Mountains: How Colombia's Cycling Heroes Changed Their Nation's History, Aurum Press Ltd. 2003

    The biggest danger is that drivers don't follow any rules. Plus there is a guerilla war going on in the mountains. I wouldn't do it and I've been there many times.

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