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What can we recommend? Post 3 / 5

We especially liked the deserted border regions in the north with China. The road conditions are generally not the worst, but you should be aware that this could change quickly. You cannot rely on the weather forecast, so we drove on despite the bad forecast and had bright sunshine; and vice versa…

A heavy rain shower or a thunderstorm can not only turn the roads into a mud battle, but also make them impassable, due to landslides or destroyed bridges. Even the cold fog can quickly take away your complete view, so that it is not only a real ride into the unknown. No, you are rapidly soaked and frozen and it is annoying not to be able to see anything of the breathtaking environment. Because that is what this landscape up there really is: gorgeous. High peaks, rice terraces, waterfalls, canyons, caves, caves and again caves, mountain villages, friendly people from different cultures. It is worth it; the north remains our favorite of what we have seen!

We had the one or other rainy and fogy days, which made us turn to the south earlier. The Ho Chi Minh Road is for sure another highlight. Outside the few villages, we hardly met any people on that road. What should not let you become unfocused, since there are all the cows, water buffalos, chickens, pigs, ducks and you never know whether a cuddle or a truck in the next bend is coming towards us on your side?

Speaking of traffic. Compared to Jakarta, Indonesia or the traffic of Lima, Peru we found the traffic quite humane. You must adapt, think for others and go with the flow. The traffic flow works; you shouldn’t be too impressed by the crowd. The main intercity roads are supply roads and full of trucks and intercity buses that afford to race. You should avoid these roads or drive with great care. It makes little sense to insist on your right, because here the law of the bigger, the stronger applies. You also always have to expect oncoming traffic on your own side and everywhere.

This is not taken too seriously here; according to the motto: ‘Nothing came yesterday, and then there will be certainly nothing today as well’. In a hairpin bend Kerstin could only avoid a truck in the ditch, which caused her a 2-day break, a lot of pain and still problems with her ankle joint. Even though complete motorcycle protection clothing, without the gear it would have been a total disaster!  

Yes, we have been on the road with light luggage. Nevertheless, however, always in complete motorcycle protective clothing (boots, jacket, trousers, gloves and helmet).

One of our principles, fortunately as it turns out. Almost all tourists in Vietnam (or Southeast Asia) wear rarely any protective clothing. Although many of them do not even have driving experience.

From our point of view incomprehensible, especially since most accidents of this kind can be fatal. (And they sadly are from time to time, just two weeks after we came home there was a couple on their bike which didn’t make it home again)

Colombia – Coffee, Cacao, Crash and Rum – Dirt roads, Mountains, Rivers and Desert

Colombia offers an incredible diversity of landscapes, nature, flavor, music and welcoming people. Since three weeks we explored this country and we could easily imagine spending the same time again. But! If we want to make it down to Ushuaia without rushing through all the other countries we have to head further south. Otherwise we would hit the winter in Patagonia and at `Fin del Mundo´…

We are currently in Cali, southwest Colombia, at 1,000 meters above sea level. It is time to do some maintenance. Chris, an Australian guy who traveled the Americas with his motorcycle and is now living here kindly ordered new front tires for us. As well we are allowed to use his garage and currently Sascha is working on the bikes: New front tires, new brake pads, oil change and a new headlamp bulb for the Transalp. The bikes were covered in mud after several dirt tracks and needed first a proper wash. A good opportunity to do a general check of all parts and screws as we rode bumpy rocky roads and Sascha crashed once badly and Kerstin was hit by a car.

 In both cases luckily nothing REALLY bad happened. Sascha flipped the bike on a wet cliff while driving a wonderful road.  The Routa 60 is crossing from east Chiquinquirá to west Guatapé and is for about 120km a windy dirt road through a spectacular landscape. The crash happened in a tenth of a second and ripped of the side tank bag, the pannier and bended all lights; but the worst was that Sascha did a real somersault and banged his head on the rocks. Kerstin was in the back and even heard the loud bang. Sascha felt dizzy but after a pause and drinking a lot off water we were able to fix the bike and continue driving. The pannier and the loose side bag we stripped on and the lamps we bended back as good as possible. The over-run of Kerstin was luckily much less spectacular then Sascha’s crash. It just happened yesterday here in Cali while going stop and go. The last 1,5 km took us an hour and people went mad. At the same time they were all interested in looking at us and chatting with us while rolling every 10 minutes two meters… The car behind just pushed her down from the side and nothing happened to Kerstin or the motorcycle; the biggest damage probably got the car. Kerstin shouted a bit at the driver – isn’t the fact that we are all trapped in this dammed traffic enough?!? – and the people around helped to lift the bike and we were all just continuing squeezing.

The traffic on it’s own is crazy but all doable. On the windy mountain roads the big trucks starting to overtake just before the turn or while you are next to them. In the city one lane becomes easily a three to four lane and everybody is just going without ever looking back or in a mirror – IF they got one. The main rule is there are no rules. Somebody once said: ` It is like the Colombians are having two personalities; if they drive any vehicle they go mad, become aggressive and ruthless. But as soon as they get out they are the friendliest accommodating and calm people ever.´ this impression has spark of truth we think… J

As said, Colombia is packed with gorgeous places, stunning mountains and beautiful roads to ride a motorcycle. We went to San Gil and had a stop at the Chicamocha Canyon. One of the best experiences ever was visiting the Cacao Finca San Luis in San Pablo de Borbur. That was actually the reason why we chose to go the Routa 60. We heard it could be a difficult ride especially when there was a lot of rain but we risked it. And actually the road was really great and Sascha´s crash was just unlucky. If you ever have the chance passing by the Finca of Alejandro and Vivienne do not hesitate! It is such a beautiful spot and they are both awesome people. You will learn everything about cacao, from the seed to making your own delicious chocolate and far more about the region the fauna and flora. They do live in a paradise. The views are breathtaking and additional there are emerald mines in walking distance which you can visit. The people in the region are unbelievable welcoming. One car stopped us to welcome us to their country and gave us local coffee as a present. And when we stopped in Pauna for lunch nearly the whole village passed by to talk with us.

Our route brought us to Guatapé. It is located in the outskirts of Medellín, bordering a reservoir created by the Colombian government for a hydro-electric dam, built in the late 1960s. We stayed a little bit outside at the Lake Hotel. This place is owned by Dennis, an American guy, and his Columbian woman Martha. A lovely couple and living at a lovely spot directly at the lake. We had a visit at Santa Rosa del Cabal and Salento in the coffee region of Columbia. 

If you look at the pictures you will recognize that we do meet other travelers in different places again and again. That gives us a nice opportunity to exchange experiences, having a meal or a beer together or even riding sometimes parts together. So it was when we met Jason (Canada) and Geroge (USA) in Salento again and we spontaneously decided to make a loop to the Tatacoa Desert and San Augustin together. The desert is not just a desert, but a tropical dry forest. The area is heavily eroded and crossed by dry canyons that develop transiently in the winter months. These shapes are created on clay surfaces, creating labyrinthine gullies in the landscape that can reach 20 meters deep. San Augustin is located in the upper basin of the Magdalena River in the eastern foothills of the Colombian Massif. Beside the waterfalls and canyons it is famous for the statuses which present features from crocodiles, bats and jaguars. The dates of the status are uncertain and the origin of the carvers remains mystery. From there to Cali the road is partially dirt and unfortunately after the rain not only rocky but as well slippery on the washed clay. But we all made it and a great three days together!

When we leave Cali we will head south towards the border of Ecuador… our next exciting adventure on the way to the `Fin del Mundo! The “Trampoline of DEATH” is waiting for us… let´s see… ;