10 Day - Colombia Backcountry discovery expedition

Off-road trails, unexplored roads, isolated villages, and

never-ending twists and turns.  

HIGHLIGHTS
  • Off-Road Riding - Tons of Off-road paths (light dirt or gravel, nothing technical)

  • Remote Villages - Authentic villages and stay out of the big cities.

  • Mine for Emeralds - Visit Colombia's emerald mining zone

  • Nevado Ruiz Volcano - Explore a stratovolcano

  • Thermal Springs - Stay at a hot springs hotel in Manizales

  • Wax Palms - Visit The Wax Palm Forest

  • Spectacular Views - As always, enjoying all the twists and turns while riding through some of the most amazing scenery in the world.

​​

RIDE DESCRIPTION

Colombia’s rough geography and mountainous terrain is great news for adventure riders!


the mountainous Andes and vast jungles remain largely uninhabited with spots of civilization scattered throughout the country. Nestled deep within the rugged terrain, some of these villages are perched in seemingly impossible-to-reach locations. Although it takes a little work to get there, when you finally arrive, these towns look like they’ve been plucked from a fairytale book; seemingly untouched by the passing of time. Exploring these places is an unforgettable experience,

 

World-Class Off-Road Riding

This tour has it all: Off-road trails. Check. Isolated villages. Check. Lush green mountain vistas with soaring wax palms over 150ft tall. Hot springs flowing from snow-capped volcanoes. Check.  Twist the throttle and lean into turn after turn after turn as you make your way through high mountain passes and fog covered forests. Check. Include the cosmopolitan city of Medellin as the starting point of the trip, and you have a backcountry motorcycle trip from heaven.

Fun Fact: As you know, Colombia is located in the Andes mountain range. What you may not know is that the Andes range actually splits into three in Colombia like a three-pronged fork with valleys between each mountain range. 

 

Combined, these cordilleras are three times the length of the Alps. The Colombian Andes are also higher than the Alps, with the tallest mountain in Colombia topping out at a staggering 5,775 masl. Mont Blanc, standing at 4,810 masl, would only be the 8th tallest mountain if it were in Colombia.

HOW MUCH

Guided Trip

  • $2,600USD per person based on shared occupancy

  • +Add Pillion/Passenger $175USD ($25USD/Day)

  • + Upgrade Single Room: +$300USD

  • Support Vehicle Available 

Self-Guided

  • $1420USD per person based on shared occupancy

  • +Add Pillion/Passenger $175USD ($25USD/Day)

  • + Upgrade Single Room: +$300USD

  • - (Fuel not included but it's not expensive)

  • Downloadable GPS route included 

INCLUDED

 

We aim to provide you with the best value for your money. Our trips and rentals include great bike, all riding gear, clean, budget-friendly hotels, and off-the-beaten-path locations for an authentic experience in Colombia:

  • Bilingual Guide / Photographer

  • Fuel and Road Tolls

  • Unlimited Kilometers

  • Hotels - Clean, budget-friendly hotels

  • Helmet

  • Cell Phone Holder with Wireless and USB Charging

  • SOAT - Colombia's mandatory liability insurance

  • Medical Insurance - (Just in case)

  • High-quality 50 Liter dry bags 

  • Emergency Tool Kit and Spares 

  • High-Quality Rain Jackets

  • GPS Tracking Device

  • Gloves 

  • Jacket 

  • Top box 

  • Luggage Storage

  • Optional Motorcycle Lowering Kit

  • Flexible Refund Policy - Cancellations 31 days or more will be allowed to reschedule or given a full refund. Cancellations 30 days or less prior to rental will be allowed to reschedule their trip at no cost. If rescheduling isn't possible you will be refunded the full price of the trip excluding the price of the hotels.

IS COLOMBIA SAFE?

Now it is. Gone are the days of kidnappings, drug lords, and guerrillas. We routinely encounter Colombian military checkpoints that ensure safe travel throughout the country. We've led hundreds of tours around the country and have never had any problems with security. 

 

Anthony Bourdain summed it up perfectly:

 

"If you want to find bad people in Colombia, you can surely find them, as you could in New York or Los Angeles. But nowhere have my crew and I been treated better or with more kindness and generosity. I'd bring my family on vacation there in a heartbeat. And hope to soon. As I said before: Colombians are proud. Let them show you what they are proud of."

ITINERARY

DAY 1 - Medellin  - Landazuri

Leave Medellín we wind our way through the mountains outside of the city. The road is paved the entire way and features gentle sweeping curves that are easy to handle. This is an easy way to begin the trip and get used to driving in Colombia. Once we drop into the tropical Magdalena valley the terrain becomes flat for the next few hours. Towering in the distance we begin to close in on a totally new mountain range, the rugged Eastern Andes. 

 

Here we begin to enter a tropical cloud forest where the temperature begins to cool off and is a welcome change compared to earlier in the day. Spending the night in the small town of Landázuri we can grab a bite to eat in the town square and prepare for the next day's ride.

DAY 2 - Landazuri to Santa Helena de Opón

Get ready for some rugged backcountry riding to the isolated village of Santa Helena de Opón. We are going to spend the entire day in the backcountry where the inhabitants rarely come into contact with foreigners. We’ll repeatedly climb and descend through jagged mountains and valleys caused by a series of folded tectonic fault lines. Guaranteed that you’ve never seen anything like this. Panoramic views are around every corner, and cold mist rolling through the landscape adds a “Lord of the Rings” dimension to the ride. Although the topography is rough, the roads are in surprisingly good shape consisting of well-maintained hard-packed gravel in most areas.

DAY 3 - Santa Helena de Opón to Las Gachas

Heading to another beautiful and rarely visited place, Quebrada Las Gachas. The ride today is almost exclusively pavement and takes us through a high valley. We make a few stops along the way to rest and get snacks but the main mission today is to arrive at Las Gachas. 

 

Popular with locals but still unknown to foreigners, Las Gachas is a series of natural "jacuzzi-like" pools along a shallow river bed. Your friends won't believe you when you tell them about this place. There are over a hundred pools along the creek where you can slide, swim, and immerse yourself in the pools. Some of the pools are small and only fit one person, while others are larger and can hold more than five people. The area is sometimes called the “rainbow river” since the color of the water appears to be red and green. These colors are due to the rocks and minerals in the river. There is an easy 10 to 15-minute walk to get there, but it's worth the effort, and the views are gorgeous.

Las Gachas, Santander

DAY 4 - Las Gachas to Florian

Florian is home to the Windows of Tisquizoque, a remote and rarely visited three-tiered waterfall that plummets from a mountain cave with fantastic views over the countryside. We spend the day exploring the enormous cave located almost 1000ft above the valley floor. Here we will stand at the edge of the dropoff and take pictures of nearby towns and surrounding mountains. Afterward, we will ride down and swim in the plunge pool at the base of the waterfall. 

 

Sealed off for decades due to its remote location and past guerrilla activity Florián is a town that hasn't yet been developed for tourism. Florián still feels new and authentic and you’ll be glad you visited before it becomes spoiled by mass tourism. Visiting the town square, talking to the locals, and eating home-cooked meals made by the restaurant owners give us a unique insight into small-town life in Colombia. 

We’ll finish our journey on a road that snakes through a narrow canyon. Surrounded by steep rock walls on both sides we follow a winding river for miles before reaching our final destination, the town of Florián. The entire ride takes around five hours although stopping for photographs, coffee and food will turn it into an all-day ride. 

DAY 5 - Florian to Muzo

Today we visit the emerald miners.  In the 1980s drug dealers fought the country's leading emerald mining families for rights to the emeralds.  The mine owners fought back, turning Muzo into the most dangerous place in Colombia, and by the end of the decade, more than 6,000 people had been killed. Inevitably - as is often the case in Colombia - many of them were civilians caught up in the gun battles between rival paramilitary forces. 

 

Now Muzo is a peaceful and beautiful place where we will be able to watch informal emerald miners known as guaqueros scour the river beds along the Itoco river in the Muzo valley in search of the precious stones.  This is a great opportunity for documentary photography as well as a chance to speak with emerald miners about life in the mining camps and surrounding areas. 

DAY 6 - Muzo to La Dorada

Today is an amazing day of off-road riding as we cut through the middle of the Eastern Andes Mountain range.  We ride through the jungle on remote off-road tracks visiting isolated and rarely visited towns. The ride is truly breathtaking and takes us through spectacular cloud forest landscapes with panoramic vistas from the ridges of the mountains. We end the day in the tropical Magdelena river valley.

DAY 7 - La Dorada to Manzanares

Back into the mountains. Today we cross the Magdalena river tvalle and head back into Colombias Central Andes mountain range. 

DAY 8 - Manzanares to San Felix

Today we take a trip over to the hamlet of San Felix and the nearby Samaria Valley. Here, growing on the slopes of lush green mountains, we find the national tree of Colombia, the Quindío Wax Palm. The wax palm is the tallest palm in the world, reaching heights of over four stories. Not only are the palms themselves beautiful, but they are home to green and yellow parrots, which can be seen flying overhead. The views across the valley are picture-perfect, and once you arrive, feel like you have somehow discovered a special place that hardly any other foreigner has set eyes upon.

 

The ride to the valley is as spectacular as the destination itself. The road out of Salamina takes us across a ridge with yet again, spectacular views of the town and the surrounding cloud forests with fog spilling over the treetops. The road is almost completely paved and makes for some easy riding before arriving in the small town of San Felix. San Felix is a pretty quiet place, and we won't see much activity other than the occasional local farmer wandering around the plaza dressed in his poncho and cowboy hat. This area is still relatively undiscovered, and it wouldn't be surprising if we were the only foreigners in town. Heading from San Felix to the wax palm forest, the road becomes unpaved but well maintained with hard-packed gravel. The ride to the palm forest is only 15 minutes and takes us through tropical forest and farmland with cows and horses dotting the lush green hillsides.

 

The wax palms of the Samaria Valley isn't the only sight to see. The surrounding area is filled with isolated off-road tracks that are perfect for riders wanting to explore more of the area. Visiting isolated towns such as Marulanda and Manzanares make great day trips if you wake up early. Continuing the drive south from Manzanares to the Nevado del Ruiz volcano is a great trip. Better yet, it keeps us out of the city traffic in Manizales. The ride is truly breathtaking and takes us through spectacular cloud forest landscapes with rolling fog spilling over the treetops. 

DAY 9 - San Felix to Termales del Ruiz

Today takes us to the famous Nevado Ruiz Volcano. Colombia is part of the Ring of Fire, a 40,000 kilometer (24,900 miles) long string of volcanoes that forms a horseshoe-shaped ring around the rim of the Pacific Ocean stretching into Asia. This Ring of Fire contains 75% of the world's volcanoes and 90% of its earthquakes with Colombia itself being home to 23 volcanoes, of which 19 are considered active. Conveniently located right in the heart of the coffee region is Nevado Ruiz stratovolcano which reaches a staggering height of 5,311m (17,424ft)

Hotel Termales del Ruiz

Whatever you do, don’t even think of coming down from the volcano without spending at least one night at the Hotel Termales del Ruiz, one of the few hotels actually located on the side of an active volcano. Located amid stunning landscapes at 3500masl (11,500ft), this glorious thermal-bath complex is the place to go to for total relaxation. The ride to get here is just as good. Visiting this hotel means navigating an off-road route that takes you from the relatively low altitude of Manizales through the jungle and into the high altitude paramo. Constructed in the 1940s by a German skiing champion, the rooms have the feel of a classic alpine lodge because it actually was an alpine ski lodge, used by the first-ever Colombian ski-team. While not huge, the rooms are certainly comfortable.

 

Outside, there are two large hot thermal pools. Sitting in the steaming hot pools while feeling the cool mountain air and looking out over the valley below feels great after a long ride. The lodge is also great for bird watching. Located on a hillside above it, there's a birding shelter beside a gushing stream where 17 species of hummingbird come to feed including the second largest hummingbird species in the world. The front desk can provide you with brightly colored sugar water feeders to feed the birds from your hand.


Head uphill through a side road and you’ll come to a forest of frailejones, a tundra plant that’s been adapting at this altitude for eons, covering its flowers in white hairs to protect it from the sun and surrounding its stems in dead leaves to protect it from the cold.

DAY 10 - Termales del Ruiz to Medellin

The ride to Medellín takes around two hours on a paved road and is fairly uneventful if there isn't any traffic. Starting about an hour after leaving Guatapé you will notice that the traffic begins to get heavier. Highway congestion from busses and people returning to Medellín can make the highway more challenging. The last leg of the trip dropping into Medellín's valley is a bit steeper so be sure to watch your speed and increase your following distance.