12 DAY / COLOMBIA BACKCOUNTRY DISCOVERY
Mountains, Jungle, Emeralds, Cloud Forests, Waterfalls And A Mix Of Paved And Off-Road Riding
Day 1 - Medellin Airport Pickup
Airport pickup and introduction to Medellín, a vibrant city famous for its culture and history.
Day 2 - Medellin - Cimitarra
Explore Cimitarra, known for its warm climate and agricultural significance.
Day 3 - Cimitarra - Florian
Discover Florian's tranquility and its stunning 1000-foot, three-tiered waterfall and huge cave
Day 4 - Florian - Muzo
Visit Muzo, the emerald capital, surrounded by lush greenery and rich mines.
Day 5 - Muzo
Spend the day in Muzo, exploring emerald mines and purchasing directly from miners.
Day 6 - Muzo - La Dorada
Journey off-road to La Dorada, a key river port town on the Magdalena River.
Day 7 - La Dorada - Norcasia
Head to Norcasia, a town known for its reservoir, landscapes, and outdoor activities.
Day 8 - Norcasia
Enjoy river tubing and the peaceful nature of Norcasia.
Day 9 - Norcasia - Pensilvania
Visit Pensilvania, a town blending colonial architecture with mountain beauty.
Day 10 - Pensilvania - Salamina
Ride through rolling mountains covered with eucalyptus and wax palms.
Day 11 - Salamina - Manizales
Head to Manizales, famous for coffee, culture, and the Nevado del Ruiz volcano.
Day 12 - Manizales
Ride through clouds on Nevado Ruiz, experience the rare Paramo landscape.
Day 13 - Manizales - Medellin
Return to Medellín with scenic views.
FLY AND RIDE!
Our trips and rentals include reliable easy to ride motorcycles, high quality riding gear, beautiful hotels, and off-the-beaten-path locations for an authentic experience Colombian experience.
✓ Adventure Motorcycle
✓ Unlimited Mileage
✓ Accommodations in hotels
✓ All airport and hotel transfers
✓ All meals included
✓ Fuel and road tolls
✓ Protective gear including helmet, jacket, gloves, knee protection
✓ Rain Gear
✓ Cellphone holder
✓ Wireless / USB Charger
✓ Basic emergency medical insurance
✓ High-quality 50 liter dry bags
✓ Locking 50 liter top box
✓ Tire repair kit including electric air pump and tire tubes
✓ Luggage storage at our office
✓ 24 hour customer support for any needs or emergencies during the trip.
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.
ROUTE MAPS & DOWNLAODS
What to Expect
Our routes are made for intermediate riders.
The mild off-road sections are simply unpaved roads where cars can easily drive.
Rides are at a relaxed pace and our guides are very patient with everyone.
We calculate 5 hours of actual driving time per day but with stops for pictures, breaks and lunch, each day is a full 8 hours of being out and about.
There is always plenty of time to explore the towns and have a nice relaxing meal after we arrive.
My wife and I recently returned from a trip to Colombia. This was our first time traveling to South America, and after learning about Colombia Motorcycle Adventures through a podcast (Adventure Rider Radio), I thought that the 7 - Day Perfect Loop Coffee Region Tour sounded like a great way to introduce ourselves to motorcycle travel in Colombia. In every way, Jeff and his staff met or exceeded our expectations. Jeff was gracious, accommodating, easy to work with, and helpful. Our guides, Edic and Daniel, were wonderful. The route was beautiful, often challenging (road and traffic conditions, weather, etc...) but never boring. Our bike, a Honda XRE 300, was in perfect condition. We rode two-up on this little bike, and although it would have been nice to have a bit more power at times, it was perfectly adequate and very easy to ride. All in all, our experience was stellar. If you are considering a trip to Colombia and want to include motorcycles in your adventure - contact Jeff today. You will not be disappointed.
Day 1 / Arrival in Medellin
Courtesy airport pickup: Upon arrival at the José María Córdova International Airport, a driver will be waiting for you at the arrivals area holding a sign with your name and wearing a fluorescent shirt for easy identification. They will then take you directly to the Inntu Hotel in the Laureles neighborhood.
The Inntu Hotel is located in the trendy Laureles neighborhood of Medellin, a vibrant area known for its tree-lined streets, outdoor cafes, and eclectic mix of restaurants and bars. The hotel itself is a contemporary, eco-friendly property that offers guests a comfortable and stylish stay, with amenities such as a rooftop terrace with panoramic views of the city, a fitness center, and a restaurant serving organic cuisine. The neighborhood is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, offering a lively and authentic Medellin experience with plenty of opportunities for exploring, shopping, and dining. Its central location also makes it an ideal base for visitors to explore other areas of the city, with easy access to major attractions.
Day 2 / Medellin to Cimitarra
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 3 / Landazuri 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.
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 3 / Florian to Muzo
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 4 / Visit the Emerald Mines in 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 5 / 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 6 / La Dorada to Norcasia
Entre Montanas y Rios Agencia
Local Taxi Driver:
Arley +57 314 6905067
Back into the mountains. Today we head back into Colombia's Central Andes mountain range in route to an ecolodge located above a beautiful lake.
There's only one way to get to the hotel: by boat. And let me tell you something, it's awesome! They pick you up at the docks and then you get to enjoy 20 minutes of beautiful landscape, the reservoir and the dam.
Once we arrive to the hotel, you will love the great view it has of the Amaní reservoir. Next to the restaurant area there's a beautiful swimming pool with a great view of the landscape, perfect for some pictures.
We suggest booking your stay at Ecohotel Campo Alegre. Here's a handy guide on how to get there, where to park, and how to ride the boat to the hotel:
We would like to underscore the importance of your arrival time, which should be between the hours of 9:30 am and 4:30 pm. Due to regulations set by the Ministry of Transportation, the hotel is unable to transport guests to the hotel after 5:00 pm.
Upon your arrival in Norcasia Caldas, please proceed to the main park situated directly in front of the church.
Once there, we kindly request that you contact the hotel via WhatsApp or by reaching out via the following telephone numbers: 3113451491 or 3115892320.
The hotel team will be ready to assist you in coordinating with a reliable mototaxi / tuktuk which will guide you to a secure parking lot.
After parking your bikes, the taxi will take you to the port where a boat will be waiting to take you to the lodge.
The mototaxi service charges are $12,000 COP and it has a maximum capacity of accommodating three individuals.
24-hour parking for motorcycles is $15,000 COP
Please be aware that due to regulations set by the Ministry of Transportation, we are unable to transport guests to the hotel after 5:00 pm. In such cases, neither a refund of the 50% payment made will be provided, nor can your arrival time be rescheduled. Your understanding is greatly appreciated. This basically means that if you miss the boat you will not receive any sort of refund or credit from the hotel.
Day 7 / Norcasia
Entre Montanas y Rios Agencia
Local Taxi Driver:
Arley +57 314 6905067
Today we spend a relaxing day at the ecolodge. The hotel can set you up with kayaking trips and jungle excursions to swim in the nearby waterfalls, hike through the jungle and body rafting down the river with life jackets. You can also spend the day relaxing at the pool and taking in the amazing view of the area.
Day 8 / Norcasia to Pensilvania
Taking backroads across the mountains to the isolated villages of Pensilvania located in the department of Caldas. We ride off-road through the jungle along a ridge with amazing views of the lake. We then ride through narrow canyons surrounded with coffee plantations before meeting up with a paved road. Just because the road is paved doesn't mean that the views end. The road takes us high along side a deep valley with views of the entire area.
Day 9 / Pensilvania to Salamina
Almost as soon as we leave Pensilvania we have to stop to take photos of the expansive valley right outside of town. The rest of the ride consists of windy roads and spectacular views of the lush green valleys dotted with wax palm trees.
Right before arriving in Salamina, make a stop at the small town of San Felix Wax Palm Forest. 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.
One of the nicer boutique options in Salamina is the Salamina Highs hotel. Formerly a coffee hacienda, the owners have beautifully restored the house and converted it into a charming boutique hotel. The property is complete with spacious rooms, king-sized beds, and a beautiful courtyard. The hotel has a perfect location and is only a 1-minute walk from the main square.
A stay at the Reserva Forestal Protectora de Río Blanco y Quebrada Olivares offers a unique and immersive experience in one of the world's most biodiverse zones. Nestled in the Central Andean cordillera in the department of Caldas, just 3 km from Manizales, this reserve spans 4,932 hectares of cloud forest. With elevations ranging from 2,150 to 3,700 meters above sea level, it boasts an average temperature of 11°C (52°F) and high humidity, creating a lush, verdant environment.
Visitors can expect a serene escape in modest but comfortable accommodations. Options include a more affordable, older lodge praised for its simplicity and value as well as a newer construction with large queen size beds. Whichever choice, guests are treated to fabulous local cuisine, with the cooks adeptly catering to various diets.
Birdwatching is a highlight here, with the reserve being a haven for numerous species, including the elusive Antpitta. Guests can join ranger-led walks up the mountain or enjoy the vibrant hummingbirds in the lodge gardens. Guides, like the commendable Andres, enhance the experience with their deep knowledge of local avifauna, even for those less versed in birding.
The reserve's altitude, around 2,600 to 2,700 meters, makes for cooler temperatures, so warm clothing is advisable. Arranging a visit requires advance contact, typically via phone or WhatsApp with Aguas de Manizales, which manages the reserve. Payment for rooms and guides is usually in cash, with no card facilities.
This sanctuary, while particularly appealing to ornithologists, offers a tranquil retreat for anyone seeking to reconnect with nature amidst the majestic Andean landscape.
Day 11 / Ride Nevado 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 edge of the Pacific Ocean. 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)
Rides around the Nevado del Ruiz are often touted as “The best rides in Colombia.” You’ll ride up through the clouds until arriving in a high altitude tundra known as Paramo. Sitting at 13,000ft you will be surrounded by ancient plants that look a lot like cactus. Called frailejones these plants are actually related to sunflowers and are over 150 years old. Although you are at a high altitude the temperatures aren’t freezing and the cool air feels more like a sunny day in the Swiss Alps than sitting on a stratovolcano on the equator.
Although beautiful, Nevado Ruiz was the cause of one of the most devastating events in Colombian history. On November 13, 1985, after ignoring evacuation warnings from geologists, the Nevado del Ruiz erupted. The intense heat of the eruption melted the volcano's ice caps producing high-speed avalanches of mud, water, and debris (called lahars) that rushed down the side of the mountain destroying the town of Armero and claiming the lives of 23,080 of its residents.
You can still visit the destroyed town of Armero and see abandoned buildings which are actually the upper levels of the town with the lower parts still covered with dirt.
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 12 / Manizales to Medellin
The ride to Medellín takes around five hours on a paved road and is fairly uneventful if there isn't any traffic. Highway congestion from busses and people returning to Medellín can make the highway more challenging. Be sure to watch your speed and increase your following distance.