In between

San Gil was not the adventure capital we were hoping for. I find it to be more like a gritty town full of tourists both gringos and Colombians alike. We nonetheless enjoy our time there. Strolling in the market is becoming a habit now, eager to try out what the fondas have to offer. Suffice to say, we skipped all the touristy stuff and instead fatten a bit for the upcoming ride.

Speaking of ride, our aim is to head over to El Cocuy National Park. One of the several Nevados of Colombia. We have not seen any snow-capped mountains for ages so we’re a bit giddy again just with the thought of it. Also, the backpacks we are lugging around want some taste of the action too. They lay dormant deep in our dry bags for a while now. Luckily, they pack really well.

Our second camera, an Olympus E-M5, decides to have no part of more dirt road excursions in South America. And die sooner than expected. I’ve been eyeing to switch to a Sony A6000 for some time now. It was perfect timing as it is on sale here, a brand new one cost the same as a used one in the U.S. While I wait for the camera to arrive,  I take the opportunity to convert our tires back to tubeless. Ghetto tubeless that is. Thanks in part to the kind owner of Devoradores Bike Store for letting me use their air compressor buy some of their surplus Stans sealant. I did take that chance to align the wheels a bit too. Not that I know how to build and lace the wheels from scratch.

Two days in San Gil became three, then four, and then five. Everyday, I pay the hostel owner for another night’s stay. She must be wondering what our plans were after the fifth day. So finally when the delivery guy came knocking in the hostel with our parcel, we know it is time to go.

San Gil

Trail grub – raspberry – in San Gil’s bustling market
Wall of shame. Small stores shaming customers not paying dating back to ancient 2008
Can’t quite find her rhythm. Persistent problem for Dang after a long time off the bike.
But as always just keeping at it…
A well deserved treat for hungry Dang. 3 bucks for all this.
Top of the hill mark. We crested the first climb from Mogotes, a gentle 16km incline.
Rain rain go away. Onzaga as we wait for the rain to stop
The rain never relented throughout the entire afternoon and so we end up setting camp in an abandoned cattle farm outside of town. The roof is leaking so we decided to use the tent.
The next morning we started climbing once more
Up another climb, cresting a shade under 10,000ft. This time minus the usual altar
And then down much of the way
I love the instant gratification of these Colombian climbs. Every climb means a screaming downhill ride
We arrived in Soata just in time before the sun sets.
Old town Colombia complete with old cars
And a reminder where your milk comes… or your beef
Brakes readjusted, the downhill resumes past Soata.
Enjoying some much needed rest under a shade while climbing up to Boavita
After-school training session. Camilo riding a steel tube rigid mt. bike chase us down to have a chat. He came from school just like his two buddies. While they play, he rides.
And shows us a perfect stealth  camp site. He even brought a bucket of water making sure we have enough for the night.
We pass Guacamayas, a colonial town, on our way to El Cocuy.
Whew! Finally arriving in El Cocuy. Oddly uniformly painted green and white houses all around.
El Cocuy, Colonial town complete with Terracotta roof. Our home for a couple of days while we ask around and plan a backpacking trip in Parque Nacional Naturales El Cocuy

Our route: San Gil – Mogotes – San Joaquin – Onzaga – Soata – Boavita – La Uvita – San Mateo – Guacamayas – Panqueba – El Cocuy

You can check the gpx track here.





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