High-altitude Overload: El Cocuy to Belen

Our luck with the weather continues as we further explore the dirt roads of Boyaca. Endless dirt tracks seldom used, Páramos complete with frailejones galore, and enough climbs to satisfy one’s craving for adventure. Of course the vistas are not too bad either. Weather permitting, I now feel this department boasts the best dirt roads Colombia has to offer. But I’ll hold on to that assumption until I ride through Los Nevados and El Trampoline de la Muerte. Looking at a decent map of Boyaca,  I think we’re only scratching the surface. There might be an encore to this in the future to explore every nook and cranny of this place.

Spending a good week camping high up(4400meters) in PNN El Cocuy, we we’re well acclimatized to tackle some more high passes. Or so I thought. Hubris is a dangerous thing as we found out in this part of Colombia. Admittedly, I was almost down to walking on our first pass post-El Cocuy. Dang, my partner in crime, got up to the top unscathed while watching in disbelief as I pedal like an old-timer.

Like this was not enough, we still have two more “lesser” passes to negotiate not counting the climb to the highest town in Colombia, Jerico. Inspire of that, I really enjoy and was surprised how beautiful this part of Colombia is.

One last look at the sleepy town of El Cocuy, the staging place for all things one wants to do in El Cocuy National Park
Endless climb…
With a nice view to power us through
I barely made it to the top. Dang always ready to snap the camera trigger at first sign of me struggling.
The chilly downhill more than made up for the big effort. It was quite a thrill.
We camped in Señora Blanca’s garden close to Chita, a small town at the bottom of the valley. We heard about guerrilla activities around here when we asked around El Cocuy but found none other than friendly welcoming locals.
Dang trying to make a trade – bike to horse.


More downhill
Straight to the bottom. But I’m afraid what goes down…
Must come up…they might as well put a cable car here for local convenience.
After-school bikepacking talk in Jericho.
Then it as our turn to ask.

We plan to push some more after arriving in Jericho. After all it was still early and more miles can be had. But this group wouldn’t let me leave without a round of beer. It took some time before I relent. They were eager to make us remember their town. “We’re not only the highest town in Colombia, we’re also the best hosts!” Yeison, an architect prided. I’m not really big on beer but I don’t refuse an invitation either. Once the flood gate opened, the beer started flowing freely. Obviously, we end up staying for the night.

Hangover remedy


We rode past a dusty mining road until we hit paved and rode all the way to Belen, right at the base of Páramo de Santa Ines. Mining here is mainly coal/carbon often mistaken by locals as Oro Negro.
And I believe in Boyaca too!

Our route: El Cocuy – Chita – Cheva – Jerico – Socota – Socha – Paz del Rio – Belen

You can check the gpx track here.

















One Comment Add yours

  1. Awesome post guys! Love seeing those places from the eyes of another! Big hugs! — Scott


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