Colombian double tap:Belen to Villa de Leyva

Belen is an odd place to stop for a couple of days. It’s a small town where the high street is lined with several fried chicken joints, livestock and farming supplies and an espresso machine equipped cafe. Life here revolves around farms and raising livestock. We got some word on the street about a possible dirt road all the way to Villa de Leyva. So we decided to stop.

We might take advantage of this sunny weather as long as we can, I thought. Facebook posts from friends riding ahead down south always wet sure is a big factor. I’m sure we’ll have fun riding wet high up in the mountain. Or maybe not. I know we will eventually hit long stretch of pavement sooner or later. It’s part of traveling long distance. But we’ll take whatever route option we can find to minimize that.

Sure enough, poking around Google Earth plus local cyclists intel yielded an obvious route through some more Páramos. I really can’t get enough of it. And so with the route plugged in my GPS, we headed back up some more 3500meter passes and into Villa de Leyva.

We met Luis, avid marathon runner, in Belen. I made sure to take a snap of fellow marathoner/rancher. Having another farm where we’re going, I quizzed him for more information in his neck of the wood.
He was going up the Paramo to walk his three dogs, the crazy one ride on the roof.
Luis offered to carry all our luggage all the way to the top but we refused. Instead, he stashed some much healthy lunch for us waiting for us up top.
We went down belly full, a 25km fast downhill, while Radiohead’s The Bends blasting my eardrums.
Oil leaking from Rolloff. Something to keep a close eye on.
At the bottom of the climb, we decided to camp by the river as the rain started pouring. We slept to the pitter patter of the rain hitting our tent fly.
Dang enjoying a short stretch of smooth downhill
Before it started rising back up. Way too much switchbacks I stopped counting.
Getting some rest while…


Dang fix dinner

I’ve been wanting to try fresh milk since we started in Boyaca, intrigued by the warm milk straight from the cow. So the opportunity came I did go for it.

Ahhh the reward of all the huffing and puffing
This is “pavement” as far as my mid-fat is concerned. Smooth dirt.
The reason why I can’t get enough of this high-altitude ecosystem
But then you have more uphill
Frailejon in bloom
Dang topping the second pass, Páramo de la Rusia.


Corregimiento. smaller than a town municipality and a tiny speck in my South America map. That’s what we hunt for.
Where only this can reach and of course the motorbikes

We left Corrigemento de Palermo stocked with a couple of days of food and continue our way to Villa de Leyva. The temperature starts to creep up now after staying high up for a couple of days.

Perfect way to cool down. Only to find the road steeply climb up to the top of this waterfall.
The sight of pavement certainly brings emotion. This one with disappointment. I’m not ready to ride pavement yet.
In Gambita, we found this map of Colombia complete with the crumpled topography of the country.
Arriving in Villa de Leyva, the popular colonial town, both to local and foreign tourists alike.

Our route: Belen – Paramo del San Jose – San Jose de la Montaña – fork to Encino – Canada – Páramo de la Rusia – Palermo – Arcabuco – Villa de Leyva

You can check the GPS track here.








2 Comments Add yours

  1. Awesome photos Dean, but tell us, how did the warm milk taste?


    1. Well it was surprisingly creamier than I thought. I’m lactose intolerant though so it was no surprise that I was bloated and my stomach was rumbling the entire day.


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