We left the wetlands and headed for the foothills of the Andes, Siska, Michiel and Joost turned off onto a different route, so we said our goodbyes but hopefully will meet them again in a few weeks. There was no option to avoid the hills whichever way you went you would soon be going up! However it felt nice to be climbing higher and the temperature drop making camping much more pleasant.
The first hills, everything was so green it was as if everything was covered in a layer of moss. There as been a lot of rainfall in this area aswell.
Although the views were good, the ride was made hard by the constant stream of trucks. Due to landslides a lot of the other roads in the area had been closed so all the traffic was channeled into one road. A policeman told us where there would normally be a hundred trucks there was now three hundred.
After the town of Bucaramanga, the thought of the traffic and with encouragement from Cass we decided to take the back roads to San Gil.
Our first stop was the little town of Giron, a picture perfect town with all whitewashed buildings, and a great bakery for morning snacks.
The beginning was a mixture of paved and gravel roads but the lack of traffic was lovely.
Tobacco leaves drying by the side of the road. We cycled passed orange, pineapple and tobacco farms on our way through the valley.
Soon the fate of our day came into view as the road switchbacks up the other side of the valley.
A well parked car provided a shady rest spot on a 40c day.
Rest stop over, on up the hill!
As we climbed higher the views were really spectacular.
We often see road side graves but this is the most impressive one so far.
The town of Zapatoca, we had planned to stay here, however with our long breaks to stay out of the sun we had to camp 10km before the town but it was a good stop in the morning for breakfast. We were a great fascination for the town and one man even weighed our bikes in his shop to see how much we carried, he then weighed all of us!! It was interesting to find out how much we carry and were all around the 46kg.
We had a long gravel descent and soon came across the idyllic village of La Fuente. we stopped for drinks but soon pushed on as we knew we had more hill climbing in the heat to do.
Another big hill and the next day we arrived in the even more picture perfect town of Barichara.
Beautiful painted houses and cobbled streets.
In the bakery we met Carlos, a local artist and mountain biker, he had heard we were coming from the guys in the bike shop in Bucaramanga and invited us to stay. His house was a beautiful a 12 year project of his. He was not staying as he had another house in a neighbouring town, but gave us the keys and said to make ourselves at home, amazing hospitality.
We have loads of photos of little doors and windows, each one seemed to have its own charm. I liked this plan and simple one!
It was a longer tougher rider this way, but really worth it for the great views, good camping spots and amazing towns and villages.
For more pictures and a really good blog check out Cass’ http://www.whileoutriding.com