Motorcycle Power Gaps – Trampoline del Diabolo, Colombia and stunning rides at high altitudes in Ecuador

ECUADOR here we come…

For our final ride in Colombia we chose the famous Devil´s Road ` El Trampolíndel Diablo/ El trampolín de la muerte´. (Taken from “The road is 69.7km. It’s known as Trampolín del Diablo (Devil’s trampoline), Adiósmi vida (Bye bye my life) or Trampolín de la Muerte (Death’s trampoline).” Once more we met Jason and George on the way south and decided to go together. We all enjoyed the ride and on this windy mountain road. We were lucky with the weather and had great views; only on the last kilometers we had some fog and rain. The gravel road was mostly in good condition and only in few parts has been very narrow. Not too deep river-crossings – so we passed them without any problems. Afterwards we reached the little village San Miguel where we spend our last night in Colombia. All in all an very nice ride, but neither an trampoline nor an devil… We had different roads in much worth condition…

 The next morning we head towards the little border cross into Ecuador and within 1,5 hours we had all paperwork for all 4 bikes and us done just before lunch break. Our first night in this new country we spend in a nice place with pool in El Dorado. For the next day we had different plans and we said good bye again to Jason and George.

We continued south, direction Quito. It was a nice ride on the E45 for the first 70 km with not much traffic. Then we had here and there landslides which covered the “street”; muddy parts with rocks and branches to pass but nothing too bad. At one point we had cars lining up and as usual we overtook carefully to go in front; usually it´s a question of construction and just one lane is closed for a while. But in this case it looked completely different.When we reached the end of the line we saw that an massive landslide came down the hill. The next 30 meters of the road was covered with half a meter of mud mixed with big trees and rocks as big as cars. Chatting with the people we were told a little bit further are two or three other landslides and the cleaning will take 2-3 hours probably. In the end it took 4,5 hours and it was clear we won´t make it to Quito today. We found a cheap clean room in El Chaco aside the highway and left early morning to get into Quito. On the way we drove up to 4200 meter and had a breathtaking view on the snow covered Volcán Antisana (5.704m). The only worry was Kerstin´s motorcycle. Again she had power gaps and at one point the engine was even just shutting of… UPPPPSSSSSSS

Nevertheless at noon we reached `Moto Hell´ in Quito and the owner Sada, his wife and the entire crew welcomed us friendly. First we wanted to check Sascha´s bike, valve check and carburetor synchronization. After4 hours and the professional hand of Enrique (Mechanico Magico!) it was done but too late to start with Kerstin´s bike. We left for that day to meet Josh who invited us to stay with him and we spend a great evening with him and his girlfriend Oriana from Venezuela. (Thank you both so much again for having us!And don´t forget to come to Europe soon!!!) The second day at Moto Hell we stripped Kerstin’s bike and Enrique figured out that the membranes of the carburetor had 6 holes. Honda is not having the parts, and not a new speedometer cable which broke a couple of days ago… But Enrique turned out to be our magic hero. He glued the splits and whipped even a new speedometer cable out of his pockets! 6,5 hours of work and the bike was put together. Hurray!!! One more day of laundry and sorting and we happily left Quito to explore more of Ecuador.

George joined us from now on and we did some fabulous roads together. Doing a loop to the Crater Lake, La Laguna del Quilotoa, and to the highest mountain of Ecuador, Volcán Chimborazo (6263m), we drove again and again long parts on the Pan-American Sur highway. And this time we enjoyed and loved it.  Most of the time we drove in very high altitudes of above 3800m and the landscapes were gorgeous. Some times we had rain or even hail and snow but mainly sun and breathtaking clear views.Now we reached the south tip, Vilcabamba and for tomorrow we plan to cross the border to Peru. It will be a little dirt road heading towards the border and we are not sure yet where we can get the insurance/SOAT… but we will find out.

For now we enjoy this peaceful valley near the Podocarpus National Park staying at Hostería Izhcayluma while doing some `office work´… just one little defect is running around our brain. On the long way from Quito to here we had once more a complete power outage at Kerstin’s bike… We cannot explain it as it was running perfectly except of that one outage. But!!! It makes us worry a bit and we try now to send a new membrane to any address in Lima… Cross fingers!!!

Colombia – Coffee, Cacao, Crash and Rum – Dirt roads, Mountains, Rivers and Desert

Colombia offers an incredible diversity of landscapes, nature, flavor, music and welcoming people. Since three weeks we explored this country and we could easily imagine spending the same time again. But! If we want to make it down to Ushuaia without rushing through all the other countries we have to head further south. Otherwise we would hit the winter in Patagonia and at `Fin del Mundo´…

We are currently in Cali, southwest Colombia, at 1,000 meters above sea level. It is time to do some maintenance. Chris, an Australian guy who traveled the Americas with his motorcycle and is now living here kindly ordered new front tires for us. As well we are allowed to use his garage and currently Sascha is working on the bikes: New front tires, new brake pads, oil change and a new headlamp bulb for the Transalp. The bikes were covered in mud after several dirt tracks and needed first a proper wash. A good opportunity to do a general check of all parts and screws as we rode bumpy rocky roads and Sascha crashed once badly and Kerstin was hit by a car.

 In both cases luckily nothing REALLY bad happened. Sascha flipped the bike on a wet cliff while driving a wonderful road.  The Routa 60 is crossing from east Chiquinquirá to west Guatapé and is for about 120km a windy dirt road through a spectacular landscape. The crash happened in a tenth of a second and ripped of the side tank bag, the pannier and bended all lights; but the worst was that Sascha did a real somersault and banged his head on the rocks. Kerstin was in the back and even heard the loud bang. Sascha felt dizzy but after a pause and drinking a lot off water we were able to fix the bike and continue driving. The pannier and the loose side bag we stripped on and the lamps we bended back as good as possible. The over-run of Kerstin was luckily much less spectacular then Sascha’s crash. It just happened yesterday here in Cali while going stop and go. The last 1,5 km took us an hour and people went mad. At the same time they were all interested in looking at us and chatting with us while rolling every 10 minutes two meters… The car behind just pushed her down from the side and nothing happened to Kerstin or the motorcycle; the biggest damage probably got the car. Kerstin shouted a bit at the driver – isn’t the fact that we are all trapped in this dammed traffic enough?!? – and the people around helped to lift the bike and we were all just continuing squeezing.

The traffic on it’s own is crazy but all doable. On the windy mountain roads the big trucks starting to overtake just before the turn or while you are next to them. In the city one lane becomes easily a three to four lane and everybody is just going without ever looking back or in a mirror – IF they got one. The main rule is there are no rules. Somebody once said: ` It is like the Colombians are having two personalities; if they drive any vehicle they go mad, become aggressive and ruthless. But as soon as they get out they are the friendliest accommodating and calm people ever.´ this impression has spark of truth we think… J

As said, Colombia is packed with gorgeous places, stunning mountains and beautiful roads to ride a motorcycle. We went to San Gil and had a stop at the Chicamocha Canyon. One of the best experiences ever was visiting the Cacao Finca San Luis in San Pablo de Borbur. That was actually the reason why we chose to go the Routa 60. We heard it could be a difficult ride especially when there was a lot of rain but we risked it. And actually the road was really great and Sascha´s crash was just unlucky. If you ever have the chance passing by the Finca of Alejandro and Vivienne do not hesitate! It is such a beautiful spot and they are both awesome people. You will learn everything about cacao, from the seed to making your own delicious chocolate and far more about the region the fauna and flora. They do live in a paradise. The views are breathtaking and additional there are emerald mines in walking distance which you can visit. The people in the region are unbelievable welcoming. One car stopped us to welcome us to their country and gave us local coffee as a present. And when we stopped in Pauna for lunch nearly the whole village passed by to talk with us.

Our route brought us to Guatapé. It is located in the outskirts of Medellín, bordering a reservoir created by the Colombian government for a hydro-electric dam, built in the late 1960s. We stayed a little bit outside at the Lake Hotel. This place is owned by Dennis, an American guy, and his Columbian woman Martha. A lovely couple and living at a lovely spot directly at the lake. We had a visit at Santa Rosa del Cabal and Salento in the coffee region of Columbia. 

If you look at the pictures you will recognize that we do meet other travelers in different places again and again. That gives us a nice opportunity to exchange experiences, having a meal or a beer together or even riding sometimes parts together. So it was when we met Jason (Canada) and Geroge (USA) in Salento again and we spontaneously decided to make a loop to the Tatacoa Desert and San Augustin together. The desert is not just a desert, but a tropical dry forest. The area is heavily eroded and crossed by dry canyons that develop transiently in the winter months. These shapes are created on clay surfaces, creating labyrinthine gullies in the landscape that can reach 20 meters deep. San Augustin is located in the upper basin of the Magdalena River in the eastern foothills of the Colombian Massif. Beside the waterfalls and canyons it is famous for the statuses which present features from crocodiles, bats and jaguars. The dates of the status are uncertain and the origin of the carvers remains mystery. From there to Cali the road is partially dirt and unfortunately after the rain not only rocky but as well slippery on the washed clay. But we all made it and a great three days together!

When we leave Cali we will head south towards the border of Ecuador… our next exciting adventure on the way to the `Fin del Mundo! The “Trampoline of DEATH” is waiting for us… let´s see… ;


… and it continues!