Thursday 31 October 2013

Equator at San Antonio

Day 121, Oct 31, 2013, 55km

While exploring Quito today I realized that I had past the Equator yesterday in the rain, so I had to go back 25 km's to San Antonio and of course stand at the this extraordinary point on earth. I learned that there is no shadow at this point on March 21 and September 21 at 12:00 noon, and that's because the Sun is straight above you, and also that eggs will stand on there end.

Did meet-up with the guys Court and Sylvain from Freedom Bike Rental , if you want to fly to Ecuador and rent a bike then these are the guys to go and see. They replaced one of my front lights that was burnt out and were great in giving me some awesome tips on where to go next.

Tomorrow if the weather cooperates will take a ride up into the mountains.

Sylvain from Freedom Bike Rental

Wednesday 30 October 2013


Day 120, Oct 30, 2013, 341km

Today's trip from Pasto to Quito Ecuador started great with sunshine and temp's in the mid thirty's,  with beautiful twisty roads through the mountains and valley.

And then just before the border the rain started poring and it did not stop until I was just outside of Quito, just great I thought it don't matter anymore I'm drenched. The scenery has changed to a lot dryer look (less trees and more sand).

The border crossing did take 2 hours and was more a waiting game from the Aduana people than anything ells.

The Colombian exit is easy, park at the rear of the buildings and get your Passport stamped at the first building when you entered the complex and then head back to the next building and get your Import paper cancelled .

Then off to the Ecuador side, where you can park at the rear of the building. Get Passport stamped at the first building on the left (when looking from front) and then get a copy of the stamp in your passport because you will need this, plus get a copy of your passport, owners title, and drivers license for the Aduana. Aduana is at the last door on the right just before making the curve towards the parking lot.

Currently staying at the Backpackers Hostel for $8.50 and will stay an extra day to discover this area.

This is where farming takes a whole new meaning/challenge on the slopes of the valley.


Tuesday 29 October 2013


Day 119, Oct 29, 2013, 395km

Made it to Pasto from Cali today through some beautiful mountains along the way. It was to bad that the weather was off and on rain the whole time.


Tomorrow heading to Ecuador.


Monday 28 October 2013

Cristo Rey, Cali

Day 118, Oct 28, 2013, 51km

Had a productive day in Cali, did meet Mike at Motolombia and was able to get a new/used Alaska leather sheep skin from him for my saddle. My old one finally died on the road after getting soaked to many times I guess, it started to come apart, and only after some 40 years of use you would think it could have lasted longer.

Then to Asturias where I asked for differential oil, thinking I will change this myself, they offered to change this for me on the spot for 25 pesos, how could I resist.

Then had my right highway peg fixed for 40 pesos because I can not find them anywhere.

Did see some of the sites including this nice sculpture.

Also road up to Cristo Rey and then followed some nice mountain roads.


Sunday 27 October 2013

Hostel Casa Blanca, Cali

Day 117, Oct 27, 2013, 184km

Very nice ride over some mountain ranges going to Cali today, beautiful road and scenery. If it wasn't for all the trucks that you constantly have to get around it would have been perfect.

Lower picture shows new super Hwy being built through the mountains, using very large viaducts and tunnels to smooth this out, a real undertaking and I'm amazed at how well the Colombian roads are maintained. Also check out the Pine trees on the hill, there growing towards each other on the upper slopes.

Checked in at the Casa Blanca Hostel, that is well known by most ADV riders for only 17 pesos or $10 US you can’t go wrong.

Will stay an extra day and check out Cali before heading towards Pasto.


Saturday 26 October 2013


Day 116, Oct 26, 2013, 250km

Decided to head towards Cali today and in the process I got lost trying to find the road out of Bogota. My GPS has again no detailed map of this area because for some reason when I downloaded the free maps I guess I did not get it.

Found my way completely off on the wrong side of town as to where I was suppose to go.

After a little while of riding around I did see some bikers chatting along the roadside and thought lets ask them.

Luckily they where a friendly bunch and after all the usual questions they said they would take me to the highway where I had to be on.

They lead me all the way across town where I said goodbye to them with many thanks. Again this go's to show how friendly people are and especially bikers can be, viva Colombia.

Made it to Cajamarca where I'm staying at Hotel Nevado for 30 pesos.


The road out of Bogota.

Friday 25 October 2013

Bogota 2

Day 115, Oct 25, 2013, 4km

After changing to Hotel Madeleine I called Marcos  to see what he was doing, and of course he was having lunch with his girlfriend and was doing some bike repairs later that afternoon.

He would see if he could come down later. I guess things did take longer because I did not hear back from him and I hope to see him down the road somewhere.

Did take in a rest day to catch up on my accounting situation and at day 100 I was still averaging $60 per day, so not bad and will see if I can bring it down in the next 50 days.

 One more shot from 2 days ago.

Thursday 24 October 2013


Day 114, Oct 24, 2013, 237km

Made it to Bogota and staying at the Angry Croc Hostel for 23 pesos and have the bike in secure parking for 7 pesos. The ride was very uneventful, just beautiful scenery and some 10.000 ft passes. This made  for some relatively cool riding all the way to Bogota that lies at 8.000ft.

Will get together with Marcos and his girlfriend later and see what he's up to.

Talked with Marcos and I will change to another hotel that is closer and stay another day in Bogota before heading to Cali.

Some more shots from yesterday.


Wednesday 23 October 2013

San Jose de Pare

Day 113, Oct 23, 2013, 239km

Got up with a splitting headache this morning. The room I had was at the front and right above the street.  All night long the trucks would come and go plus stand there running with the fumes coming right into the room.

This place is a Hotel/Gas Station/Diner all in one and is the only place for miles around.

After 2 aspiring and breakfast things started to look up, man is it beautiful out here, very cold but absolutely spectacular.

Most of the people wear clothing like you would see in the Andes (hats and woollen blankets). The landscape reminds me of that when going up north, a bit barren but yet very peaceful and pretty in it's on way. The roads are great and coming down the Mountain was a feast for sore eyes, wow what a view.

Made it to another small town and Hotel just before Barbose on Hwy 45a, this is about 245km's before Bogota, that I hope to reach tomorrow.


Tuesday 22 October 2013


Day 112, Oct 22, 2013, 121km

Venezuela has been a real disappointment, the pothole roads, the garbage scenery, the cost of food and the heat. San Cristobal has outrageous hotel prices for some reason, and it did take almost an hour and a half to find something for 420Bs with no extra charge for using a credit card. That's still $70 for something less then half decent. The only thing Venezuela has going for it is the cost of gas, and that does not make up for the rest.

The Border crossing at Cucuta did take 3.5hrs but mostly due to the Aduana guy being on a 2hr lunch break. Getting out of Venezuela was easy, on the left side under the big archway is Migracion it is at the first counter. There you will need to fill in a piece of paper and buy a exit stamp for 110Bs from an officer that sells them and he is usually hanging around in that area.

Then ride your bike through the archway, and go all the way till you get to the roundabout, go left on it so that you can get to the back entrance of this same building, there you will find Aduana hand in your temp permit and get your passport stamp cancelled.

Then cross the bridge and your in Colombia, go to first building on the right where you will find Migration and then go to Aduana that is next to it, it is the building behind the truck scales.

Did find out later that the only way that things would be cheaper in Venezuela would be to change US dollars on the black market where you can get something like 50Bs to $1, and in that case it would make it super cheap to stay there, but hey that's maybe good for next time.

San Cristobal.
Made my way into the mountains on Hwy 55/66. On my way up it started raining and the temps went to below 10c, my altimeter was showing just under 11500ft and man was I happy that there was a Hotel, it was somewhere between Pamplona and Bucaramanga, (Berlin).
The high barren landscape.

Monday 21 October 2013

San Cristobal

Day 111, Oct 21, 2013, 304km

I was out like a light bulb and slept like a log if that is possible. When I woke it was almost 9 and that never happens to me. I now also realize that I have no more cash, so it will have to be some left over cola with 1 granola bar for breakfast, a travelers culinary delight (or so I keep on telling myself).

There is a toilet in the closet with no seat and a pipe with a valve on it sticking out the wall with no shower head and no sink. Trying to stay positive  I’m thinking this is great you can shower and take a dump all at the same time, just my kind of place super efficient.

It's already 10 as I head out but will need some cash soon because my fill up from yesterday is already flashing empty. After an hour I'm getting nervous and that's when I see a sign with airport 1km written on it, thinking there has to be a ATM or some kind of money exchange going on, so with relieve I head to the airport but only to find this small building with one ATM that won't give me any money and the other ATM showing on the screen “choose your boot device”.

Are you kidding me this is it, I ask around and everyone is saying the same no money exchange, I'm now becoming desperate so I head to the restaurant and ask the guy at the cash if he would be willing to change some US cash to Bolivars if I have something to eat, thank god he agrees, so now I get some food and cash all at the same time (theme of the day).

Venezuela is great when it comes to having to fill your gas tank, yesterday's 18ltr. did cost a whopping 1.25Bs or about 20cents US and today it did cost nothing because when I was at the pump the attendant points up at the ceiling that have these scanning panels hanging on it and says to me that I need a something or other to make the pump work. That's when a military truck pulls up behind me and the guy in the truck signals that I put my bike behind his truck so that it can be filled. Okay I understand and thinking that they will restart the pump but no the attendant after filling the truck comes to me and fills it up without stopping, I ask how much and the guys waves back nada, now isn’t that great.

Made it to San Cristobal and will head back to Colombia.

Donkeys on the road with goods to some remote village.


Sunday 20 October 2013


Day 110, Oct 20, 2013, 291km

The further you go from the border the less garbage you see, and the other thing you now notice is the huge line-up's of cars at the gas stations, I guess filling those huge tanks takes a lot of time.

Finally into the mountains towards Valera where I started looking for lodging, most places wanted 400Bs if you paid cash or 600Bs to use credit card, what a rip off I thought. I had tried several ATM's but no money, so I figure there will be more small towns down the road with better prices and hopefully no extra charges.

After a while I find myself now riding into the night, until it is pitch black the small towns have no lodging so I keep moving on further into the mountains coming through passes with no real roads left from the washouts. 
After a couple of hours of this my body is starting to hurt from the strain and I need to stop often to gather more strength, navigating through the gravel inclines is starting to take it's toll on me and I can't help but think how stupid all this is for a few lousy bucks. By now it's 11:30 with no end in site, I have been riding since 8 this morning and I know I need to stop or I will crash on these roads so I start looking for a possible camp site, but with a rock wall on one side and a  steep drop on the other, there is not much choice but to move on. I have also been riding blind because my GPS has no detail maps of this area and all I know was that I was heading South West most of the time towards Saint Cristobal so I decide to take the next road that is heading North East that should be towards Hwy 1. After another hour, I finally come to a town with a hotel and he is asking 150BS but luckily he was okay with the 145Bs because that's all the cash I had. This place has no Internet no nothing but a place to sleep and I will happily take it.

More to come.

Saturday 19 October 2013

Venezuela Border, Maracaibo

Day 109, Oct 19, 2013, 435km

Made it to Maracaibo,Venezuela and staying at Hotel Caribe for 290Bs, it was late and I had not eaten since breakfast so the first one that did show up was good enough for me.

The border crossing near Maicao, Colombia into Venezuela is very simple and did take 1.5hrs to complete. Both Colombian Aduana and Micracion are at the same place but in two building across from each other, there is space to park at Aduana on the left and then walk across to the other side. Then drive to the front of this huge line up of Venezuela plated Chevy Impala's and every other old (60s 70s) piece of gas guzzling US metal. Most of them are being held together with some make shift welding and parts from anything and everything attached (Mad Max style), sorry no pictures of the cars at the border decided not to because these guys are smuggling gas and goods to Columbia and back. I don't think they would like it if I took there picture. In front of this row of cars you will find the Venezuela Micracion for an easy hand over your passport and get
a stamp. Next drive about 2km down the road for Aduana and have a copy of your passport, vehicle registration and drivers license with you, also show him your Colombian SOAT and he won't ask for you to get Insurance while in Venezuela, he will ask how long you plan to stay and I said 1 week and he gave me 30 days on the papers, okay that was good.

One of the first thing you notice in Venezuela other then the bad ass cars is the amount of plastic bags along the streets. Most bags are shredded by the wind and stuck in everything, trees, shrubs, fences, it looks post apocalyptic and strange.
Some pictures of cars that were at the gas station.



Friday 18 October 2013

Santa Marta

Day 108, Oct 18, 2013, 230km

Said goodbye to my good friend Marcos this morning because he is heading towards Bogota to meet his girlfriend. Maybe I will see him again if I head back to Bogota or later on down the road somewhere.
Today I made it to Santa Marta and then will head further to Venezuela tomorrow.
There is a really nice market area here and the fruit smoothies are awesome.

One of the signs in Cartagena

Thursday 17 October 2013


Day 107, Oct 17, 2013

Cartagena is one great place to visit and has lots of things to see and do, so we head out to the very old fort San Felipe de Barajas.

 And then to Cartagena's old port entrance.

And back to scroll through the old town's small cobblestone streets and visit it's many beautiful town's squares with shops everywhere. Marcos and myself enjoy  a great cup of coffee while we sit there in the towns square.

By late afternoon I finally have some time and space to be able to write some more and sort through the pictures, and then Murphy's law kills the Internet.


More later.


Wednesday 16 October 2013

Columbia Debarkation

Day 106, Oct 16, 2013

I did get-up around 5:30am and start untying the bike for the next part of this adventure. Both our bikes need to be lowered into a small dingy one by one and then brought to shore where we will have to lift them over the railing or so we are told.
When we finally did get the bikes to the shore the Captain decided to put the dingy up against some rocks instead and we are told to push the bike over the front edge of the boat onto the rocks. With all four of us some pushing and pulling we manage but only by gods grace does this work without any incident. This whole process is such a make shift operation and I can't believe that we pulled it off and then to think that this has been going on for years, just unbelievable.
Once on land and after saying all our goodbyes we head off to Aduana and wait for the boats agent to show because he has all our paperwork including passport. We waiting an hour before he shows up and has already handled Immigration so now it's only the Import of the bike process, luckily this only takes another 45min, and at least something that was thought out. For his services we pay him $35and then we headed into town to find a Hostel or something.
After some searching we find good lodging at the Iguana's House, where it's only $15 for a private room. We then head out to the Insurance company to get our SOAT for Columbia, and it's for 1 month at a cost of $22 US. Also find out that if you hit someone (person) your okay but if you hit anything else your not covered, so we figure if you do hit a car just walk up to the rider and then punch him in the face your safe, just kidding.
Absolutely stoked to be back on land and eager to head out once again.

Will respond back later with more to come, the Internet is not always working.
Caribbean Sea


Tuesday 15 October 2013

San Blas Islands

Day 102 to 105 Sailing, Oct 12-15, 2013

The guy I did meet when I was going to Panama City is from Spain and he is on an Around The World trip his name is Marcos Verges Tortras and has a blog:

Marcos is an absolute great guy and has been to a lot of places and has a lot of very interesting stories, please take a look at his site if you can.


Marcos on the Lancha.


We stayed last night on the  San Blas Islands had breakfast in the shack. Later on we were taking back to the boat where we did meet the other 16 passengers. Once on board Captain Michel gives his welcome speech and instruction on proper toilet use because this will be of major importance if we wish to arrive without issues.

Then we sailed for about 2hrs to this little group of islands where we could snorkel and swim to the islands and this is also where we will stay for the night, by late afternoon the first Halloween party started amongst the young crowd and that was some party. Us older generation guys were more laid back but we were the one to finish the party.


Me on the Lancha with a big relieve and not believing we actually made it with the bikes.


Day 103 Sailing, Oct 13, 2013
Did some more swimming and got a good sun burn, the sun out here is brutal. We sailed for 1hr to the next group of Islands where the Immigration officials did come on board and we are cleared to leave the country, later that afternoon we are brought by speed boat to the biggest Island for a BBQ meal and of course more party time.
The young crowd in there Halloween costumes.
On board the boat I share a bunk bed cabin with Marcos and it is very warm under the deck because none of the windows are allowed to open. Luckily there is a fan above your head to provide some cooling or it would have been imposable to stay in there.
Day 104 Sailing, Oct 14, 2013
Sailed to the final set of Islands before the big crossing and Marcos giving his thumps up.
Captain Michel gives his speech about how rough the sea can get and safety instruction. The crossing for the Independence usually takes 30hrs but could be in heavy weather an extra day. So time to batten down the hatches and prepare for some excitement, this of course is enough reason for the young crowd to really start a good party inside and that was according to the Captain one for the books. Luckily the sea remained very calm and we had no head winds at all.

Day 105 Sailing, Oct 15, 2013
This morning we are told that this will be the fastest crossing ever and before night fall we will see land. That afternoon the Captain decides to stop the boat since we are making such good time so that we can go swim in the sea once more and get to feel how this is because the water is only 3km deep. Around 5pm we see land and come to port around 9pm, the Captain confirms that the total sailing time was 23hrs and this was his fastest trip ever, the sailing gods were in our favor.
Saying goodbye to the Island.


Friday 11 October 2013

San Blas Islands, Boat Independence

Day 101, Oct 11, 2013, 121km

Made it to Cartagena, Colombia, and this is the continuing of day 101, before we sailed.

Good news for anyone travelling the Darian Gap towards the end of this month, according to one of the Captains a new Ferry service will be in operation.

First thing this morning I started to compact my large amount of gear to a somewhat more manageable size. I haven't camped since San Diego so this would be the thing to downsize on and in the hope that I would not need it in this next leg of my journey I removed my Winter Sleeping-bag, Stove, and  Thermos can plus some small things that were taking up space. After repacking all this I ended up with one less dry sack to carry or lug around. I did throw all this stuff on the free rack at the Hostel and locking back after about 5 min, all of it was gone, someone must of wanted it and I hope it comes to good use.

This morning it was poring rain so we waited and hoped it would clear up by noon, only thing is if we did this it would not give us any spare time before heading to San Blas. We decided to wait and of course the rain did not stop. The fastest route was over the Corredor Sur where we come to a toll both that says $1.40, when I try paying the attendant, he says where is your card, because you need to swipe this first, I ask the attendant what do you mean? there is no sign saying that I need a card, it only says $1.40.

By now the cars are starting to honk and the lady calls the supervisor over and all this makes is for more honking. The supervisor says you cannot get through unless you show one of these cards and he pulls a bunch of the cards out of his pocket that you can buy for $8.00. I tell the guy that nowhere is there a sign saying this and I will wait here until doomsday if needed, so he better be prepared because this will be the start of an international incident right here right now, you should have seen this guys face by now, the cars are honking like crazy, and drivers scrambling to find other gates, luckily one Panamanian guy gets out of his car and says to the supervisor I will let them through by swiping my card, we pay the Panamanian guy $3 and we go through, of all things stupid the supervisor could have done the same, but no.

The last part of the road towards San Blas is one crazy up and down, twisty road and a real treat for us after riding in the rain the whole time it now starts to clear up, and we did have to pay the $13 to be able to continue through Kuna territory. We make it to the Barzukun River and we see the Lancha boat that will take our bikes to the Independence. After the Kuna Indians try different ways to see how it would be best to get the bike on the boat they tell us to bring the bike down the steep grassy embankment towards the boat where they will lift it up over the railing. Six guys fumbling and a lot of lets see how this goes gets the bikes in and away we go after paying them $15 per bike for there services.

When we get to the Independence they lower the Dingy and then hoist our bikes up, then across the deck and tied down towards the railing and deck, here is where they will stay until we reach the other side

We stowed our gear inside the boat and then we were taken to the Carti Island where we will stay the night amongst the Kuna Indians. The sleeping arrangement is in a loft above one of the many shacks that are on the Island and it has no sink or toilet so if you need to go just head out to the shack with the toilet hanging out above the ocean, our as they call it the Kuna toilet, for some strange reason this whole thing makes me feel like I'm in the movie Water World, and find it really cool.
After diner we did buy a bottle of Cola and that with the duty free Rum made for a small party as we talked the night away.
The Kuna live from the fishing and tourist that come here and ask $1 for everything, including taking pictures with them, a very simple life and they seem to be happy with it, but from my perspective I would only wish that they had more pride in there surroundings because it looks like a dump in many places, including the sea bottom around the piers.
I will respond to your post’s and more pictures to come with the rest of the story.