Cycling The Globe

A Cycle Touring Expedition Around The World

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Day 1622, Santa Rosa – Puerto Valdivia: Goodbye Andes

Posted by Thomas Andersen Posted on Mar - 17 - 2015

Distance: 107.92 km
Ride time: 5:04:12
Average: 21.28 km/h
Max speed: 61.43 km/h
Total: 33741 km

When I left Medellin yesterday I thought my route would be a busy highway towards Cartagena. The road might be the most direct route, but it is certainly still very much a local route. As I walked across the central square in Santa Rosa looking for a place to have breakfast I got quite a few looks – they don’t see many tourists out here.

I don’t have a very detailed map over this part of Colombia, so I was somewhat cycling in the blind today. I knew that my road would eventually descend from 2500 m all the way down to sea level, but I didn’t know when it would happen. The first part of the day I was still climbing through mountains with diary cows on the small green patches of grass along the road.

Colombia is a country where some discretion is apparently needed. I pass several motels like this one every day.

After lunch I was still climbing. On one hand I was starting to look forward to the descend towards sea level, on the other hand I was trying to appreciate this final climb. After a year of cycling in South America I feel I have a special connection with the Andes mountains!

Finally I was there; in a rain shower I reached the top of the pass among the green mountains. A sign proclaimed that a dangerous descend was now following. At some point during the descend I stopped to check my breaks. They were burning hot from all the breaking. The temperature was also on a steady rise. On top of the climb I had been wearing my jacket. Now I was back in shorts and T-shirt.

An hour before sunset I passed the bridge at Puerto Valdivia. This marked the final goodbye to the Andes mountains. We have had our fights over the last year but in the end we parted as friends. What a place on earth, the Andes!

I’m now reunited with Rio Cauca, a major Colombian river that I have been following on and off all the way since Cali.

Last night I had been sleeping with 3 blankets in my room up in the mountains. Now I needed two fans to keep me cool down here next to the Cauca River in another very local village.

Categories: Colombia
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3 Responses so far.

  1. Marcos C. says:


    You are, indeed, a strong climber with the bike (with all that load at the back wheel).

    I can’t imagine myself going up those steep passes even in in my younger days.

    Very nice pictures of the Colombian countryside!

    A question still lurks in my mind as to why did you bypass the country of Brazil in your South American journey???

  2. Hi Marcos! The thing about South America is that the whole central part is taken up by the Amazonas rain forrest. You will have to decide if go the left way or the right way around. Since I had already been in Brazil (not cycling) I thought the western route through Peru, Ecuador and Colombia would be better for me. Would love to come back to Brazil one day though…

  3. Parting as friends. What a ride it’s been!