Cycling holiday in Colombia

Cycling holiday in Colombia

In the last 10 years the number of tourist visiting Colombia has been tripled, and at the moment Colombia is the most popular holiday destination. The biggest reason for this huge increase is thanks to the peace agreement between the Santos government and the FARC. After signing the agreement, the mindset of foreigners regarding safety in Colombia has changed drastically.

Where ten years ago Colombia would be a destination for backpackers or adventure-seekers, the South-American country now welcomes families, luxury travelers and retired couples. Another big increasing group are cyclists. Colombia has a rich cycling history, and with the current generation they are getting headlines in the sports news again. The combination of this love for cycling deeply rooted inside the Colombian and the Andes mountains crossing through the country makes Colombia an ideal cycling holiday destination.

Growing media attention

thereabouts 3 discovering colombia
thereabouts 3 discovering colombia

Colombia as a cycling destination has been the main topic already for quite some press and videos. The Morton brothers came here last year to shoot the 3th chapter of their Thereabouts movie. Lachlan and Gus Morton rode their bikes from Bogotá to Medellin and documented the daily life of the average Colombian. And then there was Rapha, who made a documentary called Abrazos and offered cycling holidays in Colombia as well. These media gave the cyclist looking for a new destination a good look into the cycling culture and roads Colombia has to offer.

“Riding your bike in Colombia is awesome!”

For many years, destinations like Tuscany, Mallorca, California or the French Alps have been the most popular destination for a cycling holiday. But we really hope that Colombia will not only be on the bucketlist of many cyclists, but that it will become one of the standard destinations for cyclists. Why? Because riding your bike in Colombia is awesome! The love for cycling is huge among the locals, and this translates in great respect for cyclists. Cars will be patient, and pedestrians will shout supporting words like “Vamos Nario” – referring to Colombia’s biggest cycling star Nairo Quintana. And then there’s the beautiful landscape, with mountains everywhere. You can cross one of the three Cordilleras of the Andes in one cycling holiday, or go big and cross all three.

climbing alto de letras, world's longest climb
climbing alto de letras, world’s longest climb

The biggest marketing tool for cycling in Colombia has to be the Alto de Letras, known as the longest climb in the world. With more than 80 kilometers of length and more than 3600 meters of vertical climbing this climb is an absolute bucketlist item. To get an idea of what its like to climb this monster, read our story here.

What will it be like?

If you’re still with me by now, it means you are seriously interested in visiting Colombia as your next cycling holiday destination. So let’s see if we can give you an idea of what a cycling holiday in Colombia will be like. First, you gotta love climbing mountains because it either goes up or down in Colombia. But where’s the fun in flat kilometers, right? Colombia does not have the biggest infrastructure when it comes down to roads, but the road quality is good. Most important is that you should pick the roads that are not the main roads connecting big cities and ports. These are filled with slow trucks, and could lead to riding your bike in a traffic jam. But luckily there are plenty of great smaller roads connecting amazing towns.

Riding through Colombia's Colonial towns
Riding through Colombia’s Colonial towns

These towns are almost never mentioned in any tourist guide such as lonely planet or shoestring, but will amaze you with its beauty. Stopping on the main square for a cup of coffee and a local snack is a must, and try to have a talk with the locals. These friendly people are genuinely interested in your story and are grateful that you decided to visit their country. But back to the cycling part. Because of its size, Colombia has a very diverse landscape, and going on a long trip will let you see the changes of the terrain, the colors, the culture and the food. The differences between Bogotá and Medellin are already huge, and the climbs in these areas are very different as well. Riding your bike in the Coffee hub – also known as the Eje Cafetero – can be compared with Tuscany, only with longer climbs and even more beautiful landscapes. Boyacá is known as the heart of the cycling culture and pure heaven for riding your bike. It is here where you will find the most amazing colonial villages along the route.

Finally, when it comes down to safety lots have improved, although it wasn’t all that bad as the western press has pictures us. The Colombian people are super friendly and I luckily I have not once been in any dangerous situation. But at the same time, Colombia is still a third world country with poverty very visible. So don’t be naive, be aware of the value of your products and don’t leave things unattended. But I guess this could be written for pretty much any country in the world.

If you are interested in a cycling holiday in Colombia after reading this background story, just send us a message. We have great contacts that can help organize your perfect cycling holiday. 

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