Week 15 - El Cocuy Adventure
Updated: Feb 23
We left Bogota to head North to the Boyaca region, more specifically El Cocuy. On our first time in the region we had stuck to the main highway, so the purpose of this visit was to get on the back-roads!
It took us a few days, more due to the fact that I was quite under the weather, however one of the day's riding we had was the best day's riding we had had on the trip so far and left us both in even more awe of what Colombia has to offer.
Cucunuba, Oiba and Soata
We left Bogota and headed North The aim of the next few days of riding was to get to El Cocuy, a small village in the Boyaca region close to the El Cocuy National Park, which we were highly recommended to visit by our friends Michnus and Elsebie. Most of the riding for the day was twisty tarmac, however we stayed at a place called Hotel Campestre Los Duraznoson, at the top of a hill in a small town called Cucunuba which was beautiful, and there was a good bit of dirt road to reach the place as well.
The following day we also ended up on twisty tarmac, however I was feeling abnormally shattered so we decided to stay in a hotel at the side of a road near Oiba. The hotel came complete with swimming pool and restaurant so we went for a gentle swim, ate some food and rested...lots.
On the Wednesday morning we got up and left to head across to El Cocuy, although as we realised on route, we wouldn't be able to make it in one day. I have to say, it was the best day of riding we had had so far; Awesome views, dirt road for over 100km, nice weather, the bikes played nice and no falling off! We thoroughly enjoyed the various landscapes which changed from views that reminded us of the Swiss/French Alps, Scotland, and of course Colombia itself. We felt spoilt and on a day like that we had to keep pinching ourselves that it was all real and we were actually there!
We found a hotel to stay in Soata near the main high-street. I felt I was coming down with something as I had a very sore throat by later that night, and that's probably why I had felt so shattered the previous day. My voice became very hoarse by the morning so we stayed in Soata three nights until the Saturday morning. In that time I didn't do much other than sit outside and help Kelvin with the bikes if he needed an extra pair of hands. Fortunately he managed most stuff very well without me. He sorted out the air filters, handle bar raisers on my bike and my exhaust, which continues to be a pain. I wrote a little bit and just rested; it was a sore throat from hell, but my first illness of the trip, plus we had had a lot of temperature changes over the past few weeks. I felt crappy for a few days but we booked a hostel in El Cocuy for the Saturday so I didn't feel too sorry for myself and just to make sure I got moving again and didn't go into hibernation!
As planned, we left for El Cocuy on the saturday. We took the back roads, but it took us seven hours due to poor navigation! There were several occasions where the GPS and sat navs were lucky to have survived and weren't thrown in the river! It rained a lot of the day and I wasn't feeling great but there were lush views, so we still had a nice ride despite the number of times we ended up off course...the joys of adventure travel!
Half an hour before we reached El Cocuy I came off my bike quite spectacularly on a small stream and got flipped off the bike down a ravine. Luckily, I was unhurt except for a bruise on my hip and another on my shin. This was despite going literally head over heels, getting completely disorientated and ending us a couple of meters below the level of the road!
I was fortunately caught by the branches and bamboo of a fallen tree instead of falling even further into the stream and rocks. Phew! Kelvin was able to reach down and help me up, and the intercoms had worked well as I was able to tell him I was ok, because he was panicking quite a lot as I disappeared upside down over the edge, surprisingly enough! A few minutes earlier and the drops were 100s of metres! If you look at the picture, I fell down into area '1' in red and crawled out of area '2' in yellow, but the picture doesn't show depth very well. I so wish my camera had been on!! Anyway, we just about managed to pick the bike up, which fortunately hadn't followed me off the side of the road, and we found the hostel (Casa Museo la Posada del Molino) in El Cocuy about forty minutes later. It was a bargain at only 40000 pesos a night (about £10). We found a place to get some nice hot food and headed to bed as I felt rubbish, mainly because of the fluey cold, not because I ended up going for a flying lesson. I spent Sunday and Monday in bed except to get food, although I was very happy when we found a little restaurant serving an awesome lasagne...the first one of the trip and it did not disappoint the taste buds.
After a lot of lounging around watching Netflix on the iPad in bed for two days, we went for a small circular ride around El Cocuy. It was a beautiful 50km of dirt road with great views. The only letdown was the weather as it was cold and rainy; of course we did manage to find a little cafe for a nice hot coffee and a couple of empanadas each, so it could have been worse! When we returned from our mini adventure, we packed our mound of gear ready to leave the next day.
El Cocuy was definitely worth the trip to get to, and there's nothing like being in a little town, with minimal tourists and unspoilt countryside. The people were lovely, typical small-town Colombian's with their big cowboy hats and woolen ponchos, and yet again like everywhere else so far in Colombia that we have been, we felt quite safe. Big plus point...the roads are AWESOME!
The next destination in our sights: Los Nevados National Park in the Tolima area of Colombia.