Empezamos con Colombia

Here starts the last year of my world trip.
After traveling alone for 24 months, I had now Iulia by my side (I had met her in the Canaries just before sailing to Cuba). We had kept a strong contact through last year and decided to meet again and travel together.

 

DSC_0516

The plan was to go from Colombia to Argentina where I would end my trip and return to France. Both of us spoke a little bit of Spanish and hardly knew anything about South America. Thus, we had to figure out how to travel through that continent step by step.
Actually, the first thing we encountered was a tropical fever for Iulia.

DSC_0522

However, it did not last long and a few days later we were already on the road…
Just like I used to do, we only set a direction (south) and started walking and hitchhiking towards it.

DSC_0527

We decided to avoid most touristic places. Basically, the more remote, the better !
On our first night, we arrived in Sonson, a beautiful village lost in the mountains.

DSC_0529

We were quite surprised to realize that we were standing at 2500 m.
Indeed, we were just entering the northern Andes. That blew me away. Even at that height, it was still super warm !

DSC_0532Most people I had met had advised me never to hitchike through Colombia since it was supposed to be super dangerous. However, most of them had never hitchhiked in Colombia and some had even never been there.
We gave it a try. he road we were traveling looked easy going.

DSC_0531

The first ride we got set the mood… Yes, we were surely going to hitchhike that country ! No doubts !

DSC_0546

At night, like I used to do, we looked for a nice and quiet place to sleep. In that part of the country, it was not hard to find.

DSC_0553

The constant warmth made us sweat a lot. However, nature is always balanced – the more you sweat, the more waterfalls and natural showers you encounter.

DSC_0557

Anytime we found a trail, we hiked it. However, Colombia in that matter was complicated, as most natural parks are not really for hiking but more to protect the environment.

20190104_172225

Even if we hitchhiked a lot, we had to try some local transports such as rural buses called Chiva !

chiva-Antioquia

I still haven’t figured out how the driver could go down the road so fast without crashing.

DSC_0560

We were now entering a high altitude zone called Chiganza National Park. We wanted to hike there and discover what a 4000 m tropical landscape looked like.

DSC_0563

It started to be cold and rainy. As we mostly slept in our tent, we asked locals if they knew a safe and dry place to sleep. Without hesitation, a nice family offered us to sleep on their roof… with a wooden oven included !

20190107_201816

Kindness of Colombians was encountered no matter where we went.

DSC_0568

We entered the park and met locals who offered us a place to stay to make sure we would have enough energy for the upcoming hikes.

DSC_0570

Overwhelmed by that kindness, we shared and cooked a meal to thank them.

DSC_0574

The next morning, we started walking and we realized that we could have reached the park because it had become difficult to breathe. The lack of oxygen was the consequence of the high altitude.

DSC_0577

Still, it was worth it. We discovered one of the most peculiar environment we could have ever imagined.

DSC_0584DSC_0580

Beautiful yet freezing !

DSC_0590

Beautiful, yes, but we soon had enough and decided to warm up. Still heading south, our next (far away) objective was the Tatacoa desert, the driest area of Colombia. The way to get there was beautiful.

DSC_0604

Having Iulia around also changed a little bit my habits. She loved walking and discovering small villages. Thus, we decided to slow down a little bit and walk just from village to village.

DSC_0613

We followed dirt roads (thank God google maps exist) and set up our tent around 5 pm every night. Indeed, Colombia is not that dangerous, as long as you respect basic security rules :
– Avoiding walking at night.
– Always have a place to sleep before it gets dark.

20190113_124926

To sleep, just like I did in USA, we asked locals if we could set up our tent in their garden or their farm for one night. That provided us the security we needed.

DSC_0616

On our way to Tatacoa desert, we went through a lot of places where there were no tourists… Safe to say, we did not go unnoticed !

DSC_0619

As we were getting closer to the desert, the landscape changed and became warmer and more tropical.

DSC_0629

We did not have to buy any fruits anymore… Mango trees were everywhere !

DSC_0627

Sometimes, locals questioned what we were doing and invited us to their homes. Once again, no matter what country I was in, as long as I behaved and acted respectfully, people were super welcoming.

DSC_0622

A few days later we left the tropical area, and got closer to the desert.

DSC_0637

We spent a few days in a small village in Javier’s house (a nice and very peculiar local) as I got stroke by the turista (third time in that trip). Our host took care of us until I recovered.

DSC_0644.JPG

What we probably enjoyed the most is the simplicity of Colombians… They always want to help no matter what.

DSC_0654.JPG

No rooms inside the truck ? Go on top !

DSC_0660

Thanks to that long ride, we made it to the desert. Once again, hospitality was at the door.

DSC_0664

Since cold and harsh mountains were awaiting us after the desert, we decided to take our time to thoroughly enjoy the place. Thus, we crossed the whole thing by foot.

DSC_0668

In order to survive the heat, we would only walk in mornings, evenings and at night.

DSC_0678

It was tough but payoffs were huge. Stunning !

20190122_103423

We spent 3 days in total in the desert.

DSC_0701

We finally left it, with that beautiful landscape behind us.

DSC_0707

The green color started to appear again.

DSC_0709

And a good 35 kilometers later, we made it to the first town…

DSC_0676

On our way to the Andes, we passed through a small city called Baraya.
We went there because the whole place lays by a huge lake. As we went through so much heat in the last few days, we decided to stop there for some time.

DSC_0717

The lake was too big to swim, but we saw many people fishing around.
Naturally, we asked one of the fisherman if we could rent his boat for a few days. Surprised and confused at first, he soon agreed to give it to us for 10 000 pesos a day (around 3€).

20190125_154320

We followed him through his field, and soon reached that beautiful unsinkable boat.

DSC_0722

Good enough ! We just had to empty water from time to time !

20190125_163830

We went for a 3 day adventure. Swimming during the day and settling on the shore at night.

DSC_0734.JPGDSC_0740

We landed in tiny pueblos to load food and water when needed.

DSC_0730

Locals laughed a lot at this, since they had never seen any tourist on those fisherman boats.

20190126_133637

Last sunset on the lake… Time to go back to mountains now.

20190126_181106

The southern part of Colombia is less developed and less touristic than the north. Perfect!

DSC_0743

Walking our way through all those villages was something absolutely fantastic. We discovered colors I had never seen before.

 

20190129_152306

We tried to cover 20 to 30 kilometers every day.

 

 

20190129_105906

But most of the time, locals passed and gave us a ride…

20190124_130931

In this area (called Cauca), we went through a lot of dirt roads (shown as main roads on google maps) and met a great amount of Colombians.

DSC_0767

As we gained altitude, we entered a vast area full of coffee plantations… Iulia’s heaven.

DSC_0764

The smaller the road, the more peculiar are rides… In this part of my world trip, I had some of the most unique rides.

20190129_153611

But this one beats them all…

DSC_0770

We had a truck that stopped and offered to take us to the next village. After jumping in, we realized he was carrying 500 freshly cut cow skins. Ough, that was a long 5 hours.

20190201_112800

But in the end, it was worth it. We went through Purace national park, which was a beautiful cold natural wonder. The view went on for kilometers…

DSC_0799

We hiked a little bit around the park then headed back south.

DSC_0784

We met a couple of nice teachers (most comfortable car so far) who gave us a ride all the way to San Agustin, a city known for its archaeological statues.

DSC_0801

For the first time since we had started traveling, we took a hostel and relaxed a bit for a couple of days.

DSC_0803

Perks of city life are always welcome… It’s always good to have a small wash.

20190204_104045

And meet fantastic people…

DSC_0807

Leaving San Agustin meant we were on our last chapter in Colombia. We were not far away from the Ecuadorian border.
Before leaving the country, we decided to stop in Mocoa, a city marking the beginning of the Amazonian jungle.

DSC_0811

We started hiking in that warm and beautiful environment.

DSC_0812

That’s how we met two locals who were living there, far deep into the jungle.

DSC_0814

They invited us to sleep in the house of their community.

DSC_0834In exchange for our stay, we helped them with cleaning and cooking, while learning a lot about natural medicines of the Amazonian jungle.
People living there were mostly Colombians (some natives too) but also a few foreigners who wanted to learn more about their lifestyle.

DSC_0821

When we weren’t helping, we just hiked around the jungle and discover most beautiful landscapes.

DSC_0825

Just like that powerful waterfall at the heart of the jungle…

DSC_0827

Overall, we spent 2 weeks in the community. It was not easy to leave but the travel went on…

DSC_0841

Our last road to the border was called the Trampoline of death, because it is a very narrow mountain road with a steep gorge on the side, full of waterfalls that fall directly upon the road .

20190223_125206

We finally made it to the border.

20190225_123823

We left a country that had definitely enchanted us. Simplicity of people, their lifestyle, their infinite kindness and the dramatic range of landscape… Colombia left us moved!

Sans titre

 

 

6 thoughts on “Empezamos con Colombia

  1. Merci Arthur de nous faire vivre tes aventures extraordinaires 😁depuis l’auto stoppeur du Maroc, les Camping-caristes Bretons suivent ton parcours avec enthousiasme et bonheur 👍Bienvenue à Julia and good luck for your last adventure and your next Come back to us 😀 all the best for toi 😜👍😘

    Like

  2. Amazing Arthur!

    I’m glad you are still having such an awesome adventure. I’m also great full that you are exposing the humility and kindness of the human race! Please be safe! I look forward to every word you post on here and cannot await your next tale 🙂 !!!

    Till we meet again,
    Rory

    Like

  3. Coucou Arthur ,
    Merci pour ces fenêtres ouvertes qui sont autant d’échappées vers un dépaysement magnifique aux couleurs, beautés contrastées, et aux découvertes toujours plus réjouissantes comme en témoignent vos larges sourires !!
    Bonne continuation dans cette belle aventure , je t’embrasse. Raphaëlle

    Like

  4. Whouah les paysages sont vraiment exceptionnels! j’espère que tu vas bien et que tu t’éclates toujours autant! 🙂

    Like

  5. Un grand Merci Arthur pour ce nouveau partage de tes aventures. Vos sourires à tous les 2 sont magnifiques… Ravie que ton amie t’incite à marcher davantage ;-))
    Bises

    Like

  6. J’adore lire tous ces commentaires sur toi. Mon si formidable Arthur.
    La lecture de ce volet sur la Colombie est un enchantement. C’est un festival de découvertes, de rencontres, de paysages…
    Je me faisais une toute autre image de ce pays.
    On en apprend des trucs avec toi !
    Bon séjour en Équateur avec la charmante Iulia !🙃

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s