Colombia Motorcycle Adventure Log: Day 02

Traveling Colombia via motorcycle: rainforests and bungalows.

We find ourselves in a bungalow near La Miel River, just outside the town of La Dorada. It was a long day of riding, nine hours of travel with just over seven of actual seat time. Hailey is exhausted. This is easily the longest day she's ever been on a bike, and despite a stiff upper lip, by the end she'd had enough. She collapsed into her bed seconds after arriving, finding a second wind only when the dinner bell rang.

Colombia Motorcycle Adventure BMW
A small village in the rainforest of the Easter Mountains. The Colombian backcountry is dotted with tiny townships just like these.Photo: Shawn Thomas

We spent most of the day traversing Colombia's Eastern Mountain Range, making our way up and down and up again along rocky dirt roads and through tiny villages. We would stop for a snack, and locals would flock to offer the sale of food, trinkets and even emeralds (the mountains here are famous for their emerald mines). The kids here are shy, but could be coaxed to say hello and try on our riding gear with some patience. I asked one of the locals for a bathroom, and was directed to a small urinal right out in the middle of everything, near where several old dudes were dining. Very strange, but desperate times call for action.

Colombia Motorcycle Adventure BMW
Colombians are generally very shy. The kids were boldest, yet maintained a respectful distance until coerced to come and see the foreigners and their machines.Photo: Shawn Thomas

We have been solidly within the Colombian rainforest, and it is intensely beautiful. The dirt roads are expertly cut into the mountainsides, but require constant maintenance as the forest seems intent on reclaiming its territory. Giant trucks full of building materials move with unnatural stealth, easing through the passes and offering just enough room for our tiny machines to pass. The weather goes from hot to cold and back again in moments, making us glad for proper riding gear.

Colombia Motorcycle Adventure BMW
The roads changed abruptly from asphalt to dirt and back again, each with their own rustic charm.Photo: Shawn Thomas

An unexpected revelation of this tour has been my part in it. For years I have been an experienced tour guide, and with this title, the go-to for leading expeditions for others. With this comes enormous responsibility for the safety and entertainment of a group, something I do not take lightly. Before this day I can hardly remember a time when I rode somewhere without responsibility for the group. But here we are just following the lead of Micho, who handles all aspects of food, communication, lodging, bathroom breaks, and what-have-you. Pretty damned cool, though I find the complete reliance on another person to be a little unnerving. If Micho were to collapse at this moment, I would have no idea where I was or how to find help. Kinda strange, both to be so helpless and to be so comfortable with it.

Colombia Motorcycle Adventure BMW
It has been the longest day of riding Hailey has ever experienced, and she is exhausted. She finds a small bench on the river ferry to catch her breath.Photo: Shawn Thomas

We have a short day of riding tomorrow, so we will start late. Micho says he has a surprise for us in the morning. If it's half as good as the ride so far, we will surely be delighted!

Colombia Motorcycle Adventure BMW
Hailey offers a smile while traversing the river on en route to our bungalow. This was no small feat, as her exhaustion from the day resulted in immediate slumber once we found her a bed.Photo: Shawn Thomas
Colombia Motorcycle Adventure BMW
The ride to our riverfront Bungalow. The bikes were parked and unloaded before we were whisked upriver in unique fashion.Photo: Shawn Thomas
Colombia Motorcycle Adventure BMW
Our waterfront bungalow, complete with mosquito nets to protect from insects. Despite the precautions, there were very few sightings of the flying menace.Photo: Shawn Thomas
Colombia Motorcycle Adventure BMW
Shawn and Hailey's route on day 2 of their Colombian adventure.Photo: Shawn Thomas