Latest posts by Warren (see all)

I originally made a booking to ride Colombia in 2019 but just prior to that I rode South Africa where I was attacked. After that experience I paused and had a rethink of my plans to ride solo in South America. I remained interested to ride the Andes mountains of Ecuador, Peru and Colombia but no longer sure about safety.

I mentioned in my Mexico ride report that I want to action as many things as I can because I don’t know if my cancer will stay in remission. So this year I am trying to bring forward some of these rides. Ecuador is currently in a state of emergency due to crime and Peru moto tours all focus on visiting tourist sites in the south and not riding the Andes. Colombia looked the winner.

I prefer independent riding. If I had someone to ride with then I’d not hesitate to travel these countries independently. I thought I might have found someone with similar passion but alas that still eludes me. Perhaps I need to talk more bullshit and machismo ha-ha. Anyway waiting is not an option so I am joining Mike of Moto Dreamer tours who I have followed on Instagram a few years.

From Mexico I fly to Bogota, a city with a bit of a reputation, but I am told like most of Colombia it is not dangerous now. Still I’m happy that Mike has his staff meet and transfer me to the tour hotel. It’s a little thing but makes me feel welcome in a city I am not sure about. Turns out the hotel is in a upmarket part of town with designer fashion shops and private security on every corner so it is not problem to explore on foot.

I meet a couple of other riders but am still exhausted from the Mexico tour so decline to go sightseeing. Actually from what I saw between the airport and downtown I am not inspired to go outside the safe area I am in. Instead I am getting all my clothes laundered and just taking it easy in local cafes. The other riders arrive the next day. We are from UK, Portugal, Germany, USA, Canada and one other Australian who is a moto journalist.

Mike gives us a excellent briefing and explains the insurance. Both are very professional compared to the Mexico tour where the insurance policy was not worth the paper it was printed on. Next we check over the bikes. I’m riding a BMW 750GS and I might try writing a comparison Vs the big 1250GS I rode in Mexico after this tour. Riding all tarmac on both of these tours I see no reason to have a ADV bike but it was impossible to select any other style and I note rentals of non ADV bikes are becoming harder to find also.

Bogota to Honda

Riding out of Bogota was at times intense but after riding Mexico city I was somewhat prepared. Mid morning we stop for coffee before we start into the mountains where the roads are superb for riding motorcycles. The pace is very fast and to be honest much faster than I ride these days. I can keep up but drift to the back to slow a little as the all male riders at the front are riding like in a race with each other.

There have been no photo stops so I get my little Casio camera out and for once this came out ok but alas I do have some problems with the little camera again after here.

Todays one and only photo stop, it is a spectacular view although not captured so well in this photo.

After some superb mountain curves we drop down off the range into the valley where the temperature soars to 41 degrees. I am glad Mike stops for a break fairly soon so I can rehydrate and I down two bottles of Gatorade. I have plenty of experience riding in heat but I see some of the other riders are not fairing as well.

Then it is a high speed sweeping curve road to Salento where we are doing 130-160kph, It’s fast enough to lower the real feel temp but I am glad for an early finish today.

At a lovely boutique hotel it is still 38 degrees so I jump under a cold shower to lower my temperature then follow this up with a couple of cold beers.

Honda to Salento

This morning we visit the site of small city that was wiped out by the eruption of Nevado Del Ruiz volcano in 1985 that created a landslide and lava flow which killed 25,000 people. Now it is a ghost town that nature is slowly reclaiming.

After here Mike takes us over a new road that has just been sealed up to top of that very same volcano.

Check that elevation!

This road was gravel for years but now is the new premium mountain road of Colombia that ascends to a height of 4100m!

Sorry no photos on the way up, the pace is again crazy fast until we reach the small country town of Murillo that since the sealing of the road has been flooded with tourists, mostly on motorcycles which are very popular in Columbia just like Thailand or Philippines.

From this village at 3000m we climb another 1000m to the clouds on a road that joins the best motorcycle roads I have ridden in the world.

Sorry about the photo quality – phone camera shows it’s limitations here (p.s. see the waterfall?)

This new road is truly superb but very busy on this Sunday. It is not so long after opening and 100’s of riders from around the country have travelled to ride this high mountain road. I feel fortunate to be here. There are even natural volcanic hot spring pools that are right next to the road that some locals have stripped off and are bathing in.

The descent is also good and there is a side road that I would have loved to photograph as it appears to be a mini Transfagarasan pass that we did not take but it is already well past lunch and I want to eat so I follow the group and we stop half way down at a cafe which today is very busy but serves a hearty hot meal then we continue to the pretty mountain town Salento on back roads which are curvy but congested.

Mike certainly doesn’t short change you on hotels. Many group tours (bike or otherwise) rip you off by charging for 3 or 4 star hotels then booking the cheapest. I mentioned previously I left a ride group called the Black Dog Adventure Club because the organizer did a bait and switch on hotels and what turned me off group travel when I was younger was a tour I did with Intrepid which was horrible on many levels especially the shitty accommodation.

Beers at Salento town square. The guides Mike and Heine at rear beside me and three other riders on the tour enjoying some beers at the historic pub on the main square in Salento. The regional towns are both scenic and very safe for tourists.

We are eating at nice restaurants each night but the food has so far been slightly underwhelming. Colombia does not do spicy food. They do on the other hand know how to make a great Mojito and I enjoyed a few tonight with one of the tour riders from Germany.

Salento to Cali

This morning we visit a coffee plantation. The claim is Colombia coffee consistently gets rated the best due to it being all hand picked so only ripe beans yellow and red are harvested while other countries use machines to pick and get some green beans in the mix.

Yeah I am doing the full tourist thing this morning. I never do this stuff when riding solo so it’s a nice change, but I’m ready to get back on bike after couple hours of this and no desire to become a regular tourist.

Honestly I did not really like the coffee, but then I dislike drip filter coffee. I like Italian espresso coffee.

I am a long way from home at the moment.

The remainder of the morning was riding down from the high coffee region on nice albeit busy roads then a lunch stop (above) before the final descent to the valley and back into high temperatures.

From the valley south to Cali the ride was not much fun. This afternoon the roads were major truck routes and most of the ride was spent sitting on the bumper of one diesel soot spewing truck after another waiting for a chance to pass often with very little gaps or room for error. It’s not something I like or would normally be doing. The ride into Cali city was gridlock traffic requiring some intense lane splitting while also sweltering in 38 degree heat at traffic lights.

Cali is where Mike lived the last 15 years and still has property and business interests but he is in the process of moving to Denmark due to the increase in kidnappings of children of business people and a increase in cartel crime and a new president that is playing all the cards from the dictators play book suggesting that Colombia is on a path to join bankrupt Nicaragua in the future. (so come ride it soon as you can if interested)

This tour used to operate out of Cali previously and the route has simply not been changed but with the bikes now supplied in Bogota there was really no reason for the group to ride the congested journey down here today. There is nothing special planned for our one night here and we have to ride back the same way tomorrow returning to the mountains we left today.

Cali to Montenegro

The next day the ride out of Cali is thankfully not as bad as trip in. We retrace some of yesterdays route and one of the bikes using spoke wheels with tubes gets a flat tyre while the bike being ridden by the chase rider Heine has a wheel bearing failure moments later. Having a support vehicle with bike trailer means the rest of the group can continue while these things are attended to behind us.

Mike wants to take a detour across a river on a small ferry. Its stinking hot and takes a couple of goes to get the bikes across then the road other side is dusty gravel so I did not feel it was worth all the trouble – but least it provided a photo stop opportunity, something in very short supply on this tour.

You know the phrase ‘island time’ and while in Mexico I learned the phrase ‘Mexican time’ but of greater magnitude is ‘Colombian time’. They joke that in Colombia if you want to meet friends at 6pm you set the meeting for 5pm. Checking in to hotels here has so many pointless procedures all done in mind numbingly slow Colombian time. It took 40 minutes today to get my key which makes even the Philippines look efficient.

I am impressed that Mike could phone and BMW would send a new wheel bearing with a mechanic to the resort tonight to fix the affected bike. That’s service.

Tonight was Mikes birthday and we walked from the resort to the nearest pub for a few drinks but I wisely decided to leave early once the shots started flowing and avoided what ended as a messy night with sore heads the following day.

Montenegro to Medellin

A mixture of roads today, initially some pleasant curves in the mountain coffee growing region. It’s a ‘race to the death’ again at the front of the ride group with guys jostling for the lead positions. By now I am sick of the pace and stop for a couple of photos but then feel pressured to get a move on.

We stop for fresh pineapple. I loved Taiwan pineapple when in Japan (it has no hard centre). These were golden inside and super sweet.

After this we again drop down from higher roads into the valleys and the temperature soars. Fortunately the road is mostly flowing although there are some stop go road works where we filter to the front but are exposed to baking hot sun while waiting for the green go.

With no breaks and a late lunch stop some way off I am starting to feel myself fading and lose concentration and immediately pull over under a tree to take a rest and drink some water from my top box. I was already at the rear of the group which were taking unnecessary risks passing on blind crests and blind corners. I feel a little guilty to be holding up the chase rider but then my safety is more important and I am the customer after all.

Rested I continue and having had a gut full of stopping at roadworks in 39 degrees just ride past the stop sign and filter against the oncoming cars on the one lane and the guide follows me. Going to be hard to adjust back to obeying road rules after this when I ride New Zealand next month.

If you are a single man you may not remain one for long in Colombia. On the left with the great smile is Vanessa who tells me straight up she is single and wants to add me in WhatsApp. In Australia women screw up their face and act like they stepped in dog shit if I say hello.

Medellin is a huge city to ride into which was stressful. The high temperature today took it’s toll on one of the American riders who suffered heat stroke and needed medical assistance. The downtown entertainment district however is fantastic and worth the ride in. Actually it’s much better than it had been described to me by a friend that visits here every year. I wish we had skipped Cali and had two nights here.

Medellin to Doradal

Medellin. A elevated city that has mild weather all year.

A congested ride from Medellin to Guatape to visit this monolith. I did not climb, far too many steps to attempt wearing motorcycle boots.

The town of Guatape was very scenic and I was hopeful we would have lunch in its pretty square as it was already 2.00pm after waiting for riders who climbed the rock but alas we were asked to ride on.

The weather which had been hot and sunny every day then suddenly turned and became cold then low clouds rolled in with light rain. The group had raced ahead despite visibility being almost zero and not stopped to put wet weather gear on. I eventually caught them up at a run down roadside cafe. All were soaked and shivering but I was dry and warm having donned my wet gear and enjoyed my hot coffee and bowl of soup. I found myself kind of the odd one out by now – and not just because I was dry.

We rode over the next mountain and then out of the rain in another 30 minutes. The road on to Doradal was itself not bad but was another busy route full of trucks so right up to almost darkness was spent sitting behind crawling trucks belching soot waiting for a place to make a dash to the tail of the next truck and so on. I was glad to get off the road tonight.

Mike delivers more great accommodation tonight. I have light dinner and excuse myself early. The conversations by the other riders tend to be pissing contests and machismo and by now I was already looking ahead to the tour ending to be honest. I mastered the slow ride in Japan and like to just cruise these days, stopping at anything and everything. The riding here is very demanding, so fast every day with little room for error.

Doradal to Vila de Leyva

First up today we visit the former home of drug lord Pablo Escobar. He had his own zoo which now is a theme park owned by government. Colombia wants to move on from those terrible years and his house and plane and other references to him have all been demolished now. We only stopped at the gate.

This morning is mostly flowing road ridden at high speed which I didn’t mind on four lane low traffic highways while the temperature has already soared into the 30’s. At a late morning break while a top box that broke off the chase riders bike is salvaged I am tempted to try the deep fried dumplings at a street food stall since lunches have been getting later every day but am not game after getting ill in Mexico so settle for cold drink only. Everyone here is super friendly and happy to help. You can ride Colombia solo no problem at all and there are bike rentals in Medellin, no need to join a tour.

We return to the mountains but get stuck at roadworks. The support truck catches up so I get one of the trail bars I had packed away to hold me over till lunch. Back on the road we are in the cacao growing region of Colombia and stop at an award winning chocolate maker in the mountains. I’m not fussed about chocolate, it’s something I rarely eat.

Lunch is at a rather poor roadside cafe and I am not game to eat the soup I am serveed with mystery meat in it. I order some french fries which are kind of edible and call it quits after a few of them. Lots of curves on a series of mountain roads after this but the road surface is torn up every few km making it not much fun and bit hairy at times thanks to the breakneck speed being set and dust carried from the gravel sections onto the tarmac.

I’m exhausted by the level of focus the ride pace requires so fall asleep a couple of hours before dinner at tonight’s excellent hotel thus miss seeing the famous Vila de Leyva town square at sunset. I join the others for drinks and dinner at another nice restaurant still serving just simple food then excuse myself to enjoy the street party in the town square where I join everyone buying drinks cheap from shops and sitting around listening to musicians.

Vila de Leyva to Bogota

Final day of riding we have a fairly straight run to Bogota with a small detour to visit an old salt mine that is now an underground cathedral.

I’m not a religious person so found it a bit contrived but enjoyed the cool temperatures inside.

I found the nearby town square more interesting and wanted to spend lunch there however as has happened a bit on this tour instead of eating at the cafes where we at stopped around lunch time we get all our gear on and ride a bit to have a late lunch at a place inferior to where we were, but I am nit picking. By now I am looking forward to reaching Bogota and ending the tour.

The ride into the hotel went better than I expected and before long I was safely back where I had started.

Something I forgot to add when I first posted this ride report the interesting animal warning signs you see riding Colombian roads. I did not actually have time to stop and photo so I just put this together from Google images. I saw all these signs and more but not the animals.

I half considered skipping the farewell dinner tonight I was so tired but made the effort then excused myself after I finished eating. On my Mexico tour the other riders were some of the most wonderful people whom made what was a unprofessional tour into a very enjoyable time for me despite being sick a couple times. In Colombia the tour was very professional but as you can gather I did not connect much with the participants. However I want to say the guides Mike and Heine are super nice guys and I enjoyed hanging out with them off the bike.

So much water so close to home.

From Bogota I have four flights to get home but such was the drain of riding the Colombian roads I slept most of the first two flights which surprised me because I never sleep on planes. From San Francisco I was in Premium Economy seating with United back to Brisbane and again fell asleep and arrived back in Australia fairly rested. (By the way I know Qantas cops a lot of flak (deserved) but their premium economy product on the A380 from Sydney to North America is way better than United’s)

I slept because I was exhausted from the pace of this tour. It demanded lazer like focus on the roads and other vehicles. But those roads were themselves superb. Colombia has not just one Andes range but three with so many roads seemingly made for motorcycling.

Also off the bike the people were friendly and the regional towns with historic centres were safe with affordable food and beers. If I was to return I would fly to Medellin and rent a bike there and make a route similar but a little more to the north and not as far south thus staying in the mountains. However it is so very far away that it’s unlikely I will return nor might I ride Ecuador, Peru or Guatemala. They are so far away and there is so many nice roads in Asia much closer to me.


  1. Well that was a good read again. It’s certainly interesting how you described the racing aspects of the ride — perhaps many of us who started out that way, discover the value in seeing the scenery and making time for photos and drink stops. But it sounds like you was on your own there…
    Obviously, as readers we really like to see how you capture what you write about, and often those pictures say their thousand words.

    • Hi David,

      Yes I used to ride the sort of pace of this ride back when I was much younger, probably up to when I had my Speed Triple then as I moved to riding more by myself my pace slowed except when meeting up with my mate from Alstonville on his Yamaha MT-01 who seemed to always encourage more spirited riding from me.

      I wish I had put my foot down (figurately speaking) and simply stopped more often to take photos of things as there was quite a number of interesting places we passed by and this post does not do the country justice.

      I’m back to luke warm feelings about group tours but looking at the few rides left now on my bucket list none are places I cannot easy ride by myself so I may never need to consider joining a tour again anyway.

  2. Hi Warren
    Another awesome trip report. And an interesting read regarding group riding. I regularly ride with a group of guys who are pretty quick, and it leaves very little time to stop and take a photo and take in the scenery, it could just be for a minute don’t need to take helmets & gloves off, just stop to take a look and a photo. But they are mostly hurrying to get to the pub. They have just about no photos to show of the trip except for bikes outside the pub. Like yourself I like to stop and take photos and have a bit of a look around, mind you I can ride fast but consider a more moderate pace these days is more fun, I guess that comes with ageing.

    Anyway your trip through Colombia looks like it was pretty good, minus the pineapples you can bend over and keep those pal. I don’t think I would have climbed those huge staircase either. They didn’t throw in some free coke with the coffee?

    Thanks for sharing. Dave & I are looking at going to Motegi for Motogp this year. Should be a good trip.


    • Hi Steve,

      Motegi should be awesome, it does rain quite a bit in Japan so please consider covered seating or VIP tent if that exists.
      While there the Honda hall is awesome. For non motorcycle stuff then not far from Motegi is the historic town of Nikko with temples and onsens which your other halfs would like if they are going.
      Ask me anything about Japan if you go and I will try help.

  3. I wouldn’t be able to cope with these organised tours. I couldn’t keep up with riders like this even if I wanted to as I am too inexperienced. Also like you Warren I prefer travelling solo at my own pace. I cannot be doing with the pissing contest thing these days. Maybe the Pakistan tour would be OK as they use slow bikes there so I guess there is a limit to how fast tour members can go. Also as you found with the difference between the Mexico and Colombia tours it is always dependent on who you are riding with.

    Although you had a mixed experience in Mexico and Colombia I would love to go back there as I last visited those countries in the 90s. Your photos reminded me how beautiful they are too. Back then I wasn’t sold on Mexico but thought Colombia was absolutely amazing. However I think I need to see Mexico again.

    I hope you haven’t dumped plans to visit Argentina and Chile. The Southern Cone countries (the two mentioned plus Uruguay) are a different world from the rest of Latin America. They are much more developed, safer and have a temperate climate. The scenery is a bit like the really spectacular parts of North America – superlative. I think of them as a bit like a Spanish speaking version of Australia or Canada!

    • Hi Tim,

      The southern region of South America I am still planning to visit.

      The Pakistan tour was good for pace and sightseeing. The 150cc bikes were slow no matter how much you twisted the throttle so you could sit back and enjoy the magnificent scenery as you rode but also anyone that wanted to take photos simply stopped anywhere then they could easy catch up as speed was never fast.

      Again though the people on that tour were nice and all looked out for each other like on the Mexico tour where we forced the guides to run two groups one for the less experienced riders who were struggling to do the pace needed for the poorly planned routes.

      I must say however that I really liked Colombia the country and if I was living in North America I’d be down there all the time and might even retire to Medellin as well Mexico beach towns were so nice if I was an American then it would be a tempting place to live and make my retirement money go further.

  4. Great trip report Warren. Helps me add another spot to the list of places to visit. Not sure I could do the tour though and would prefer to ride alone or with a couple of friends. On South America, my friend here in Japan is a rider from Paraquay and recommends the ride through Argentina from Buenos Aires to Tierra del Fuego. From my bit of research looks like fun. One also for my list.

    • Hi Gerry,

      Colombia is really easy to ride independent. I was unsure about that hence I chose a tour but now that I have seen I would go solo if I ever visit again.

      I would like to see Tierra del Fuego, I saw in the past a tour that ran in Brazil to there but when Covid came that company folded. I’ll look for some info about riding that route perhaps I could combine that with a visit to southern Patagonia to make the long flight over there again worth it in the future.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *