I left Giron by bike on a ‘autobahn’ which was busy, but at least there was enough room for trucks to overtake me without taking out the oncoming traffic or me. This didn’t last for too long and it reverted back to a normal small country road and I soon learned to appreciate my new piece of equipment, my revision mirror….best investment I made! It was a hot sunny day and I was climbing my first pass to than enjoy a wicked downhill into the Chicamocha canyon. Apparently this is the second biggest canyon system in the world, so I’ve been told by a friendly local military guy. It was mid day, I was back at low levels and the heat was excruciating, though I got a ride in a local truck back up the other side of the canyon and saved myself a 1000m climb. I still had to climb further and than had a pleasant ride down to San Gil, the adventure capital of Colombia. Here tourists can enjoy everything from rafting, paragliding to abseiling, but I preferred a bus ride to the colonial village of Barichara, founded in 1741, which is also noted as the most beautiful colonial town of Colombia.
The next day was a short ride to the town of Socorro. Just after breakfast I tried my first ‘leche de capra preparada’ on the side of the road. It’s a shot of Brandy with honey and vitamin granulate, topped up with milk fresh from the goat. Great way to start the day! Food is an important part of life here and in the towns every second house is a shop, while along the road people sell local specialities. Socorro is a nice place to hang out for the day with some colonial influence and without the busyness of San Gil. The next day brought many ups and downs on the road and the sun was beating down. I took to leaving about 7am so I can stop and look for a hotel by about mid day. I stayed in the country town Vado Real and managed to find a lovely family run hotel, Hotel Parque Vado Real. The family was very nice and interesting to chat to, well educated and the hotel was clean, had fast wifi, TV and all the comforts needed by a traveller. From there it was one more day to Villa Leiva, colonial town founded in 1572 and declared a national Monument. It has one of the largest plazas of the Americas, is surrounded by cobbled streets and has a charming peaceful atmosphere. Time for a couple of days rest! I stayed in the austrian-colombian owned family hostel Casa Viena which was a home away from home. I arrived on a Sunday and the plaza in town was transformed into one big bar, with lots of day visitors from close by Bogota. Colombians take pride in their looks and everyone was wearing their best attire. It was quite fun watching the ladies navigate the cobbled street in their high heels.