Bogotá to San Agustin
Maps: The Mapa de Ruta series covers much of the country, and although initially confusing to those who like north to be at the top of the page, they cover all the small roads we took. These are available in a spiral bound book or individually. We also bought a couple of Departmental (Colombia is divided up into administrative departments) Topographical Maps (Huila particularly is useful) from the Geographical Institute in Bogotá. Some of these are available in the ‘Panamericana’ shops in Bogotá too.
Route: Out of Bogotá via La Mesa. Off highway at Taicoma towards Ricuarte via Agua de Dios (mostly paved with occasional dirt). Brief stretch of highway towards Bogotá to get onto dirt road to Suarez. On via Prado, Natagaima vehicle ferry, San Alfonso, La Victoria and Villa Vieja. Side-trip to El Desierto de Tatacoa. On past Neiva to Yaguara. Up to Iquira, Picarní, Tesalia, La Plata, La Argentina, San Roque, Oporapa, Salado Blanco, La Laguna, El Salton de Bordones, Isnos, Idolos, El Palmar, Obanda and San Agustin.
Food/Water freely available. Shops in all marked towns and often in between. Comida Corriente (set meal of the day) at most non-city restaurents very economical.
San Agustin to Pasto
Route. San Agustin – Pitalito (turn-off out of town on SA side) – 30km flat, then climb, before 100km descent via a few settlements and the occassional shop – Mocoa – San Francisco – Sidundoy – Santiago – Pasto.
Climb from Mocoa (distances from M). 35km to 1st pass, down, then up to 69km. After 15-20km, all on mildy rock single-lane road. Descend into Vallé de Sidundoy, then up again (tarmac initially) from Santiago, then down to Laguna del Coches, then final 8km ascent before down into Pasto.
Food. Limited, but possible with small tiendas on road to Mocoa. Mocoa to San Francisco – very limited. A few snack stalls after c.30km, and 2-3 comedors thereafter. Water unlimited!
Bike shops: BikeTech (http://biketechmtb.com/) are a very friendly, well equipped shop. We stopped off to check Sarah’s bottom bracket, and within 30 minutes it was replaced. And we’d found some other bits and pieces we’d not been able to find in Bogota. They even gave Sarah a slightly used Giro helmet when they discovered that she’d not had one since it was stolen in Costa Rica.
Pasto to Ipiales and border
Pasto – Ipiales. Panamericana. 15km climb. 25km descent. rest mixture of undulations and climb.