In february 2020 we received an urgent invitation from our allied production company, WhereNext, to come meet the crew from Bikepacking.com.
Julian, one of our founding members, who is also Head of Video at WhereNext, sat with them to learn more about this surprise visit to Bogota. Besides Bikepacking.com editors and writers Logan, Virginia and Joe, there were Nathalia, Adam and Elliot from Conservation International HQ, ultracycling world-champion Lael Wilcox and filmmaker Rugile Kaladyte.
We were mesmerized by this bikepacking dream-team sitting in the courtyard with us, but as they started telling us why they were in Bogota, we fell in love with this project, called Ruta Chingaza.
Rugile Kaladyte made a wonderful film that explains how this conservation project to raise awareness of our water sources through bikepacking came together, so we won't extend this text unnecessarily, but rather invite you to watch the film and then scroll down for more info about the route :)
Why should you ride this route?
Our favorite elements about this project, besides its origin, are the following:
It takes you to almost all the thermal floors: In the tropics we don't have seasons, but temperature depends on the elevation of each place. On this route, you will visit one of the highest elevation ecosystems, Paramos, and then descend to almost sea level at the Piedemonte llanero.
You will perceive some of the natural and cultural diversity of Colombia: From the urban dynamics of Bogota, a city of 10 million people, to the small rural communities along the way, you will cross departments, eat different types of arepas, hear different accents and see all types of birds and bugs. In about 10 days of riding you will have a wide perception of the natural and cultural landscape of the country.
You will have the opportunity to exchange value with people from places where economic opportunities are scarce, and not a lot of people come visit to create a market around them. We think Rugile makes some beautiful comments about this in this interview about her film.
Tips for the ride
A major caution must be expressed as we are publishing this post on October 2020, and the park entrance for cyclists is still not available. Anyway, we are pretty excited about it AND it is a hard route, so we definitely recommend getting fit and ready for it with enough time. The full details of the route are available at https://bikepacking.com/routes/ruta-chingaza/ , we would, however, add a couple extra recommendations:
Definitely save some time for acclimation. Bogota is over 8.500ft (2.600m) over the sea level, and Chingaza is even higher. Spend a couple of days in the city, maybe even hire one of our cycling advisors for a nice ride + cycling tips around the city.
We rent bikes for bikepacking! which is great so you can avoid possible damages and inconveniences when bringing your own bike. Plus, all our rentals come with free cycling itineraries plus advice, customized to your interests and cycling level. Contact us to prepare your trip :)
If you prefer bringing your own bike, arrange transport from the airport to your hotel or hostel in Bogota previously. You will need a car that can fit your bike boxes, and it can be more expensive and hard to find on the spot. Contact us and we can arrange that for you.
Chingaza is huge and you can get lost. The park administration is reluctant to allow cyclists without a local guide, so contact us and we can arrange the guide for you. We helped with some of these logistics for the Ruta Chingaza scouting trip and for Lael's FKT.
Thinking about signing up for Ruta Chingaza? Contact us for any questions! We will be happy to help :)
We are so grateful to Virginia, Logan, Rue, Lael, Nathalia, Adam, Elliot and Joe, to let us be part of this great initiative, to Gregg from WhereNext for introducing us to them, and to our amazing network of local collaborators who made sure every logistics solution for the crew was succesful. Special thanks to Gabo, our main contact in Guasca, who made sure the scouting trip and the FKT were a complete success.