by Bicycle

Medellin to Ipiales

Medellin to Ipiales is the last chapter of our adventure – cycling and sketching Colombia. Instead of cycle through the main road all the time, we did some detours that lead us to beautiful yet unfamous places such as La Cumbre, Charco del Burro, Lake Azrufal, or Lake Cumbal.

ROUTE DONE IN October - December 2017


1165 km



Difficulty (1-10)


Medellin to Ipiales is the last chapter of our adventure – cycling and sketching Colombia. Before you read this part, make sure you see the first, second, and third chapters to live through our journey in Colombia.

Leaving Medellin

On the day we were leaving Medellin, we are so excited. Happy to be back on the road and feel the weight of our loaded bicycles again.

Once we reach Perreira, we proceed to the west. We didn’t ride through the coffee triangle as we already explore the area when we did the bus loop route. Instead, we made a little detour through Cartago to experience the different ambiance. However, when we reach Roldanillo, we pedaled back to the main road towards Buga.


Buga is famous for the Basílica del Señor de Los Milagros, a pilgrimage site housing a sacred image of Christ said to work miracles. It reminds us of Fátima, Portugal, on a smaller scale. Here, Luís was sketching productively, as there are many captivating churches with fascinating stories.

The fact that the road from Buga until Cali was a boring one, we decided to take another detour towards Darién in Lake Calima – RestrepoLa Cumbre – and eventually, back to the main road again once we reach Cali. In this stretch, we climb again and feel the fresh climate which we prefer to be in.

La Cumbre

We didn’t expect that we will stop for a quite long time in La Cumbre. I thought that stopping for two weeks in Medellin was already long. Here, we stopped for a month to explore the peaks around by a quad motor. It’s the longest stop we did, not only in this route – Medellin to Ipiales – but during our time in Colombia.

There are lots of places around this area that haven’t many people know besides the local. Start from the tea plantation, waterfalls, until never-ending single tracks that lead us to beautiful landscapes.

Before we started to grow stronger roots, we decided to continue our adventure cycling and sketching Colombia. From La Cumbre, we pedal to Cali. As we explored this Salsa Capital, we just stayed a night before we cycled to Santander de Quiluichao.

In Santander de Quiluichao, we stayed with our first host, John. Since Medellin, we tried to connect with other hosts but never happen and we are happy that John is our first experience with this platform. He told us that he would like to explore the world in the future. But as he can’t afford it, for now, he receives people from around the world to hear their stories and wander through them.

On the next day, we continue the journey to the white city, Popayan. Here, we met two local students and they offered to shows us the city. For instance, we tried the typical foods in the best place (read: cheap and tasty), went to the outstanding place to see the cityscape, and clean feeling as the city is painted in white. Hahaha.

Cyclist travelers

From Popayan, we cycle to El Bordo where we met other cyclist travelers. They are Claudio and Mariangel – an Argentinian couple, and Rafael from France. Our host, Boris, suggest us to pedal together until Pasto, due to the harsh environment we will face for the next few days.

It took us 3 days to reach Pasto with stayed a night in Remolino and Chachagui. This moment was our first experience traveling together in a group by bicycle and I think we are lucky to have them. They were patiently waiting for me and teach us that is possible to cook a second breakfast right next to the road! If we were alone, we wouldn’t dare to do it! Although we had to climb more than 1000m altitudes per day with the heat that up to 45°C, we did it with so much fun!

Until now we had many times met cyclist and travel for a while with them. Some are great companions and some are a reminder of what we are traveling for. And one more great couple we met and travel together were Victor and Ali.

Once we arrived in Pasto, we met another couple from Italy and Spain, Victor and Ali. They become our travel buddies until we reach Cotacachi, Ecuador.

To Ipiales

Instead of cycle directly to Ipiales, we made a detour through Tuquerres and Guachucal. We heard about a unique green-colored lake in the summit crater of Azufral volcano. Unfortunately, we couldn’t visit because the locals want to preserve nature. They said that too many tourists came in the past years and the environment was contaminated by them. As much as we were disappointed, we had to respect their intention.

However, we heard that there is another beautiful lake near Guachucal. From there, we took a tricycle to Lake Cumbal. In this place, Luís did a sketch that represents the environment that you can see here.

On the next day, we continue our journey to our last city before we cross the Ecuadorian border, Ipiales. With a sketch of Las Lajas that Luís did, it seems that we are done with Colombia and ready to move on to Ecuador.

In this route – Medellin to Ipiales, it took us 23 days with so many rest days in between.


click on the image to see the sketches of this journey
  • Buga: Basílica del Señor de Los Milagros
  • Cali: Salsa Capital
  • Popayan: The white city
  • A beautiful waterfall near El Bordo: El Charco del Burro
  • Pasto: Surprise city
  • Tuquerres: Lake Azrufal (check first wether is open or not)
  • Guachucal: Lake Cumbal
  • Ipiales: Las Lajas

In this route, the most difficult part was started from El Bordo to Ipiales due to climb into the Andes mountain range. We had to climb more than 1000m altitude almost per day in less than 50 km. The other difficulity was from Restrepo to La Cumbre. As it named, La Cumbre means the peak, which located literally in the peak that has averagely 18% of inclination to go in or out the village.

  • Colombian mostly are friendly. If you don’t have budget to stay in a hotel, just ask politely if you can camp in their property.
  • This route contain long up that can be 1000 meter climb in less than 30 km

Colombia has affordable options to stay overnight. However, we did camp a couple times in this route in the local property. We didn’t want to take a risk to do wild camp in Colombia. And every time we ask to the local, they always allow us to stay overnight. We also stayed with hosts in the south of Colombia.

  • Food and water are easy to find in this route.
  • We didn’t cook since Colombia have good portion in affordable price everywhere.
  • In this route, tap water wasn’t drinkable that we had to buy bottled water which was easy to find too.

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