Riding a bicycle with a brain – Duitama to Palermo

Riding a horse felt a bit like riding a bicycle with a brain.  Let me explain.  Whilst riding my bike over rocky terrain, I have had to constantly pick and choose my way through uneven surfaces.  On the horse I felt I could just urge her in the general direction and trust her to pick the way (although admittedly, it took me a while to relax, trust her and let go of the need to control every move).  Steep gnarly rocky surfaces that couldn’t be ridden on my bike suddenly became a possibility. What an incredibly effective form of transport… for roads too rocky to be ridden by bicycle I mean… (video below)

How did I come to be riding this horse.  Well, like most events on this trip, it was totally unplanned.  It started with a pleasant back road route from Duitama towards Villa de Leyva via Paipa and Palermo.  (I could confidently follow it thanks to velofreedom.com who rode it well over a year ago…)

Having finally understood my desire to avoid heavy goods vehicles and lunatic bus drivers, Reinaldo (my warmshowers host in Duitama) escorted me on a pleasant route to Paipa that avoided the main highway.  We parted company partway up the mostly paved climb out of Paipa; I then followed a fun dirt road descent for some mid-afternoon rain and lunch in Palermo nestled in a pleasant valley between mountains.  The rain didn’t stop so I considered a room in the only ‘hotel’ in town where I happened to be eating.  It came in at the same price as my meal, the bargain price of 6000 pesos (less than US$3).  Although mildly tempted by the extraordinary cheapness, it would have been a long drawn out afternoon trying to relax in the somewhat dirty windowless cell on recommendation I headed up to a house that overlooked the pueblo.  Although the lovely owners had a room that they could rent me for 20000 pesos I opted to camp on their lower floor in an attempt to adhere to my ‘budget’. It also had a great view of the pleasantly positioned little town and I ended up staying an extra day; my hosts looked after me showing me a waterfall and taking me horse riding.  The terrain that beast could handle with me on its back amazed me.  Some video action for you follows:

The trip from Duitama to Palermo:

Exploring Palermo – waterfall, horseriding and crops – prepared to be blown away by my Spanish (ha!):

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The blue line is the route for this section…


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