Volcano Azufral – Last Few Days in Colombia – Pasto to Ipiales and Tulcan

INTO ECUADOR!! Yes I’ve finally left Colombia.

This is a summary of my final three days of my 180 day Colombian visa and includes my climb up Volcano Azufral (4070metres), a visit to Las Lajas in Ipiales and the famous cementary in Tulcán.  Under a bit of time pressure and after a couple of weeks of late night dancing in Cali (previous post) it felt quite hard!

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Volcán Azufral

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The road down from the top of Azufral, most definitely rideable and looked fun. Don’t leave your bike with the rangers like I did!

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Spanning the valley to the left, you can make out the Lajas Cathedral

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Correct.

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Guinea pig hell. Aka ‘cuy’, they were COP 30,000 (US$11) each. Initially I thought they were taking advantage of the gringo (me) and after a certain amount of commotion I realised they weren’t. Lunch here was a little more expensive than the usual COP 5,000 (US$1.90) almuerzos that I was used to but they were quite tasty. My taxi driver said people were addicted to them and they couldn’t stop eating the poor fellows. I bought it in Ipiales and transported it across the border to Ecuador in the dark; I then ate it in my US$6 hotel room when I arrived in Tulcán.

Route from Pasto (Colombia) to Tulcan (Ecuador) via Volcán Azufral and Ipiales

Route Thoughts for other cyclists:

My back route out of Pasto was a climb and I passed some poor areas at slow speed;  people said it was safe and I had no issues.  It’s possible to stay off the Panamericana until Tangua at which point I found no alternative but to take it for a few kms.  From Pedregal to Tuquerres there was fair bit of climbing on a paved road and fell short of Tuquerres that day by about half an hour although definitely do-able if you don’t mess around (like I did).  The traffic was a little bit grim on the Pedregal to Tuquerres highway but then I’m used to very quiet roads.  After a short paved section out of Tuquerres it’s dirt all the way to the top of Azufral.

It’s possible to cycle to the summit, I left my bicycle with the park officials  since I wanted to hike to the crater and not leave my bicycle unattended.  However, I reckon it would have been ok to hide it in the paramo at the top since there was no one around on that day.  Perhaps on a busy day it would be different.  Taking a different exit down I headed to Cumbal.  I had planned to climb Volcano Cumbal as well but with only a day left on my visa I decided not to do to it to avoid a hideous last day rush (plus it was cloudy), I got a taxi to the lake instead which was of some interest.  Then followed the dirt to Ipiales and checked out Lajas with the remaining few hours I had left in Colombia, eating an unfortunate guinea pig in the process. I crossed the border in the dark and cycled slowly up the hill (15 mins) and then on to Tulcan; which felt fine security-wise even at night (but who knows).  San Francisk was a cheap hotel ($6) near to Ahorra parque and the cementary was closeby and worth a quick visit…


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