Colombia/cycle ride

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Question
Hello.

My name is Tommy, I am from England.  I am planning a 2 month cycle holiday, starting end of Jan 2013. Cycling from medellin to Cartagena, before sailing onto panama and flying home from costa rica.  I have not yet booked my flights, as I still have some concerns.  i would be very grateful if you would help me with some of these questions.  

Do you think it is safe to cycle on the main road from (highway 25) from medellin to Cartagena on my own? taking 10-14 days.

Is the scenery good?

Will there be budget accommodation along the way in the small towns and on the roadside?

Are there many millatery check points along the way?

Can you reccommend any places to visit along the route?

Do you think i would be better off heading straight to Cartagena and starting my trip there?

Sorry if some of my concers are a little offensive, i do not mean to be insulting in any way.  i hear great things about Colombia but as a tourist who has not been before have some concerns.  

Many kind regards

Tommy

Answer
Tommy,

Wow, what a trip!  Need someone to help you with the luggage?!?! haha

Ok, let's answer these one at a time:

1. Yes, I do think it is safe.  I have taken the same route at least four times by motorcycle, but always getting off at 90 in Sincelejo.  

2. Your ride will be amazingly beautiful, occasionally difficult I assume, and a times a bit chilly until Caucasia.  then it will level out, and may get a bit boring around Sincelejo until Cartagena.  It will definitely get warmer on that leg!

3. I would get to know WHERE the larger towns and cities are along the way if you are looking for accommodations and not camping.  They are few and far between.  What you won't have a hard time finding are new friends, most of which would offer you a bed or the shirt off their back if necessary.  At the least, a bathroom and campsite if you have to stop where there are no hotels.

4.  There will be more military and/or checkpoints on the first half of your trip in Antioquia area due to continued attempts at improving safety in the area.

5.  On bike, I can only recommend stop for everything you see and like!  On a motorcycle I tend to pass things by and wish I had stopped.  These scenery will always provide great photo ops, and you'll find a lot of roadside places to kick back and have a coke/beer/water and make friends.  Don Mathias has AWESOME views and is quite cold!  Santa Rosa de Osos stretches out into rolling farmland as far as the eye can see.  I would spend a night or two in Caucasia to see the town, and DEFINITELY a night or two in Sincelejo to go out and dance with a few drinks!  If you can find more time, go out to Tolu/Covenas and spend a night or two there!  North of this I am not qualified to make recommendations, and Cartagena would take about 5 pages!

6.  ABSOLUTELY NOT!  Way too many people skip Colombia on the N-S or S-N trips to and from Patagonia.  What a mistake!  Colombia will offer you some of the best sights, sounds, new friends and experiences you've ever had!  I would definitely try to find time to enjoy it with the most amount of time available rather than skip or rush it.

No offense taken - I am an American, and I understand that everyone has to have their first time.  History and the news have both trained us to be overly cautious.  With common sense and pre-planning, you should have a good experience!

Best of luck, and let me know how it went!!!

Colombia

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Having lived in Colombia for almost 10 years, I currently live in the U.S. but maintain dual-residency. I am happily married to a Colombian and we have a preteen daughter who we are raising to be bilingual and bicultural. I can answer most questions about Colombia, including those about culture, travel, visas, passports, leisure and safety/security. If I don't know the answer, I'll do my best to point you in the right direction!

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I have professional experience in foreign safety and security. I have personal experience living in Colombia, maintaining residence in Colombia and dealing with visa issues. I stay out of the "tourist crowd", so have developed real knowledge of Colombia and its' people.

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Multiple U.S and European security organizations.

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College-educated, multiple professional certifications in my field.

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