It took us a few days to say our farewells to Colombia. We knew it was time make a push for the border, but in typical brown bus fashion we didn’t take the most direct route.
After our usual morning ritual (breakfast, coffee, drop the top and repack the van) we headed up to the archeological park at San Agustín to check out the ancient stone statues. The park is massive and covers a few different areas where burial sites, statues and carved bathing pools have been uncovered. The highlight for us was meandering through the Bosque de las Estatuas (Forest of Statues). The jungle here was alive with birds and wildlife and all sorts of crazy plants and flowers. We were the only people there.
The number of different carvings found in this area is incredible, within the forest walk alone there was about 40 of them. Most of the statues here had been moved around over the years and have now been randomly situated throughout the jungle with a winding foot path connecting them.
We spent that afternoon in Mocoa, hiding from the torrential rain and resting up to prepare for our next big day of driving. We had to cross back through the Andes to get to the border.
The Mocoa-Sibundoy Road is kind of renowned for being difficult and hazardous. It has even been nicknamed El trampolin de la muerte (Trampoline of death). The dirt road switchbacks up and down through thick jungle and clings to the sides of mountains. Many times we had to cross through creeks that rushed over the road and disappeared over the edge. In some spots it’s only wide enough for one vehicle with a sheer drop on the other side, so we had to reverse up to a wider spot to let trucks through. But, the views were pretty nice when we were able to snatch a glance.
All in all, the road was in pretty good condition and guard rails were in place for most of the drive so we didn’t feel like we were going to fall of the edge. Maybe this route is no longer worthy of it’s dire nickname, or perhaps we just caught it on a good day.
After about three and half hours of winding rocky roads it felt good to be on the tarmac again. Finally emerging from the Sibundoy Valley we cruised down to Laguna de La Cocha.
There is a little village here with houses that line both sides of the river as it leads into the lake. Everyone was super friendly and it seems like they are all competing to make their houses and boats the prettiest. We couldn’t pick a winner.
Trout is the local specialty here and almost every house or restaurant is selling it. We took a stroll to the lake and chatted to a local fisherman for a while, he had some tips but none of them helped us to catch any fish. Nevermind though, we found a hotel that served delicious trout dinners and let us stay in the carpark for the night. It felt to good to have a little date night with a nice dinner and a crackling open fire.
We just had one last stop on our run to the border to check out the church at Las Lajas. The ‘miracle painting’ displayed on the rocks inside didn’t convince this skeptic, but each to their own. The church itself, which spans a deep canyon, is really impressive.
We’ve had such an amazing time in this country. It has definitely surpassed all of our expectations.
Adios Colombia, it’s been great.
Posted from: Puerto Lopez, Ecuador