Definitely Off the Beaten Track – Puerto Berrio, Colombia


Route San Gil, Colombia – Puerto Berrio, Colombia (45A,66,45,62)
Distance 348Km
Travel Time 8 hours
Road Conditions Mostly good tarmac, bad around
Weather Overcast, warm
Terrain Mountainous to lush river plains
Food and Petrol Bucarramanga, Barrancabermeja
Accommodation Hotel Nuevo Magdalena, Puerto Berrio


Our next destination is Medellin. It’s going to be a long ride. We exit towards Buccarramanga again and head west from there. The road is mostly in a good state of repair, except a few kilometres through be oil/gas-country, with pipelines and silos all over. The locals, together with our compass, confirm we’re heading in the right direction.



It’s very hot and humid and mountainous. I picked up another knee infection a few days ago, and the constant pressure of the knee pads on the wound, along with the sweat, are causing me grief. Just have to grit the teeth.


Later we realize that Medellin is not on the cards for us today unless we want to ride 3 hours into the night, so we keep a look out for accommodation. We follow a long, almost straight road which runs out between beautiful, lush hills of red earth and tropical forest. It looks so good and smooth that opening the throttle comes involuntarily, but the buzz is soon sobered after the second nasty pothole.


Accommodation seems nonexistent, until we reach a small village poking through the trees at the road side called Puerto Araujo. There is a restaurant and a one or two guest houses. We speak to a few people hanging about the area, including the police station nearby, to find out about the local safety situation. The place is probably alright, but we don’t have a good feeling and move on to the next town.

At sunset we pull into Puerto Berrio, just over the Magdalena river bridge. This is the 5th time we’re crossing the Magdalena (thrice at Barranquilla, once at Mompox and now here). We drive around for about an checking out hotels. There are plenty, but they are all quite expensive.



We find one along the strip running next to the Magdalena river, the port just on the other side. Hotel Nuevo Magdalena (25000COP/dbl) has basic clean rooms, 24h reception, though no internet nor bike parking, but since the owner also owns the hardware shop next door he lets us park the bike securely there once they close shop at 6PM.


The town looks somewhat seedy and we’re a bit concerned that we’re in an unsafe place, but soon feel quite at ease with the friendly assistance of the hotel staff and reassurance from other locals.

At night the town is buzzing with activity. Plenty of cafeterias serving food, shops and market stalls selling all sorts and many bars playing loud music into the night. People look stunned to see us but look friendly and unthreatening. We walk down one main street past what seems to be a number of brothels which don’t inspire much confidence, but as for the rest of the town, the atmosphere is safe and pleasant.


We stop for a sundowner at a bar near the river and retire for much needed rest.


On the way out the next morning, we discover that throughout the town there are lots of shady little nooks and crannies where people gather to eat and drink and talk, whilst cooling off from the intense sunshine. It’s a buzzing place, and we love the vibe. Apparently a bit off the tourist map, but we’re glad we happened to see it!


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