Colombia - Medellin to Bogota
Getting there and away
Our cycling holiday starts in Medellin on Saturday. We appreciate that people join redspokes tours from all over the world and no matter what time you arrive at the airport redspokes will transfer you and your luggage to your hotel. Please bear in mind that if you arrive before midday on the trip start date you may have to wait for your room to be made available. If you decide to arrive before this date redspokes can assist you in booking your accommodation and will organise a transfer to your hotel for a charge of £15.
We are unable to include flights as part of the tour due to the Package holidays and Package tours Regulations 1992. If you are flying from the Europe, you should look to get a "multi-destination" flight that arrives into Medellin and leaves from Bogota. Most European flights leave Europe in the morning and arrive in Medellin in the evening.
The holiday ends in Bogotá 14 days later, on a Friday. If you decide to stay in Colombia beyond the last day of the tour redspokes can help you organise extra accommodation and transfers to the airport if needed.
If flying from the UK, AA and Air France appear to be the favoured airlines by our customers. Check out www.kayak.com or www.opodo.co.uk for an idea of times and prices.
You must ensure that are in possession of a full passport with at least 6 months validity from date of your return. You will also need sufficient blank pages for your visa stamps. Citizens from the UK and most other European countries along with Australian, New Zealand, USA and Canadian nationals do not require a visa and will be granted a 90-day entry permit on arrival. However visa requirements are liable to change at short notice, travellers are advised to check their entry requirements with their embassy or consulate.
Insurance and vaccinations
It is a condition of joining our trips that you must be adequately insured. All persons are expected to arrange their own insurance. Polices should cover any potential risks involved in a mountain cycling holiday. We ask for copy of your policy to be sent in with your completed booking form.
Snowcard Insurance Services specialize in all mountain sports holidays including mountain biking. Their policies include emergency medical and repatriation expenses as well as mountain rescue. They are also able to insure personal belongings including equipment as well as travel cover for cancellation, delay and missed departure. Follow the link below to obtain full information and a quote: www.snowcard.co.uk.
Plan ahead for your vaccinations, some of them require more than one injection you should seek medical advice at least six weeks before travel. We recommend vaccinations against typhoid, polio, hepatitis A, and a tetanus injection is essential.
Cycling support and grading
There will be rest stops every 20-35 km depending on the terrain; you will have access to your luggage, and the opportunity to have drinks/snacks. Our leaders carry a good tool kit and will help to fix any bike problems. However, we cannot guarantee that to be equipped for all repairs, so you must ensure that your bike is in good working order before the tour. If in doubt, have it fully serviced by a bike shop before you travel. In particular we suggest looking and adjusting all wheel spokes, greasing all your bearings, checking your brakes/gears cable, tighten all nuts and bolts, check chain, quick release clamps, tires and put in new inner tubes and check wheel rims are not worn. In addition make sure the bike is well serviced and ride it with as much care and attention as possible.
Not all countries of the world have the same transport facilities and regulations as those of the EU, North America and Australasia. In all destinations we ensure that transport meets the standard of local regulations; you must be prepared for this to be of a different standard than that you may be accustomed to.
You should be used to regular aerobic exercise including biking, although you do not need to be an athlete. It pays to spend some time before the trip getting into the best shape possible. This will ensure you get the most from your holiday. We can send you specific training tips on request.
Equipment and bike stuff
The Colombia tour is suitable for mountain bike or cyclo cross bicycles. Please ensure that your bike is in good working order before you leave for the tour. If you are not the most mechanically minded we suggest that you get your bike looked at by a professional bike mechanic. In particular we would suggest looking and adjusting all wheel spokes, greasing all your bearings, checking your brakes/gears cable, tighten all nuts and bolts, check chain, quick release clamps, tires and put in new inner tubes and check wheel rims are not worn. In addition make sure the bike is well serviced and ride it with as much care and attention as possible.
We would also advise the following tools to accompany you on your tour: multi-tool, tyre levers, pump, 2 spare inner tube, spare spokes of the correct length to fit your wheels - check with a bike shop, brake pads, a few spare links for your chain, if applicable, spares for any unique or high-tech items on your bike, e.g. fluid and bleed kit for hydraulic brakes.
Baggage allowances and your bike
Your bike must be carried as a part of your luggage allowance and to this end we do ask you to make every effort to keep your total check-in baggage to an absolute minimum. The baggage allowance for most airlines for an economy-class ticket is 20kg per person; although a degree of flexibility is usually extended to groups and the check in staff may accept up to 26kg per person without imposing excess baggage charges.
Your bike (in its cardboard box) will weigh 15 to 18kg. So, that means you will have a small allowance for clothing etc. You should carry small heavy items in your day pack / pannier which you can take onto the plane as hand luggage.
Your hand luggage is not included as a part of your overall allowance, as it is not weighed. Please inform your airline that you will be taking your bike on the flight, and attempt to make every effort to secure from the airline an additional baggage allowance - but this is not always granted. Although we cannot guarantee that there will not be excess baggage charges, this is something, which very rarely happens.
In terms of clothing this is clearly up to you and we can only supply a rough guide as to what to take. This guide is entirely flexible and should be tailored to your specific needs: sunglasses, lightweight trekking boots/shoes, cycling footwear, lightweight socks (3 pairs), underwear (4 pairs) lightweight trekking shorts, padded cycling shorts (2 pairs), shorts, t-shirts (2), lightweight, long-sleeved shirt, fleece jacket/pullover, biking jacket, waterproof (breathable fabric), fingerless biking gloves, headlamp & spare bulbs/batteries, spare laces, sunglasses, toiletries, basic first aid kit, towel (small), small padlock, 2 large plastic bags (for keeping items dry in your bag), sun cream, lip balm. If you have any questions about this list please feel free to contact us.
What to take
A detailed list of what to bring will be provided on booking. If you are bringing your own bike you must bring spare parts specific to it. First aid: on all our tours the guides carry a medical kit. However you are recommend to bring your own first aid supplies which should include: a broad spectrum anti-biotic, antiseptic cream, throat lozenges, a cold medication, diarrhea treatment, pain killers, plasters, insect repellent and re-hydration salts.
What's included and what's not
All accommodation will be in hotels or guest houses. We choose accommodation on the basis of comfort rather than luxury. Our prices are based on sharing a twin room; single rooms are available at extra cost.
Most of the food is provided on your 13 day tour. We provide 12 breakfasts, 9 lunches and 7 evening meals (see trip notes for details) along with snacks and mineral water during cycling days. All transportation and local guides within Colombia are included. International flights are not included in the tour costs.
Spending money depends on your taste for souvenirs, drinks etc. We estimate that £250 will be more than enough to cover the 13 day tour. You can expect to pay around £3 - £10 for a 3 course meal in a restaurant.
Tipping is an accepted part of everyday life, and although it is always at your discretion, you will be expected to tip to reward service. £25 for the guide and team at the end of the tour is recommended.
75% of the food is included in the trip (see itinerary for details). The Colombian diet is meat based but we will cater for vegetarians. Breakfast is considered an important meal in Colombia and includes fruit juice, coffee or hot chocolate, fruit, eggs and bread. In rural areas Lunch (served between 12 and 4pm is typically the main meal of the day). A traditional Colombian main meal starts with a soup, followed by a main dish, a drink and sometimes a dessert which is generally very sweet. The evening meal is usually lighter. In the big cities the main meal often will be served around 7pm or 8pm. Traditional Colombian dishes include Ajiaco: Chicken soup as well as chicken this dish includes 2 or 3 kinds of potatoes, corn, sour cream, capers, avocado and guasca. Arepa: A basic side to any Colombian meal, arepa is a bread made from cornmeal. Bandeja Paisa: A mixed platter of grilled steak, fried pork rind, chorizo sausages, on a bed of rice and red beans, topped with a fried egg and a side of sliced avocado and sweet banana (chips). Arguably the national dish of Colombia. There is an abundance of fresh fruit on offer in Colombia.
Government Republic; executive branch dominates government
Currency Colombian peso (COP)
Area 1,138,910 km2
Population 45,393,050 (March 2010 est.)
Language Spanish (official), indigenous languages in tribal regions
Religion Roman Catholic 90%
Calling Code +57
Internet TLD .co
Time Zone UTC -5