Bike Touring Colombia – Mocoa to Pasto via Trampolin del Muerte
The route from Mocoa to Pasto was one of my most anticipated routes. Unlike some of our other adventure routes, we knew a lot more about this connection because other people had motorcycled, driven, and biked it – and documented their experiences online.
These two guys wanted to avoid the big hills of Trampolin del Muerte, and would instead take a warmer, low land route into Ecuador.
Fin del Mundo Waterfall
Before we rode across the Trampolin del Muerte, we wanted to make sure we saw everything near the city of Mocoa… So, what’s the best thing to see near Mocoa? The Fin del Mundo Waterfall! This waterfall is found on a hike that begins here: (01.09510° N 76.63047° W). Those coordinates take you to a place where you can park your bike (or car), and cross a bridge to begin hiking on a trail to the falls. Some people write that you can start hiking from the “Casa del Rio” hostel, but the distance on road is unrealistic unless you have a bicycle. You may have seen pictures of these falls, but no picture has ever come close to the sensation you get when standing at the top. Sometimes, pictures are better than real life, but in this case, every picture you’ve ever seen is worse than real life.
We decided to take our bike along the trail. The trail from the waypoints given above is a long climb, followed by a short descent that takes you to a series of falls. After nearly a mile, you come to a place where you pay your entry fee (2,500 COP per person (less than $1.00 USD)). We decided to leave our bike here; it was hard work to get the bike this far in, but it felt much safer leaving it here. They ask if you want to pay for rescue insurance here, but it is optional. They give you a little talk, show you some pictures, and send you off, telling you to be careful.
If you get there early enough, you will also have time to visit “Ojo de Dios.” They want you to use a guide to visit this fall because it is considered to be a sacred location. Sometimes, I scoff at hiring guides for locations you could easily find and visit with a little intuition and research – but this seems to be a valid reason to hire a guide.
Trampolin del Muerte
If you’ve studied anything about cycling roads in South America, you’ve probably heard of Bolivia’s “death road.” The road is named this because of the high number of deaths that occur from vehicles falling off the road. Per mile, I think that Bolivia’s road is the “winner.” Colombia has a similar road named “Trampolin del Muerte.” In fact, it’s a better name than just “death road.”
For cyclists who love climbing, and don’t mind mud and river crossings, it’s a destination in itself. Having done it, I’d rank the route as the top 5 most amazing routes I’ve ever cycled. It’s like a very long, beautiful mountain bike trail, but with some cars. Also, it’s far less dangerous for cycling than it is for driving. Below, I’ve grabbed one of the many YouTube videos of people driving along the road, which as you can imagine is much more nerve wracking:
There aren’t many services along the route; most people cycle this section in 2-3 days, camping along the way. Janet and I did it in one, very long day, which allowed us to get a nice shower at the end. I’ve detailed the locations of all of the available services in the captions below:
Pavement begins at San Francisco, and continues all the way West to Pasto. The riding from San Francisco is not as beautiful, but welcomingly easy after the Trampolin! There are some hot springs located in the nearby town of Colon if you believe you deserve a treat after such a difficult route.
The one last tourist attraction is Laguna de la Cocha. There are two roads that take you near the shores of the lake (see our map below). We did not go to the island, but you can. Also, there are a number of places to lodge within a short ride from here: (01.13990° N 77.14182° W). Prices range from 15,000 COP per person at Hostal Quechua to 35,000 COP pp further down the road to “too expensive to ask” on the lake shore.