Horror ride, an incredible monument and a volcano
Driving from San Agustín to Pasto
We left the stone sculptures of San Agustin behind us and made our way towards Pasto. Pasto is the capital of the department of Nariño, which borders Ecuador in the south. We planned the route in such a way that we could divide the journey into stages if necessary. Our first stopover was Mocoa. A few months ago, due to heavy rainfall, a landslide took place there. There were many dead people back then. On the basis of the riverbed, one could still imagine the extent of devastation and natural forces.
The trampoline of death
After a short while the road was not paved anymore. The road to Sibundoy took us over a pass called Trampoline of Death. The gradient was enormous and usually cruising with oncoming vehicles was not possible. In addition, trucks always drove on the mountain facing side. The road reminded me more and more of the most dangerous road in the world in Bolivia, about which I had once seen a documentary. Sebastian also hardly made a sound. I think my swift Swiss mountaineering style tugged at his nerves enormously. In addition, he was not happy about the view at all, as it presented the possible and very high drop due to the steepness of the area. The fact that it was raining and had thick fog in between did not make the journey any more bearable. Fortunately, we were in vehicle built for such conditions and could overtake the slower vehicles over again and uphill.
Unlike other road users, however, our vehicle was not equipped with crystal ball navigation. Therefore, I could not overtake before or within turns or generally at zero visibility…
After a climb of 3,500 meters we finally reached the pass. The onward journey was now relaxed, as the speed was throttled due to several convoy-driving vehicles. Overtaking was almost impossible, as even slower vehicles on short straights gave full throttle, so as not to be overtaken and to expose this shame.
Arrived in a shallower area, we took a break in the first village and fortified ourselves with a huge fried chicken. The onward journey remained curvy, but was extremely relaxing after the crossed pass.
Beautiful landscapes and other marvels in the south of Colombia
When we finally arrived in Sibundoy we used the momentum to get to Pasto on the same day. About an hour before Pasto, we passed the Laguna de la Cocha, where we took the opportunity to capture the impressive panorama digitally. The closer we got to Pasto, the slower the traffic became. The general speed was limited to 30km/h, but miraculously everyone seemed to stick to it. It should be mentioned here that the “pastusos”, as the inhabitants are called, have to put up with some national spotlight. For reasons not ingenious, the pastusos are considered the fools throughout the country.
Pasto itself can not exactly be described as a pearl for Colombia tourism and the hotels are mediocre. After 2 hours to the south, however, is the cathedral “Las Lajas”. This was built between 1916 and 1949. The monument, which was built there in the valley, has simply overwhelmed me. I have rarely been able to admire such an imposing structure. The church appears to have been created on the basis of a model by J. R. R. Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings.
After this highlight on our Colombia travel, we thought it could not get any better, but we were wrong. After 2 hours driving we arrived at the volcano Azufral. I’ve never been up or inside a volcano. After a 90-minute walk we reached the Green Lagoon within the crater at around 4,000 meters above sea level and it smelled suspiciously of all sorts of gases. In some places it was steaming and bubbling. However, a local guide told us that we had no reason to worry. Fortunately, this guide even spoke English and immediately landed in our file.
After another 2 hours drive we were back in Pasto. After a long and exhausting day we went to bed very early. I figured I’m in the right place in Colombia, if I did not live here, I would have to go straight to the travel agency and book holidays in Colombia.
Blog Frank Spitzer