Bike Trip: Volcano and Hot Spring Loop 

May 2021 - Erik Rupert

Biking in the countryside, the best alternative

Since I got hit by the travel virus in 1997 planning new holidays and experiences abroad has been part of my life. Even more when I started the Travel company DE UNA with Thomas. Due to the Corona Virus this ended abruptly… Instead of planning new holidays and experiences abroad we had to cancel our personal planned trips as well as the holidays of our clients…. Instead of traveling around, getting to know new places we had to stay indoors… Instead of hiring new persons we had to let people go…..

Colombia had an aggressive strategy with one of the longest lockdowns in the world but I was lucky to live on a farm and therefore I wasn’t really locked up like a lot of people. We could freely move around the house on our farm. In my freetime I reactivated my vegetable garden that was filled with weed which helped with the feeling of being outdoors.

When the restrictions allowed I started to get on the bike again, like many others. As I live in the mountains in the countryside it is easy for me to enjoy the unpaved countryside roads where hardly anybody transit and therefore safe. Before the pandemic I was already spending 1 day in the week on my bike exploring the countryside of Quindio (the department where I live) and with DE UNA we were also focussing more and more on bike trips but we were always too busy to do more with it. Now with the pandemic our daily activities changed a lot and I decided to start training for a long bike trip around the Los Nevados National Park, one of the trips I had in mind for several years. 

I started investigating the route, the length, the difficulty, places to see, where to stay, etc and contacted Pablo, who I met in 2004 during a 7 day hike in the Cocuy National Park to join me. After good training, a good preparation and some delays we did the 521km loop in 10 days in the beginning of February. Even though I had been to most of the places on the route, the experience to do it on a bike, to travel from one place to the next with just the bike and the luggage and the amazing landscape made it an epic trip. I was enjoying every moment of it and I won’t mind doing the loop again. 

The route:  

Day  Route km climbing

1 Circasia - Salento - Toche 63km 2.217m

2 Toche - Machin - Tapias 38km 1.400m

2 Tapias - Ibagué (pick up truck) 37km 638m

3 Ibagué - China Alta - Lisboa 52km 1.820m

4 Lisboa - Anzoateguí - Santa Isabel 40km 1.407m

5 Santa Isabel - Murillo 56km 3.056m

6 Murillo - La Cabaña Hot Spring (by car) 15km 590m

6 La Cabaña Hot Springs & Colored waterfall (on foot) 8km 368m

6 La Cabaña Hot Spring - Paramo Murillo 11km 479m

7 Paramo Murillo - Villamaria 55km 610m

7 Villamaria - Nido del Condor 22km 733m

8 Nido del Condor - Paramo Santa Rosa 20km 1.326m

9 Paramo Santa Rosa - Santa Rosa de Cabal 56km 1.205m

10 Santa Rosa - La Florida - Circasia 56km 1.609m

Total: 529km -17.458m climbing

By bike: 469km 15.862m climbing

Day 1 & 2: Circasia - Salento - Toche - Ibagué

From my place we started the trip with a long climb followed by a long descend to Ibague. The descend to Toche passing through the Wax Palm Tree landscapes was magical. Biking inside the Machin Volcano was special as well.

Day 3 - 5: Ibagué - Lisboa - Anzoategui - Santa Isabel - Murillo

The climb from Ibague to China Alta wasn't an easy one but the views where impressive. Especially around coffee landscape China Alta. Between Santa Isabel and Murillo we had to cross the steep Recio cañon which was a real challenge.

Day 6 & 7: Murillo - Villamaria - Nido del Condor

The Paramo between Murillo and the northern Los Nevados entrance was the most spectacular part of the trip. In January 2020 I accompanied (by car) a biking group this specific part of the trip and decided that I had to go back and do the route myself by bike. I planned to sleep in the paramo as you have the best change for great views in the early morning. We had the best sunrise and an amazing 2 hours clear skies before the clouds hit us. What a ride!

Day 8 - 10: Nido del Condor - Paramo Santa Rosa - La Florida - Circasia

During the second climb to the paramo at 4.000m we weren't as lucky with the weather as a few days before but still were ablo to see some snowy peaks. In the forest we passed through we could hear the hawler monkeys.

Next trips

Now back at home I have new travel ideas. In the coming months I hope to do a new bike trip of several days, go with the family to the jungle of Vaupes and maybe even climb the Huila mountain. Even though the covid has changed the travel tourism, it is still possible to travel, explore new places and enjoy Colombia!

Bike trips with DE UNA Colombia Tours

This trip was a personal interest trip as well as an exploration trip. As it is a loop you can start basically anywhere on the route and if you don't want to do the full loop you can choose a specific part of the loop. If interested to do (part of) the Volcano and Hot Spring Loop, just send us an email ( Besides this loop we offer bike trips all over Colombia and you can also combine several destinations.

Volcanoes & Hot Springs

The circuit is all the time inseparably connected with the volcanoes in the area, although they are not always easy to see. 

1 Cerro Machín - 2,750m

2 Cerro Bravo - 3,985m

3 Paramillo de Santa Rosa - 4,600m

4 Paramillo del Quindío - 4,760m

5 Paramillo the Swan - 4,800m

6 Nevado de Santa Isabel - 4,965m

7 Nevado del Tolima - 5,216m

8 Nevado del Ruiz - 5,321m

Because of the proximidity of the volcanoes there are at least 17 hot springs on route (or very closeby) to enjoy. Some are just a hole in the ground and others include all kind of services and lodging. When you do (part of) the route it is mandatory to visit at least one and enjoy it.