Adventures in Bikepacking: Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru (Video)

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Back in 2018, Jeff Trudel and his partner Olivia spent six months bikepacking through Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, using a handful of our routes to sketch together an outline for their trip. Find a short video and a gallery of photos from their journey through the Andes here…

Words and photos by Jeff Trudel

When Olivia and I met back in 2015, we had one thing in common: bikes. I had spent a couple of months touring Vietnam in 2014, and they spent time volunteering at our local university’s student-run community bike shop. We had always talked about doing a bike expedition together, and in December 2018, the pieces fell into place.

  • Bikepacking South America, Jeff Trudel
  • Bikepacking South America, Jeff Trudel

We did a 10-day trip in the Canadian Rockies earlier that summer, riding portions of the Great Divide and BC Trail from Canmore, Alberta, to Castlegar, British Columbia. We felt this would be a good test of our abilities for South America, but nothing could prepare us for the daily onslaught the Andes would dish up.

  • Bikepacking South America, Jeff Trudel
  • Bikepacking South America, Jeff Trudel

When we left Bogotá, we took our first pedal strokes alongside thousands of fellow cyclists. It was Sunday, during Bogotá’s Ciclovía, an incredible sight. Eventually, we turned east to climb up and over our first mountain pass and our first real test. We were up to the challenge, but Olivia’s bike had other ideas.

After a few days of riding fully loaded bikes, we both realized we were carrying too much stuff. It took us six days to cycle 190 kilometers on rough backcountry roads. We tackled some serious elevation and crested 3,000 meters three times in two days, learning that there are no flat roads in Colombia. You go up, you go down, you adjust your brakes, then you go up again. All part of the adventure, something you really can’t fathom until you try to do it yourself.

We spent three months in Colombia, loading our bikes onto the bus when the heat became too much to bear, heading deeper into the mountains. Eventually, we crossed into Ecuador with the opportunity to ride the dirt road version of the Trans Ecuador Mountain Bike Route (TEMBR). I won’t ever forget that first day south of Tulcán. The landscape and vegetation were something genuinely otherworldly.

Over cobblestones and through mud, we wound our way south through the backbone of Ecuador. Every day posed a new challenge. Every day was exhilarating.

  • Bikepacking South America, Jeff Trudel
  • Bikepacking South America, Jeff Trudel
  • Bikepacking South America, Jeff Trudel
  • Bikepacking South America, Jeff Trudel
  • Bikepacking South America, Jeff Trudel

Six months in, we crossed into Peru. We only got a glimpse of this place, so very different from Ecuador. Then, we got news of a family emergency occurring back home, and we knew it was time for us to go. We are forever grateful to the land and the people who welcomed us with open arms. One day we will return to experience more of Peru and the unbelievable experiences the Andes provide for traveling cyclists each and every day.

Jeff Trudel

About Jeff Trudel

Originally from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Jeff Trudel started his love affair with bicycle touring when he criss-crossed Vietnam. Since then, Jeff has cycled through Oregon, British Columbia, Alberta, and South America, connecting with people and the land in the way that makes bikepacking such a special way to travel. He now calls Vancouver, BC, home.

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