In January 2020, a team of five USA based bikepackers joined with Conservation International and local Bogotá riders to create a sustainability-oriented set of resources for bicycle tourism in the Colombian paramos. Paramos are alpine ecosystems that exist above treeline but below the perennial snow line, and therefore represent a uniquely biodiverse and sensitive landscape. They are both fragile and crucial: agricultural encroachment has narrowed their boundaries even while they provide fresh water to nearby cities and towns.
Protecting and conserving the paramos is a persistent challenge. This project hopes to harness the deep and longstanding cycling culture of Colombia to highlight the need to look after these lands. Aimed equally at Colombian local cyclists and visiting tourists, a set of bikepacking routes set on existing tracks with sustainable camping possibilities will emphasize that prosperity and conservation need not be at odds.
In 2016, the Colombian Supreme Court ruled against a legal loophole that allowed gas and oil drilling and mining in the paramos. It was hailed as a major victory for environmental groups.
THE PARAMOS ARE NOT VALUABLE SOLELY BECAUSE THEY ENABLE THE COMMUNITIES THAT DRINK THEIR WATER. THEY’RE BEAUTIFUL IN THEIR OWN RIGHT, EXPRESSING GLORIOUS ADAPTATION AND THE PERSISTENCE OF LIFE.
The team follows old trails through the Colombian highlands, taking care to consider the impact of bringing other bikepackers through these regions.
Steep pitches, chunky descents, misting hilltops.
Several bikepacking routes linking to Bogotá with maps, advice, and must-known will be available later this year on bikepacking.com and through Conservational International both in Colombia and the USA. Also keep an eye out for a film by Rue Kaladyte.