cyclist Lael Wilcox on Chingaza route in Colombia
Photo credit: Rugile Kaladyte

Watch Lael Wilcox Blaze Colombia’s First Bikepacking Route: Ruta Chingaza

Want to ride 420 km through Colombia on a bike? Now you can.

In early spring, ultra-endurance cyclist Lael Wilcox traveled to Bogotá, Colombia, just before lockdowns. On the trip, Wilcox (along with cyclists Joe Cruz and Logan Watts as well as filmmaker Rugile Kaladyte) helped create a new bikepacking route, connecting Bogotá to its surrounding rural communities and with Chingaza National Park.

In fact, Wilcox’s ride stands as one of Colombia’s first bikepacking routes. And Wilcox took the opportunity to set an FKT on it afterward.

Ruta Chingaza bikepacking route in Colombia
Photo credit: Logan Watts.

“The film showcases this beautiful part of the world while demonstrating the utility, fun, and light impact of ecotourism by bike,” the film’s press release reads. And you can experience it too.

A documentary all about the route goes live today — made in partnership with Conservation International, Wahoo, and Watch the full film below.

Ruta Chingaza: Route Details

The Ruta Chingaza lets cyclists experience a wide range of Colombian life, ecosystems, and areas of historical significance. Bikepackers will get all this while avoiding roads and experiencing local trails on their 4- to 10-day trips.

It’s 420 km, with a hefty 11,000 m of elevation, and is 80% off road (meaning dirt or gravel trails). And some of those trails are pretty burly. As Wilcox noted, this is no route for a light gravel bike with skinny tires. No, you’ll want a hardtail (or something similar) with good suspension and, of course, plenty of bike bags.

“The terrain through Chingaza is otherworldly. Less than 30 miles from Bogotá, you climb into a cloud forest above 10,000 feet. It’s wide open and undeveloped,” Wilcox said. “The landscape is a sponge, the plants capture the humidity, and this is what provides drinking water to the city. It’s like no other place I’ve ever ridden.”

Lael Wilcox riding the Colombia route
Lael Wilcox riding the route; photo credit: Rugile Kaladyte

The centerpiece of the route is the páramos ecosystem, which surrounds Bogotá and provides and regulates the water supply for the city of 8 million people.

Due to COVID-19, Chingaza National Natural Park is currently closed to cyclists, but Conservation International is collaborating with park authorities to make cycling a part of the park’s tourism strategy. They anticipate that cycling (including bikepacking) will be permitted by sometime in 2021.

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Mary Murphy

Mary Murphy is the Managing Editor of GearJunkie and serves as the leader of Lola Digital Media’s DEI Committee.

She has been writing about hiking, running, climbing, camping, skiing, and more for seven years, and has been on staff at GearJunkie since 2019. Prior to that, Mary wrote for 5280 Magazine in Denver while working as an outdoor instructor teaching climbing, kayaking, paddleboarding, and mountain biking at Avid4Adventure. Based in Denver, Colorado, Murphy is an avid hiker, runner, backpacker, skier, yogi, and pack-paddleboarder.