Transitions, Villa de Leyva to Lake Tota

A friend of mine once told me how much she liked transitions, getting warm after being cold for example. As we crossed from a bumpy dirt road to a paved road heading to Colombia’s Valley of the Sun, I was thinking about her and how much I agreed. Especially because it looked like we didn’t need to be on said dirt road to begin with. The transition from Villa de Leyva to Lake Tota (in the Valley of the Sun) also came to mind. One (Villa de Leyva) is a popular place to visit for Colombians and is becoming more popular for foreigners, while the other seems almost untouched by outsiders (although there has been a clear influx of government money to the area). Both are well worth a visit.

Villa de Leyva


We pitched a tent at Colombian Highlands Hostel. The hostel has great communal space as well as a hike starting at the back of the property to a lookout of Villa de Leyva.


The hostel provided us with a map of ample places to visit in the nearby countryside, so we took a little tour.  The clay house you see in the photos was surprisingly interesting if only for the ancient Italian coffee maker we discovered. The first words out of George’s mouth were, “Should we buy it?”.


As dusk approached, we pulled up to the central square. As luck would have it, four other overlanders would soon follow: Argentina Alaska (in a fiat) and A Million Elephants.


The Valley of the Sun (‘Sugamuxi’)

This is the area around Lago de la Tota (Lake Tota).  Small colonial towns rim the lake.  You’ll also find a white sand Andean beach (Playa Blanca) at 3015 meters which of course we camped on. It’s hard to describe the feeling I had driving through the lush rolling hills around the lake. It looks like just about everything is grown in the fertile soil. If you’re looking for excitement, don’t visit.  If you’re looking for authentic Colombian villages and some high Andean camping, please visit.


Leon Hostels Part II

… I should start by saying that even before this incident we had been extremely cautious about bed bugs.  We never ever leave stuff on the beds and we go in rooms with minimum things.  Everything else stays in the car… 

We had paid to stay for 3 nights at this one party hostel n Leon.  Since it was Semana Santa (Easter week) everything else in town was booked.  The first night it turned out there was a bed bug infestation in our room.  Gross!

That night we had no choice but to sleep in the room.  Both T and I were very, very tired.   The same day we had woken up 5am to cross from El Salvador to Nicaragua (See the “Two border crossings one day” post).  The only solution we could find was to take shifts.  Yes, Nicolas … we did shifts of 3 hours … :).  One of us was on ‘bed bug duty’ whacking the suckers with a toothpaste and the other sleeping.  I won’t give you the number of bedbugs we killed since I hope you will still invite us to your house one day … Oh, and on top of all this suck, I had a classic case of traveler’s diarrhea …  Joy!

Next morning we were spent.  We had vouchers for free coffee at the hostel but we couldn’t wait to GTFO so we gathered all strength and stumbled to a coffee shop on the main square to look for a new place …

A few hours later we had it.  A brand new hostel.  Good ratings, supposed to be super clean, etc. etc. We move in, we washed all cloths, went trough everything that was in the first hostel (did it twice) to make sure things were clean, etc.  All great right … Wrong! The second hostel also had bed bugs!  F*&k!

Ok, there were much, much, much less suckers than the first place but still.  I was so tired that night.  I just said fuck it and crashed in bed.  T however couldn’t sleep at all.  She basically pulled an all-nighter with the toothpaste in hand …

Next morning – volcano climbing and lava boarding (see next post).  T was tired out of her mind.

Next evening we were done changing hostels.  There is no f*&^ing hope!  We just slept in two hammocks in the hostel backyard.

Tonight we are camping!  Unfortunately we have to spend the day disinfecting and looking at everything with magnifying glass….


Grand Teton National Park

We are currently in Grand Teton National Park. We stayed 3 days in Jackson, Wyoming. Teresa wasn’t feeling well so we took a hotel. To be honest I did not fight much since the Fall temperatures finally caught up with us. Our last night in Yellowstone the temperature came down to -14C (7F). This caused the water hoses in the back of the car and the heat exchanger in the front to freeze. So we drove to Jackson, i.e. we drove South and stayed there for 3 nights. A bit of a splurge – TV, showers and a bed. After the third day we decided to go budget again and we move to a hostel in Jackson Village – a small ski resort about 30miles out of Jackson. The hostel is half the price of the hotel and we still have showers and a bed :).

The weather is not much better in Grand Teton vs. Yellowstone. It is sunny and clear during the day going up to 10C/50F and -10C/14F at night. I drained all the water from the car hoping to save the heat exchanger and etc.

We are planning on a 10miles hike tomorrow with a 6200ft vertical change roundtrip. It will be challenging day so we waited an extra day to make sure Teresa is really feeling better. In the meantime Jackson Village is a desert town. The resort is officially being closed today for the offseason (only 2 weeks) so we basically have the place to ourselves. This is a welcomed change from the RV madness of Alaska and the crazy campsites of Banff (780 spots campsites…).