Sunday, February 12, 2017

Trip to Colombia Winter 2017!

For the past few months Alex and I have been planning a return trip to Colombia.  We've both been there before, and I've been wanting a nice vacation for a while!
Our hammock abode in Minca.

Misty mornings on Agua Panella.
Instead of just doing "Rolda", we decided to mix it up a bit and toss in some coastal exploration as well as some smaller mountain towns.  On the Caribbean coast we visited many towns, including the very nice town of Minca, up in the mountains above Santa Marta, and Cartagena, tourist-central.  It was super-muggy and we very much appreciated any air conditioning we could find as well as the ocean swims.  The highlight of this portion of the trip for me was the snorkelling we did in the Rosario Islands...not as spectacular as Tobago, but nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of the cities and into the bathtub-warm waters!

Ronda was a bit wet this year!...
From the coast it was inland to Roldanillo where the weather wasn't playing ball...it was much wetter than usual, although still plenty flyable every day, so long as you were willing to wait out the rain and/or land when you saw rain coming.  Fortunately the Cauca Valley is wide and open enough that you can see storms coming from a long ways away, and in any case there were minimal gust fronts if they happened at all (especially compared to Golden!).  Lots of flying up and down the west mountain ranges, not so much on the east side since there were airspace issues to contend with.

...But still plenty flyable!
Fortunately you could see the rain from a long ways away!
After the first Rolda comp we relocated to Piedechinche (nearer to Cali) to sample the afternoon side of the valley, and were treated to a rare (?) ride up to 3600m on a blue and stable day.  I suspect this site shades-out quite a bit as it's a big mountain behind launch, and any clouds which form are going to spooge out into the valley in any east wind.  And that's what happened on other days; even though it's an "afternoon site", you can definitely fly it in the mornings, and in fact, it's probably best to fly it earlier rather than later if you want to go XC.

Getting high at Piedechinche!...
...And flying fire thermals!
Travelled north to find some less-busy flying spots, and opted for Apia and Jerico, both small mountain towns with epic roads up steep winding roads glued to the mountainsides!  Both Apia and Jerico were a welcome change from the heat and business of Roldanillo...we were pretty much the only gringos in town each time, and the launches were much less busy, although the tour groups were everywhere (probably doing the same thing as us, finding sites less busy than Rolda).

The Canadian crew in Roldanillo.  Photo courtesy of Kevin Ault.
Jerico and the new launch, opening next year.
If I was doing the trip again and wanted to focus on flying in Colombia, I would probably start with the non-Roldanillo flying sites, and do Rolda at the end.  There are so many sites in Colombia!  Pretty much any mountain in the coffee zone is a candidate...there are paved roads and busses to many of the towns, and plenty of cleared land, that you can fly from almost anywhere!
Back in the land of snow and ice!












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