Road to: Termales del Ruiz

MotoTests trip plans for the years is full of miles to make with six Colombian trips and even one to Peru. We teamed up in their first trip for 2016. 35 bikes headed out at 5:30 am from Medellin making our way into La Pintada where we would make our first stop, to have an amazing breakfast at Doña Rosa.

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35 bikes are not easy to handle, however everyone was on their best behavior.

We took the road to Manizales, going through La Felisa all the way to Letras. There it’s a quick detour to the El Nevade del Ruiz, where the Termales del Rio Hotel is located.

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Desolate roads, but perfect for adventure motorcycles.

Most of the detour is paved road, however the last 7 km. are offroad, heading right into the hotel, though nothing too bad. 240 km. totally for our first day in roughly 5 hours.

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The landscapes are amazing.

We arrived to the Termales Del Ruiz Hotel where we parked our bikes and were greeted by Andrés, the Hotel manager. After the registry and getting our bags into our rooms, Andres gave us a tour of the hotel, telling us it was built in 1.937 but that it was abandoned almost for about 10 years in 2004. 2 years ago the hotel was acquired by Hotel Carretero – the biggest hotel chain in Caldas – who remodeled the hotel and runs it to this day. The hotel has about 20 rooms that can host about 60 people. 12 employees will accommodate your every need. Great service guys, thanks.

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Mosko Moto drybag is amazing as it easily turns into a backpack.

In Termales del Ruiz you get natural hot springs, a thermal pool heated from the Nevado del Ruiz volcano. They’re famous not only for their relaxation properties, but also from their medicinal ones. 65º of hot water in this cold cold weather. Awesome.

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Andres, the hotel manager was very nice it was.

Although the hotel is still under construction adding hot tubs and private villas, which will make this an even greater destination. There’s a big pool for everyone and a couple smaller ones if you are looking for a little more privacy. There are some 3 hot springs specially for couples, and one for about 8 people.

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Looks amazing, feels even better.

Later on we went trekking around the hotel and spotted some humming birds, sorry no pictures, which wouldn’t normally coexist with other species, however because of the height, 3.500 mt. over the sea they can. There are around 20 species which birders often travel just to see.

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The garden naturally integrates the landscape into the hotel.

Both lunch and breakfast were buffet and were included in MotoTests tour package. The food was very good, and again, the service amazing. After dinner the hotel had a surprise for us in the way of a bonfire and saxophone music which played amazing music for quite a while. Good food, good people.

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Great surprise MotoTest, great.

For the remaining of the day was about resting and enjoying the hot springs. We got a good nights rest as the next day we were going to El Nevado del Ruiz almost 4.138 mt. over sea level. 9 am sharp and ready to go we boarded 2 buses that would take us to Brisas, where we would get extra guidance in the information center. There we found out that the volcano was actually in yellow alert, so we would only be able to go to Valle de las Tumbas, located at 4.330 mt. over sea level.

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4.138 mt. above sea level.

In 1.974 the Nevado del Ruiz National park was created around 58.000 acres. It’s altitude goes from 2.600 mt. to 5.321 mt. which commonly causes visitors to get sick cause the lack of oxygen. Sadly though because of global warming it will son be reclassified as paramo.

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Quick briefing before going up the Nevado.

Once we finished our briefing we hopped again into the buses and were taken to Aguacerales, 4.070 mt. above sea level, were we could see the paramos flora, how it absorbes moisture and releases it in the summer. There we continued the tour in the old shelter that burnt down in 2010, after being there for around 50 years.

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No one knows what happened to the old shelter.

Now, in it’s place there’s a new shelter built from Canadian pine wood, which has high resistance to the specific weather here. There is a cafeteria, bathrooms and a balcony where you can look down the mountain.

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So desolate and cold, this places is almost another planet.

Our final destination was the Valle de las Tumbas at 4.330 mt. above sea level. The Valley of the Tombs gets it’s name from the rocky formations that resemble sarcophagus. However this is but a memory, as they have been covered by sand over time.

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Valle de las tumbas – Valley of the tombs.

Oddly enough at this altitude it wasn’t as cold as in Aguacerales, mostly from the sun and closeness to the Volcanos radiation. The guides recommended strong sun block. There was no vegetation, just sand, and lava formed rocks. There, over the canyon, our guide requested that we shout “Cumanday” ,  a word the precolumbine natives used to call the once white mountain. As we shout we felt the acoustic effect replicating the word as if there were hundreds of people shouting.

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Cumanday.

The guide reminded us of the Armero tragedy caused by Nevado del Ruiz, formerly the volcano was known as the sleeping lion, as it showed no signs of any activity and hadn’t erupted in 150 years. In 1.985 it started to show activity, until finally November 13 it violently erupted.

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The locale, the views, the weather, the Nevado is unlike any other.

A night eruption caused most of the ice to melt and rush down with mud and rocks. The result? 20.000 people died and Armero was completely destroyed.

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Before going back to the bus we took the group photo, it’s time to go back to the hotel.

A quick snack was waiting for us in the hotel while we all rush everywhere packing our gear, getting the bikes ready and what not. Crazy. Andres again asked how everything was and if we liked the hotel. Termales del Ruiz didn’t get one complain from us, as it’s service was amazing. Everything was excellent so this wasn’t a “good bye” but a “see you later” kinda situation, as we will return here. Finally the guide commended our decision to stay in the hotel one day before the tour, as the heigh usually sickens people with “Soroche” also known as mountain sickness.

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See you #EnMoto.

Thanks to Master Trip Colombia for the group photo.

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