In the Colombian Coffee Axis, the most adventurous way to travel is by Jeep Willys! The open air, varying road quality, yet vehicles with the endurance to cover almost any terrain yet slow enough to soak up the beauty of the rural landscapes and tropical mountains.
From one small town to the next, I hunker down on a bench with as many people as can fit, luck out to get a front seat, or revel in the open wind on my face as I stand on the back bumper platform.
The most adventurous way to travel, in Colombia, is by Jeep Willys!
The popular cast-offs of world war two, Jeep Willys have transformed the Colombian transport system. With the arrival of these vehicles, the landscape moved away from mule trains, to small high built, low geared and sturdy over obstacle Jeep Willys.
This is the most adventurous way to travel, but NOT ADVISED for people who suffer chronic neck and back pain. If you are able bodied and have the arm strength, you may even be called upon to stand on the back so an elderly person or mothers with infants can sit.
Come along and learn about some of my favorite Jeep Willy experiences and routes for other intrepid travelers to experience!
How Do Jeep Willys Work?
These are the cars who go where buses and trucks can’t. Terrain has always been one of the greatest challenges to farming in Colombia. In the central/coastal part of the country the Andes Moutains consist of THREE separate corridors and all the successive rambling that comes with it.
Jeep Willys can travel rough terrain because of their short length and low gear ratios which are built standard. These physical characteristics, and the logistics of carrying many people in a small space, are what created the solution to big mountains, deep valleys, rough terrain and unpaved, rain-eroded, roads.
To get into the city centers, or food plazas with their produce, then back out to the farms with their basic necessities people travel by Jeep or Chiva. In the smaller pueblos, jeeps run in two ways.
- Take people out into the country side.
- Take people and goods to another nearby pueblo.
When you travel from one pueblo to another, the Spanish word is “escala,” or steps. So you tell someone “Yo quiero hacer una escala desde Viterbo hasta Manizales en Jeep,” or “I want to do steps from Viterbo to Manizales in Jeep.”
The longest escala I have ever done is Viterbo to a Crossing Point then Risaralda jump to Arauca and arrive in Manizales. They take more time, but it’s a great way to meet the people who live and work in rural Colombia.
The Most Adventurous Way Travel is by Jeep Willys
It isn’t difficult, but you need to be very careful. Jeeps don’t always go where we expect or need them to. On a main artery or highway, you can flag down public transport almost anywhere.
They may charge you up front, or when you get off. A basic understanding of Spanish is essential. You need to know how to explain to the driver which farm, or corrigimiento, that you want to go to.
Corrigimiento, a type of community outside of small towns where economic activities happen.
For example, in Caldas: You can go from Arauca to Risaralda, but not to San Jose or the crossing of San Jose and Belalcazar. Instead, you must take a jeep to Risaralda, then to San Jose, and finally to Viterbo. Or, you can alternatively take a jeep to Risaralda, a taxi to Anserma, then another jeep to Viterbo.
This is only one small area, but you won’t be able to travel in as much as a straight line as you would leaving a regular bus terminal on a bus. This takes you to more places, in an open air car, lonely country roads, beautiful scenery and a lot of adventure.
Part of the adventure is in getting there when you travel by Jeep Willys in Colombia.
The best way to get started on the most adventurous way to travel, is to ask around. This is easier in the small towns versus the cities where people are more likely to leave by bus from the main terminal.
Most pueblos have at least one route that goes to another pueblo. Finding out which one is how you can begin to build your route. At some point you may find yourself waiting on the side of the highway for a bus or taxi to pass in order to connect between two points where NO jeep routes exist.
Don’t take unnecessary risks. In post-COVID Colombia, the economic recession is making itself known, and more highway robberies have been reported. Try to travel by jeep during daylight hours and avoid waiting at lonely crossroads after dark.
If you love the feel of wind on your face, seatbelts forgotten, and a little bit of risk, then the most adventurous way to travel is by Jeep Willys. But, it doesn’t come without the risks.
- Do not stand on the back unless you have the strength and balance to hold on for hours at a time. If you are getting tired, ask for help.
- Risking an accident is not worth proving how tough you are, or just sticking it out until you get there.
- Try to avoid traveling after dark. As they say in Colombia “No Dar Papaya,” or don’t give advantage.
This is a great way to explore farm country in Colombia. Jeeps go to places where birds, exotic flowers and waterfalls are waiting for you to come see them.
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If it was easy it wouldn’t be as special once you arrive, but remember that things happen. Sometimes jeeps don’t leave, they break down, or they go somewhere else. Check and re-check with the driver to ensure you don’t find yourself stranded or in a dangerous situation.
Now that you know the Most Adventurous Way to Travel, we will show you WHERE to travel!!!
Top 20 Colombian Coffee Axis Destinations 2020
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