There is a road in the south of Colombia between the amazonian town of Mocoa and Pasto known to locals as the Trampoline of Death, or Trampolín de la Muerte. Most of the road is a single lane dirt track with some parts dropping straight down 1,000 feet with no railings. The road traverses through the cloud forests around 10,000 feet for most of the way. When not watching for a river crossing, or some crazed bus driver to come flying around a blind corner the views are pretty incredible. The road is called the trampoline because it effectively feels like a trampoline as your teeth rattle around from the terrible conditions. (below is the video shot from my helmet)
The first 15km or so out of Mocoa were nicely paved, we thought we were in luck and then it turned to dirt, and things only went down hill from there. Turns out waterfalls aren’t as fun when you have to drive through them as they cross the road. As we went higher the temp started to drop as well. Thankfully the day we went the traffic wasn’t too bad, but there were still a couple of times on this single lane road when trucks and buses would whip around corners without a care who was on the other side. Luckily for us every time this happened we were not on the side of the road that drops off the cliff so we could just press up against the wall while they squeezed by. Obviously this was a dangerous road on motorcycles, but I couldn’t even imagine attempting this in a car. I guess that’s why the death part is in with the trampoline part. Not to mention the constant crosses that line the side of the road.
Driving all day the first day we made it all of 34km. We stopped in the little mountain town of San Francisco and managed to find the one deserted hotel towards the back of the town just before the rain started.
The next day we weren’t so lucky with the weather as the mud and rain caught up with us. Thankfully, the trampoline part was pretty much over, just not the death part really as the mud made the steep drop offs even more threatening. After some never ending construction zones the road finally opened up to some decent pavement and appearance of sanity in the last 25km or so. We rolled into Pasto, wet, cold, and slightly bruised, but ultimately intact. I think one of the tricks to traveling well is knowing when to splurge, and that first night we stayed at the fancy hotel in Pasto called the Loft, mainly because they had a steam room and sauna which we fully capitalized on. Not to mention we had a king bed, with pillows that didn’t smell of mildew, and real fluffy covers on the bed! And, even hot water! Basically I will never look down on a Holiday Inn Express ever again.