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From Highway 56 you can see the skyscrapers of Medellín poke out above the clouds while eating a fresh chicken empanada.
This was a view and experience I almost missed because I had a lot of work in the city. Nevertheless, when Jenson from Medellín Sports Rentals called me on my last day in Medellín because their guide Alex had an opening for a motorcycle tour of La Vuelta al Oriente, I knew I’d regret passing it up.
If, like me, you’re ready to hit the road and experience the wilder side of Medellin, keep reading. Here’s what to expect on a motorcycle tour.
I arrived at their office in Barrio Manila in the morning to friendly faces and a quick tutorial video on riding in Medellín. Alex showed up a few minutes later, and I suited up with the gear they provided and went down to get my bike.
After a few refresher laps, we started off.
There was no way around it.
We had to go through at least part of the city. When in Medellín, do as the Paisas do, so we wove between cars and filtered through to the stoplights.
We were on the highway after a few minutes, though, and we climbed up out of the city into the mist of the mountains.
Soon the buildings were behind us, and we came out of the clouds into the village of La Fe, just a few shops at a highway crossroads, where we ate empanadas.
Our next stop was Salto del Tequendamita, a park normally frequented by locals due to the quiet atmosphere and impressive waterfall.
However, because I did the tour on a Monday, we had it all to ourselves to take pictures and appreciate the natural beauty.
From there we rode on to the town of La Ceja for lunch. I guess the empanadas didn’t count. First, we visited the historic town square and church that typify colonial Colombian architecture.
Alex gave me an elaborate historical and cultural lesson that continued through our meal at Santa Clara where I had a true hometown Bandeja Paisa along with Gelatina de Pata and, of course, coffee.
Naturally, Alex gave the culinary history of all this as well.
As full as I’ve ever been, we left La Ceja for Parque Arvi, which Alex told me is mainly used as a Boy Scout camp these days.
There’s also a general park along a stream with more waterfalls and flowers, a prelude to our next stop: Santa Elena. Here we just passed through the town square where Alex explained to me the history and culture of flower cultivation in the area.
I thought that was our last stop. It was the last one planned anyway, but when Alex found out I’d never been to the UVA Ilusión Verde, he made sure we passed by. It offers one of the best views in the city and is a place worth visiting even if you don’t do a motorcycle tour.
Finally, we braved the rush-hour traffic to arrive back at the shop. My legs were tired, but I’d seen more of Medellín and its surroundings than I had in the entire month prior.
A motorcycle tour is a great way to see an extensive part of Medellín and the nearby countryside while having fun on the way. Oh yeah, and it’s really not all that expensive.
If you’d like to schedule a tour, you can do so by phone or by making a booking on the website. Or, of course, you can just walk in. Their office is located just five minutes outside of Poblado at Cra. 43F ##14-45.
Medellín Sports Rentals has three main guided tours:
Additionally, you can take a “you ride, we drive tour” if you don’t know how to operate a motorcycle. You can also call to ask about custom tours.
Of course, if tours aren’t your thing, you can rent a scooter or motorcycle and ride it yourself. Medellín Sports Rentals has a wide range of motorcycles including a cafe racer and off-road bike. Prices vary based on size, but an automatic 150cc scooter starts at COP$125,000 per day, which is about USD$30.
My first recommendation is to ask for Alex as your guide. Of course, if he’s not available, the others are great too.
Here are a couple of other things I’d suggest.
There’s no shame in choosing a scooter. Riding in Medellín is one, hilly, and two, a chaos of lane splitting. Medellín Sports Rentals doesn’t do tours with any bikes over 400cc anyway, and the mountain roads are too windy to go over 45 mph or so. A scooter is plenty.
Take your tour on a weekend. This will ensure you can get the full experience of each stop without running into too many crowds. Plus, the traffic will be easier to handle.
Last but not least, be flexible and open. Based on what I was interested in, Alex gave a lot of recommendations to change our route. They all ended up enriching the experience. Similarly, keep the day open in case you need to lengthen the time of the tour.
Right now, Medellín Sports Rentals is focused on small motorcycles and scooters, ATVs, and jet skis. However, they told me they had plans for expansion this summer.
Not only are they going to get bigger, faster motorcycles, but they want to branch out into the equipment and experiences they offer. This may include shooting, fishing, boating, and cycling.
If any of that sounds like your cup of tea, you should definitely stay tuned!
Whichever ways they decide to go with it, I know that based on my motorcycle tour with Alex, they’ll be unforgettable experiences that introduce you to sides of Medellín and Colombia you wouldn’t have the chance to see otherwise. I’ll keep you posted.
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