June 21, 2006 GMT
Road to Bucaramanga

I am on my way north to Santa Marta, port of call for sixteenth century pirates of the Caribbean. Catedral de Sal comes after 40 minutes on the Pan Americana. I am barely out of Bogotá.

In 1954 the miners at Zipaquira invited a priest to bless a little alcove altar they had built in their salt mine. The holy man was pleased to come. After the service, at a couple of hundred metres below ground, he suggested his fellow Columbians could copy an idea existing in a Polish salt mine. In that mine the workers had built an underground cathedral after the salt was removed. The Columbian miners agreed and set about building the Catedral de Sal.

They dedicated their new subtierra structure to Nuestra Señora del Rosario, patron saint of miners. After nearly 40 years the old cathedral was in such a state of deterioration a new cathedral was built. Opened in December 1995 the new salt church has 14 Stations of the Cross. We pass most of them on our guided tour to the Nave. The workmanship clearly demonstrates to me the continuing faith Columbianos have in the Catholic religion.

The image below overlooks the Nave in the main Catedral de Sal. Located some 180 meters below ground, the cathedral has salt columns three meters in diameter supporting an arched ceiling 80 meters overhead. The cross, ingraved 80 cms into the wall, is backlit. From the back of the room, some 150 meters away, the cross seems to float eerily in space.


I decide to see more of the eastern spine of mountains known as the Cordillera Oriental (eastern cordillera). With peaks in the 5000m range, I know the road to Bucaramanga, my midpoint, will be twisty but highly scenic.


True to prediction, the two lane pista follows every contour and ridge line. The vistas are superb. Combined with the twists and turns, this is a motorcyclist's wet dream come true. It takes me all day to make the 285 kilometer leg.


Columbia's highways are generally in very good condition. Just good enough that Katie and I can hum along at 30 to 60 km an hour and trust the pavement on the corners.


We could go faster but mucho camion tràfico and the occasional wide-load donkey/horse/campesino (farmer) sharing my lane keep life interesting.


Flat tires are probably THE most common breakdown and road hazard. Trucks routinely run on bald tires. I know because I follow so many waiting for a chance to pass that I've started doing an informal study. And we know things don't go well when a vehicle loses control because of poor tires....

camion_llanta_ desinflada17.JPG

What caused this rollover I don't know and didn't ask but the dust had hardly settled when I came around (another) blind tight corner to find this scene. Actually, it's a wonder I don't see this kind of excitement more often.


Posted by Murray Castle at June 21, 2006 06:22 PM GMT

HU DVD Summer Special!

Now that summer is here, get On the Road! Take 30% off the Achievable Dream - On the Road! 2-DVD set until August 31 only. Get On the Road! Learn the tips to staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure!

Our veteran travellers share their tips (and great stories) for staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure.

"A fantastic, informative and inspirational DVD."

"It's brilliant - thank you very much!"

Check it out at the HU Store! Remember to use Coupon Code 'ONTHEROAD' on your order when you checkout.

Renedian Adventures

Renedian Adventures

What others say about HU...

"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada

"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia

"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders

contest pic

10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!

NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!

HU 2014 T-shirts now in!

Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!

What turns you on to motorcycle travel?

Global Rescue, WORLDwide evacuation services for EVERYONE

Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!

New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.

Books & DVDs


All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.

Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!

Story and photos copyright ©

Sorry, you need a Javascript enabled browser to get the email address and dates. You can contact Horizons Unlimited at the link below. Please be sure to tell us WHICH blog writer you wish to contact.

All Rights Reserved.

Contact the author:

Editors note: We accept no responsibility for any of the above information in any way whatsoever. You are reminded to do your own research. Any commentary is strictly a personal opinion of the person supplying the information and is not to be construed as an endorsement of any kind.

Hosted by: Horizons Unlimited, the motorcycle travellers' website!
You can have your story here too - click for details!