“Bring an extra set of clothes,” he said, “so we can enjoy the mud.”
I couldn’t help but grin, my heart racing in anticipation. We agreed on a 1pm pickup time Sunday afternoon–that would surely give us enough time to recover from Saturday night’s debauchery.
Two days later and less than 24 hours after arriving back in Medellín from our lazy week in Guatapé, Jeremy and I were off once again, this time for a quick day trip to the hills of Guarne, another small town located just 45 minutes east of the city. Only this time, there would be no relaxing–rather, we’d be racing through the countryside atop monster ATVs with Medellin Adventure Trails, chasing the adrenaline rush we’d been too sluggish to pursue in Guatapé.
Right on schedule, our guide, Juan Felipe, rolled up to our hostel ready to whisk us away. For our part, we gave a pretty valiant attempt at resembling functional human beings. We downed as much coffee as we could, threw together a bag of extra clothes, even remembered to put on sunscreen! Unfortunately, we failed to give ourselves enough time to eat, but Juan Felipe was kind enough to make a pit stop for food before hitting the road. The tour would last more than three hours, so for two people known to go from zero to hangry in no time flat, eating beforehand was non-negotiable.
Our food stop caused only a minor delay, and before we knew it we were parking next to the three biggest ATVs I’d ever laid eyes on. I doubted briefly whether my tiny frame would even fit comfortably on such a beast, but I was quickly reassured. “They’re very easy to drive.”
Before that day, I’d had only one other experience riding ATVs, in the Paracas National Reserve in Peru. Though the ATVs we rode that day were roughly half the size of the ones we were now looking at, they had proven quite difficult to maneuver. Much to my pleasant surprise, these ATVs were, in fact, ridiculously easy to handle.
We were outfitted with helmets and gloves in order to look like real badasses (not for safety, or anything), and not long after 2pm we were headed for the trail. We were now accompanied by another guide, and with only three vehicles in working condition, we found ourselves sharing one ATV for the first part of the drive.
Side note: Being the idiot that I am, I failed to properly charge my camera battery prior to this outing. As a result, all photos appearing in this post are courtesy of Jeremy (or, as you may better know him, travelFREAK) and edited by me.
We careened along dusty back country roads, taking in the beautiful scenery all around us. Since Jeremy was the first one to drive, the guides had no problem putting the pedal to the metal (or the thumb to the accelerator, as it were). There had been no rain to speak of in recent days, so rather than the mud we’d been promised, we were met with facefuls of red dust. I was immediately grateful for the full-face helmets we had on and quickly slammed my visor shut to protect my precious peepers.
It wasn’t long though before things took a turn for the wet. A fork appeared to our left, leading to the next portion of our trail–a river. So, like three unwieldy salmon transformers (or maybe it was just me making robot sounds in my head?) we trudged upstream over rocky riverbed, the chilly water coming up high enough to soak our ankles.
Eventually, we started to notice people milling about and realized we weren’t so much in the middle of nowhere, but approaching what appeared to be a recreational area. We pulled in and hopped off our vehicles to have a look around. We were at a truchera, we were informed–a trout farm. When booking, you’ll find this tour listed on the website as Tour de la trucha (trout tour).
The pond was indeed filled with imprisoned fish, and all around the edges stood Colombians wielding simple fishing rods made from what looked like bamboo. They would catch their unsuspecting lunch and present it to the restaurant kitchen to be gutted and cooked.
Since we’d just eaten, we gave the restaurant a pass, but I couldn’t say no to a little hair of the dog in the form of a Club Colombia, my favorite local beer. We sat long enough to do some quality people watching and, as we’d find out later, have our legs absolutely demolished by sand flies. A word to the wise: wear insect repellent on this tour!
As we made our way back to our chariots, we negotiated a new deal–we each wanted to drive our own for the second half. Jeremy took back control of the camera and proceeded to capture some of the most impressive selfies-while-riding-an-ATV I’ve ever seen.
The guides, now together on one ATV, took things slowly to start; they obviously underestimated my ability to operate a motor vehicle. Eventually, they got the hint that I didn’t need to be looked after, and that’s when the real fun began.
The second half of the trail was somehow even dustier than the first. Tearing around corners kicked up massive clouds of the stuff, adding a fresh layer of grime to our already filthy clothes. The road was a perfect mix of smooth (allowing for speed) and uneven (requiring more careful maneuvering); I wouldn’t say any part of it was particularly technical, but it certainly kept me on my toes.
Just as the trail ended and we pulled onto pavement to head back to the garage, raindrops began to trickle from the sky. I hopped off my ATV buzzing with excited energy, hardly aware that I’d been a hungover mess just a few hours earlier. Juan Felipe and the rest of the crew at Medellin Adventure Trails showed us an amazing time. I only wish I’d had more time in Colombia to come back and try another one of their tours.
If ATV riding isn’t your thing, they offer a whole host of other activities including horseback riding, mountain biking, and more. For further information, pricing and reservations, visit medellinadventuretrails.com.
Disclosure: I was invited by Medellin Adventure Trails to take part in this tour at no cost, for promotional purposes. You’ll always receive my honest opinions, and I’ll never vouch for a service or product I don’t like.