The Bikepacking for Conservation Program (BCP) is a project that aims to harness the power of cycling to support nature conservation. Low-impact, self-driven and sustainable, bikepacking combines mountain biking and minimalist backpacking. This project identified scenic routes through ecologically important areas to connect people to the nature on which they depend.
The Andean Bear Corridor Routes is the initial project under the BCP, a network of routes that spans across the habitat of the Andean Bear, also known as Spectacled Bear, the only living species of bear native to South America. Connecting the city of Bogotá to the surrounding ecosystems upon which Colombia’s capital and its population of nearly 10 million depend, this network of routes aims to promote responsible and sustainable cycling and support Conservation International-Colombia’s work around sustainable landscapes in the region. Made up of five unique but interconnected routes, Páramos Connexion, Oh Boyaca !, Ruta Chingaza, Ruda El Dorado, and Ruta Aves, The Andean Bear Corridor Routes are hosted on Bikepacking.com where further details about the project can be explored.
Cycling as a sustainable tourism strategy
The ABCR creates opportunities for the global cycling community to become more directly engaged in the protection of nature and has strong potential to stimulate the development of cycling tourism in the Bogotá region, where cycling is growing in popularity.
Many areas along the route have limited infrastructure and are difficult to access even by car. Mountain and gravel bikes can more easily reach these places and improve the potential for rural tourism. In addition to the obvious health and wellbeing benefits of cycling, bikepacking requires less infrastructure than many types of tourism, and rural communities can benefit from the development of small-scale, sustainable ecotourism businesses for cyclists.
In February 2020, Conservation International and partners including Bikepacking.com, Wahoo and others developed a 5-to-7-day bikepacking loop starting and ending in Bogotá. The route, named Ruta Chingaza for Colombia’s Chingaza National Natural Park, connects the city to the rural communities and high montane ecosystems surrounding it.
Chingaza National Natural Park is currently closed to cyclists, but Conservation International is collaborating with park authorities to make cycling a part of the park’s tourism strategy. In the interim, we developed the suite of companion trails featured in the Andean Corridor Routes.
More about the route
Protecting nature to protect water
The native páramos ecosystem that surrounds the city of Bogotá provides and regulates the water supply for more than 10 million people in the region. Conservation International-Colombia is working to secure formal commitments from the water utility, regional and local environmental authorities, the business community and municipal governments to implement a sustainable watershed business plan that would protect, restore and manage 378,000 hectares of páramos and other critical ecosystems, such as Andean jungle and foothill plains.
Conservation International-Colombia is also partnering with local farmers to support sustainable agricultural practices that reduce watershed impacts while maximizing their incomes.
In February, legendary ultra-endurance cyclist Lael Wilcox, Joe Cruz, and the filmmaker Rugile Kaladyte traveled to the Colombian capital of Bogota, in partnership with Conservation International, Wahoo, and Bikepacking.com, to launch the Bikepacking for Conservation Program. The project was designed to explore and scout a bikepacking route that would connect the bustling metropolis of Bogota with rural communities and the Chingaza National Park. The resulting route -- Ruta Chingaza -- will help cyclists connect to nature and better understand the ecosystems upon which life and livelihoods in this area depend. Chingaza National Natural Park is currently closed to cyclists, but Conservation International is collaborating with park authorities to make cycling a part of the park’s tourism strategy, and anticipate that cycling experiences (including bikepacking) will be permitted by sometime in 2021, though it is hard to anticipate when exactly due to COVID-19. Please do not travel to the park at this time Film shot and edited by Rugile Kaladyte Partners: Bikepacking.com Conservation International Komoot Pearl Izumi Wheels Manufacturing Riders: Lael Wilcox Logan Watts Joe Cruz Nathalia Penton Eliot Wuhrmann Adam Charles Smith Subscribe to the Wahoo Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/wahoofitness?sub_confirmation=1 Check out the Ruta Chingaza route here: https://bikepacking.com/routes/ruta-chingaza/
In early 2020, legendary ultra-endurance cyclist Lael Wilcox, Joe Cruz, and the filmmaker Rugile Kaladyte traveled to the Colombian capital of Bogotá, in partnership with Conservation International, Wahoo, and Bikepacking.com, to launch the Bikepacking for Conservation Program.
Learn more about the route on bikepacking.com »
For updates, and if you’re interested in learning more about future BCP projects and ways to get involved, please reach out to Adam Smith or Eliot Wuhrmann.