Country : Colombia
Region : Coffee Zone
Outdoor activity : Hiking
Sustainable tourism rating :
The impressive Cocora valley hike made us wanting for more, so we decided to try a new trek in the mountains. This time our aim was to cross the dense jungle and reach the Paramo (typical vegetation of the Andes).
We left for a 2 day trek with the challenge to do it in one! Before we launch we have calculated the travel time, checked the weather even if it is not very reliable and consulted a map (hand drawn) in a trekking agency in Salento.
A long 10 hours walk was waiting for us but we were happy to discover these beautiful mountains.
Wake up at 5h30 to take the first jeep leaving for Salento towards the Cocora Valley (at 6.10).
We have been warned that this trek should not be done without a guide because you can easily get lost on one of the many trails that criss-cross the paramo but stubborn as we are, we decided to challenge the fate.
As soon as we arrived we headed towards the Estrella de Agua (3140 m) first stop that would indicate whether we have time to climb to the Parque Nacional de los Nevados on the peaks covered with paramo vegetation.
And here we are, 2 hours 45 after we left the parking lot of the Cocora Valley already arrived at the first morning stop(instead of 4 hours).
Next stop La Finca la Primavera in Los Nevados PNN. The few local that have crossed our path told us that we need 1 to 3hours to get to the Paramo. Not easy to know if it’s the first or the latest who were right.
As we do not want to miss the last jeep returning to Salento (at 5 during the week and 6.30 on weekends), we continued our climb to the peaks with the same agility even though we started out feeling tired with altitude.
On top of all, the slippery and muddy road didn’t facilitated the task. An hour and a half later we reached the entrance of Los Nevados Park at the Paramo Romerales (3590m).
Once we exit the dense jungle that has sheltered us from the sun, we finally reached the peaks and had access to a breathtaking view.
We were warned that it would be cold and the veil of fog on the mountains peaks will make it harder to find the pathway that is barely visible even in good weather.
This time we were very lucky because the sun was shining, the wind blew just enough to refresh us and clouds were far away.
We started to get into this lands dominated by the serene beauty of nature to reach one of the peaks that would allow us to see the other side of the mountain range.
Unfortunately time was running and we had to be back at the meeting point for 5’o clock (not for the cup of tea with the queen but in order to have public transportation to regain Salento).
We took a 20-minute rest and prepared a delicious meal and then started our descent around 12.30.
The return was much easier and faster than we had imagined and we arrived earlier than expected.
The trail was drier and we managed to walk at a good rhythm. We even had the luxury to take the longer way which reserved us amazing views over the Cocora Valley.(see article Cocora Valley)
As we had the time, we enjoyed the views and take beautiful pictures to immortalize this hike.
The path is well signposted until the paramo and if you go in the dry season it is in fairly good condition.
We can do this walk with or without a guide and we have the opportunity to sleep in a tent or in a finca along the trail
For the SporTrotters with very good physical condition this trek to Paramo is achievable in one day;)
The jeeps to reach the departure cost only 3400 pesos per person and run hourly from Salento to the Cocora Valley.
If we enter the PNN Los Nevados by the Valle de Cocora the admission is free as from Manizales you must pay
We experienced the same day, three different types of vegetation
If you miss the last jeep (public transportation) you can order a taxi jeep for $ 27000 pesos.
There is no map with hiking trails for the region
No water on the hike so bring enough supplies
The 1600 m that you need to climb is a severe test in the rainy season because the path turns into mud and it is impracticable.
Nobody tells you that you can go on free hikes from Salento, the Tourist office has no information