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Safety

Since the military takeover of the region in 2003, Parque Nacional Natural El Cocuy and surrounding villages are now considered safe. Trekkers report seeing army units patrolling the park interior. However, the llano side of the park, going down into Arauca and Casanare Departments, is still within the zona caliente (hot zone) of the country's civil war.

Additionally, much of this area is dense virgin growth and unmapped wilderness, where people have disappeared. It is highly recommended that trekkers ask around locally before planning an itinerary.

Military patrols may ask for your identification. A park official in El Cocuy said a notarized photocopy of one's passport would be acceptable in lieu of the original document.

Consider the altitude you are at. The lodges of the park are just below 4,000 meters (13,120 feet) and the park itself is at 4,000 meters or more. If traveling from Bogotá, you will gain significant altitude in very short time. Do not push yourself to begin any hiking or trekking immediately after arriving. Properly acclimatize. High mountain sickness and pulmonary edema are serious threats, the latter resulting in at least one death per year. Also take precautions for hypothermia, snow blindness, dehydration and sunburn. Use 30+ factor sun screen and UV-protector sun glasses. Temperatures can drop dramatically, and snow or sleet storms can start with a moment's notice. Have thermal clothing and rain gear at all times. Use sturdy boots. If you bring a cellular phone, Comcel is recommended and you should turn it off and on every four hours to avoid signal problems. It can be difficult to receive cell phone signal in the park itself or the neighboring lodges.

As always, be sure to seek local advice about conditions, of both the environment and political climates.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Parque Nacional Natural El Cocuy: When To Go, Permits and Medical and Rescue.








By Lorraine Caputo

Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...

14 May 2009



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