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Vuelta a las Sierras / The Sierra Circuit - Trekking - Colombia

The most challenging of the treks in PNN El Cocuy is around the base of the Sierra Nevada del Cocuy, which is 22 kilometers (13.2 miles) and approximately 5 kilometers (3 miles) wide. The excursion takes five to ten days.

A medical doctor with over 10 years experience trekking in Cocuy suggests this demanding five- to six-day circuit: Day 1—Through Las Lagunillas district, over Cusirí (4400 m / 14,432 ft) and Patio Bolos passes to Laguna La Plaza campsite. Day 2—To Laguna del Pañuela, over Paso Balcones (4400 m/14,432 ft). Day 3—To Laguna del Rincón, over Paso de El Castillo (4600 m/15,088 ft). If you are up to making it a very long day, you can continue to Valle de los Cojines and Laguna El Avellanal, crossing the 4600-meter (15,088-foot) Paso de la Sierra. Day 4—Over the mountain passes De los Frailes (4200 m / 13,776 ft) and de Cardenillo (4100 m / 13,448 ft) to Laguna de los Verdes. Day 5—To Kabañas Kanwara. Each day you will be hiking eight to nine hours.



Getting There

If you are properly equipped and have substantial experience at High altitude and alpine/polar trekking, you can do the circuits on your own. A guide, though, is recommended. Pack horses can be hired at many of the lodges.

Travel Tips:

Because all the trekking is at over 4000 meters (13,120 feet) altitude, it is important to acclimatize first upon arriving to the park. Passes are at 4200-4900 meters (13,776 -16,072 feet). The weather can change quite suddenly, with sleet and snow storms. Read the Safety section for more information. You can obtain topographical maps with passes and campsites marked from the national park office in El Cocuy or from the Instituto Geográfico Agosto Codazzi in Bogotá.

Here are other activities in and around Parque Nacional Natural El Cocuy that may be of interest: Las Lagunillas, Sierra Nevada del Cocuy, Cueva de Cuchumba and Trekking.

By Lorraine Caputo

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

18 Mar 2011

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