Hours and hours and hours: a trip to El Cocuy National park in the Eastern Cordillera of the Colombian Andes takes forever. And forever feels even longer if the road is a mere obstacles course with one hole leading to another, trucks and busses driving in slow motion and even road blocks you will not notice until you are right in front of them. However: the reason far more important is that once you are there you do not want to leave again. There is just too much see, too many hikes to take, to many summits to conquer.
Even if it took us 11h – including stops for breakfast and lunch – El Cocuy is all worth the effort. You will pass incredible landscapes on the way to set up your tent in an even better place. All the canyons, river beds and green slopes you passed are nothing compared to this view.
We set up our tents at Kanwara Cabins – at 3995 meters above the sea level. Kanwara is perfect spot to start trekking: They offer guides – if you need one – warm meals and shelter in cold weather in small huts. However: Camping is the way to go. We did two day trips – following the path to the summit of RITAK-UWA BLANCO. We made it almost up to the snow line – which was too mushy to cross.
The second day we hiked to Laguna de los Verdes, a small lake in bright green of which I did not see a thing.
Be aware of the sudden change of weather conditions: On our second day trip we got soaked thoroughly. Half an hour later – with a brilliant blue sky above us – we dried up rather quickly enjoying a perfect view. Unfortunately for the first time that day. It still made up for all hardship.
And that is it: We headed back to Bogotá and made it in less than 10h. I will have to come back though – to stay for an even longer trek in El Cocuy. The five day long traverse of the national park – which we walked for a while – just looked far too tasty.
Florian Meyer-Hawranek is a journalist based in Munich, Germany. He works for the public radio and television "Bayerischer Rundfunk", writes about trekking for the travel section of "Süddeutsche Zeitung" or blogs on www.meyerhawranek.de