Trekking in Colombia
Description of Trekking in Colombia
There is another story to Colombia, beyond the headlines, and it is becoming better-known. This is now one of the best, and most sought-after travel destinations in South America but there are still many parts of the country that remain under-explored, ready and waiting for the adventurous travellers.
During this exhilarating 12-day trekking holiday in Colombia you’ll depart the capital, Bogota, after an enthralling tour of its many highlights, and fly into the very heart of the famed coffee region. Travelling by US army jeep, ideal for negotiating the uneven terrain, you’ll continue into the Cocora Valley adjacent to the Los Nevados National Park, to begin several days of hiking through what are often surreally beautiful landscapes.
Cloud forests, lush green pastures, volcanic calderas, lakes and vast canyons await you, teeming with colourful birdlife. You will pass through remote but welcoming villages, stay in traditional haciendas, and have the option to bathe in hot springs and ride horse. Relax in the evenings over fine wines, billiards and maybe try your aim with a traditional game of tejo.
To finish, a flight out to Santa Marta on Colombia’s idyllic Caribbean coast, where you’ll find more thrilling treks in the Tayrona National Park, as well as optional activities such as handicrafts workshops with indigenous groups, river tubing and even a gastronomy tour of the area. Or maybe you prefer just to stretch out on the golden beaches, and catch some more sun before the return to Bogota.
Don’t expect this side of Colombia to be off the beaten track for long – this tour is for those that prefer not to walk in the footprints of others.
PlanetMost of our tours have some element of wildlife and Hidden Colombia trek in PNN Los Nevados National Park is no different. Los Nevados is home to a large number of endemics, which by definition have a range that is limited to Colombia. Given that Los Nevados is an 'island' of diversity, full of highly-threatened high-Andean forest - much of which was cut down for agricultural livestock expansion - and paramo - the world's fastest evolving ecosystem that only occurs in 4 countries, there are many species that only live here, such as the endangered Rufous-fronted Parakeet, an emerald coloured parrot that is a delight to see during our trek, and also Buffy Helmetcrest hummingbird - another endemic that calls Los Nevados home. Other specialities include re-introduced Andean Condor which has thrived after a sucessfull programme with breeding pairs brought in from zoos in California, and also a plethora of high-Andean hummingbirds, much of which would be otherwise rare. A trek in Colombia at high-altitude is a journey through ecosystems and animal sightings are many, being the most biodiverse country per km squared on Earth. Colombia also has the highest diversity of birds. During any given tour it is our duty to highlight the animals that are found in the park, which are conservation objectives and why and where there is more work to be done. We feel very strongly about educating our visitors on where they are, so that they too can become advocates of conservation in Colombia. Donations from our groups are common and we then source local NGO's to pass these on to, those that we know are carrying out valuable work.
Before any trek we first reduce the amount of waste that is taken up to the mountains by storing as much food as possible in plastic containers, removing wrapping. Clients are all given a bag where they can pick up any rubbish that they may find on trail. Our policy is to leave any campsite and trail cleaner than when we find it and this has been very popular among our guests.
PeopleOur supply chain during any given tour is based around the local community. During this trip we use local 'fincas' in the páramo for services that range from mule porterage, guiding, food and working within our trek team itself (our trek team are all from towns local to the national park). We try and break down the services for each day to see where the possibilities are to source them locally. We think that this is the best way to ensure that as much of the income from the trek stays with the local community as possible. In terms of recommending other services that aren't necessarily on our tour, we do that all of the time, we offer free consultation to just about anyone who needs it and we always recommend those who share our values as a company, which basically comes down to doing good work for the community, for the culture, heritage and for the environment through tourism. By working with like minded people we know that are efforts on tour and recommendations overall will reach that much farther.
We care greatly for a school that we camp by during our trek in Los Nevados so therefore before any clients come to Colombia we always ask them to bring any items, such as school utilities (pens, notebooks, books, dictionaries etc) that could be of use for the 7 or so school kids who use this highland school - it's the only difficult-access school in the whole of Risaralda department (state). Additionally, we donate a per-client sum of money to the school for it to be spent on whatever they need. The teacher, who has worked there for over 10 years is a personal friend who has fought long and hard for the community, so we know that the donations are in good hands.
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