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Mountain Climbing the Colombian Andes in Los Nevados National Natural Park
Imagine breathing in the brisk mountain air of Colombia’s Central Andes from the peak of one of its highest active volcanoes the Nevado del Tolima . Around you in every direction lies the beauty of the Los Nevados Natural National Park. Sloping hills, snow capped volcanoes, glaciers, forests and lakes make up this stunning panorama. You can sit down in the snow knowing you have successfully traversed this 5,2oo meter (17,060 ft) peak over streams, rocky terrain, and steep glaciers all while following in the footsteps of the Colombian mountaineers that have come before you.
The trek of Nevado del Tolima is not the only climb in Colombia’s Los Nevados National Natural Park. This 144,000 acres (58,300 ha) of protected land, provides adventurers with an array of hikes to test their bodies and souls.The cone shaped Ruiz Volcano and the Santa Isabel Summits, the mountains of El Cisne, Santa Rosa and Quindío among others, make the park one of the best climbing destinations in the world for beginner and novice climbers alike.
The professional climbing guides at Montanas Colombianas offer a variety of climbing expeditions around the park. All the guides are locals who grew up in this area and many had been trekking this landscape from a young age. They are eager to introduce guests to the sacred art of climbing these mountains. All expeditions include top of the line gear, acclimatizing periods, accommodation, traditional mountain food, and everything needed to make your dream climb come true.
About Los Nevados National Natural Park
Los Nevados National Natural Park is located in Colombia’s famous Coffee Region a.k.a. Coffee Triangle, which is known for the amount and quality of coffee that is grown there.
The park was established by the Colombian government in 1974, during conservation efforts to save the country’s diverse ecosystems such as the Super-Páramo ecosystem, Páramo, High Andean humid zones, High Andean forest and Andean Cloud forest. Treks through the park will go through the Paramo ecosystem which encompasses the area of the Northern Andes of South America. This ecosystem covers the area above the the forest line, but below the permanent snow line making it a unique natural environment full of a variety of flora and fauna that are only found in four other countries on Earth. The lower slopes of the mountains are covered with the famous wax palms. As you hike upwards the landscape turns into the rocky grasslands of the Paramo until you reach the tropic snow peaks located around 5, 000 meters (16,400 ft) in height.
The park is home to a variety of rare bird species like hummingbirds, eagles, parrots and the mighty condor. It is famous for its towering snow-capped volcanoes that dot the skyline including the Ruiz Volcano, the Santa Isabel Summit, and the Nevado of Tolima. The nearby communities and cities are reliant on the melting glaciers and snow as an essential water source for clean drinking water and farming. The local cities include Pereira, Armenia, Manizales, and Ibague.
Treks in the Park
There is a variety of treks around the park to chooe from depending on your skill level and physical ability. There are treks that connect from city to city and loop through the park, as well as summit treks to the top of the volcanoes. Itineraries are available that range from 1 to 4, 7 or more days.
Santa Isabel Volcano – At a height of 5,100 meters (16,700 ft) this snow capped volcano only requires small technical experience and is relatively easy to climb. The western area of the glacier is located in the municipality of Villamaría (Caldas department), Santa Rosa de Cabal and Pereira (Risaralda department), while the east side of the glacier is located in the Tolima jurisdiction, Murillo and Santa Isabel (Tolima department). The trek begins from the Potosí Farm, located in the Santa Rosa de Cabal on the western slopes of the Colombian Andes. It continues through a path known as the Conejeras and up through Santa Isabel’s glacier to the peak. Another possible route begins in the Cedral farmland, in Pereira, and passes through the cloud forest and El Bosque farmland, until it finishes at the El Otún Lake.
Nevado del Tolima Volcano – Trek to the summit at 5,200 meters (17,110 ft) of this picturesque cone-shaped and active volcano. This trek offers a variety of different landscapes that range from rocky summits to steep glaciers. The view from the top offers probably the best view of the park that stretches for miles in either direction. The most common starting point for the expedition is the Andean town of Salento located in the Cocora Valley and continues through cloud forests, the Acaime natural reserve, and more stunning scenery.
Paramillo of Quindío Mountain – This mountain lost is glacier, but with its loss it uncovered a beautiful terrain full of color and unique characteristics. The mountainside is dawned in sands rich in deep reds, yellows, and browns. During a rain, snow will cover the higher parts of the mountain providing majestic scene that no climber should ever miss seeing. The summit lies at 4,750 mts (15,500 ft).