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Jun 05 2015

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Back to the mountains

After considering all the possible options and more, I decided to go up to Bogotá again through the West. Even if I tried different times, Colombia’s volcanoes were still a “pending subject” for me and I did not want to leave the country without visiting at least one of them. I took a flight from Santa Marta to Manizales ready for my second assault to Volcano Nevado del Ruiz but first I decided to spend some more time in Zona Cafetera to get used to altitude again. This time I visited Filandia (or Finlandia), another cute coffee town. Filandia is more authentic, less touristy than its neighbor Salento but the surrounding landscape is less impressive so I think I prefer Salento . .

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Back to Manizales, I learnt than Volcán Nevado del Ruiz was still off limits since its last eruptions in 2011 and 2012. Instead, tourist agencies were proposing an alternative hike to Nevado Santa Isabel, also located in PNN Los Nevados and that’s what I booked for the following day.

The trip started around 5.00 in the morning because we had a 3 hour drive to the park by 4WD. After a good breakfast we went on always by 4WD to the starting point of the hike.

The climb to the foot of the glacier at 4.750m (3 to 4 hours in total) is not difficult if you are acclimatized and it crosses different thermal floors: cold, páramo, superpáramo and of course snow.

We were a big group of 15 people and we had two guides. Because there were different levels of fitness, the guides stopped many times during the climb to allow a good acclimatization and they used these pauses to point out interesting things like plants or wildlife. Having still a big reserve of red blood cells, I preferred to walk slowly but without stopping so I set out in front of the group and reached the summit on my own time (and missed all the explanations, lol).

I especially enjoyed walking through the volcanic scoria (it reminded me of Tongariro in New Zealand) and of course the weird frailejones, typical plants of Colombian páramo.

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The views at the foot of the glacier were amazing, from another world, and despite there were many people around taking pictures this place emitted a sense of peace difficult to describe.

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Back to Manizales we were lucky enough to be able to see Volcán Nevado del Ruiz and even if it was far away it looked very impressive.

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This was a very beautiful hike and PNN Los Nevados is definitely an area that deserves a deeper exploration. Hopefully Nevado del Ruiz will calm down, one day . . .

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