The five days of Colombia’s Cocuy Circuit trek on video

I’m currently hiking in Los Nevados National Park, in the Cordillera Central, the middle of the three parallel belts of mountains that span the Colombian Andes from north to south.

I hope it’s going to be as good as last time I came, when I hiked the Cocuy Circuit trek in the Cordillera Oriental, the eastern range. To whet your appetite for this beautiful country, here are five videos covering all five days of the trek I completed in 2011

The smiles in these videos tell it all.

Day 1

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An inauspicious start as we hiked up to the northern end of the Sierra Nevada del Cocuy, a range of mountains close to the border of Colombia and Venezuela. The trek crossed paramo grasslands renowned for wet and windy weather, and in this respect it didn’t disappoint: a muddy hike up grasslands to a bleak pass in thick mist.

Day 2

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The second day dawned crisp and bright and a fantastic day of trekking was in store. From a lovely green campsite we completed a circuit of a lake then crossed two high passes as we ascended to an increasingly rocky landscape that led into the heart of the Sierra Nevada del Cocuy. The rock cliffs of the Ritacubas towered hundreds of metres above us.

Day 3

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A very unusual day as we continued our journey under the rock walls of Ritacuba, amid forests of frailejones plants, with waterfalls crashing above us. What made the day stand out from any ordinary day of trekking was our crossing of the Valle de los Cojines, a damp swamp which we crossed by using islands of cojines (cushion) plants as stepping stones.

Day 4

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We left a bleak, rocky campsite on the shores of a lake for the best day of the trek. A high cliff path led to a high plateau and more forests of frailejones up to another pass. The final part of the day involved scrambling up smooth slabs in an eerie mist. The slabs had been scoured clean by a glacier which has now retreated, and a black lake below gave the sense of being close to the sea, when in reality we were deep inland at an altitude of 4,000m.

Day 5

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A slog up steep scree to another high pass led to shock and disappointment. The pass was supposed to be glaciated, but there was hardly any ice left. We descended past more high-altitude lakes to a farmhouse back in the land of greenery.

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