Mariquita – Parque Nacional Natural de Los Nevados – Mariquita
Day 4 was our adventure to Parque Nacional Natural de Los Nevados. The drive was pretty long for us – maybe 4 hours – but the views were incredible, we just kept going higher and higher. Juan Carlos has an app on his phone that allowed us to see our altitude – I was slightly obsessed with it and may be the reason his phone is currently out of commission. Oops.
The turn into the park is at La Esperanza, there we gathered information about the park and the applications for passes into the park. We also got information about places to stay in the park. The options were limited. Again, no plan because we weren’t originally going to come this way. So glad we did, even if it was only for a few hours.
The weather was cloudy, which was unfortunate but it was still very cool to travel to the peak of this very tall mountain (more than 14,000 feet), see the landscape of a volcano, and see snow in Colombia! There were a TON of rules for getting accustomed to the altitude. We had to drive with the windows down and not put too many layers of clothing on all at once (not a problem because I brought a LOT of layers). We had to drink lots of water – which meant peeing every 15 minutes – there were stops a long the way, thank goodness. We were supposed to eat salty snacks and only natural sugars (That included bocadillo! My favorite Colombian sweet). Even with the clouds and the rain, the landscape was awesome. Strange plants I had never seen and then no plants at all – only black sand dunes that looked like another planet. Eventually, as we reached the top there was snow as well. We were able to drink agua de panela and eat arepas con queso y carne (delicious!) to help us warm up. Then we took some photos, relaxed a bit and headed back down.
We were unable to stay in the park because it turns out if you want to stay at the hotel you need to reserve a room the Aviatur (a Colombian travel agency)…lame. So we began our descent in hopes of finding something nearby. After about 2 hours of reaching a few deadends, we decided to just drive the four hours back to Mariquita and hit up the same hotel from the night before. We stayed occupied with my books of questions that I had on my Kindle and stopped along the way for more agua de panela, cheese and bread. We got in around 8:30pm to Mariquita, paid for a new room, and relaxed.
The next morning we got up, had a great breakfast and then headed back to Bogotá. This was a wonderful trip and I’m looking forward to the next one already – maybe beach the next time. Scuba diving anyone?