Finally it was time for some hiking again! Laura and I had opted for a tour since she was missing gear anyways, we didn’t have the time to do all the planning and organisation ourself. We started out in a group of eight and it turned out to be a real fun group which really enriched the hike itself.

First highlight though was that the trail started at the point of our hike from yesterday and actually also took the same path we did yesterday – for half the way. This is what happens if you do it the toursit style and don’t plan yourself but just book “something”. So we again walked through the muddy fields up to the hummingbird station. But this time in more or less sunshine and clouds only which was really nice.

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Also gave us time to take pictures.

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We had two guides. Josè and Fredy which were really good sports. Both with biology backgorund and great guys who would have quite a few surprises for us in their backpacks. I also loved Jose’s statement on his shirt:

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The trek continued through the thick rain/cloudforest until the trail became really muddy. Since I went in my trailrunners again it was a fun challenge to hop from one dry or not so deep spot to the next one.

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After about four hours of hiking, a short break in one of the farms with a nice soup we had half the altitude and distance behind us for the day. We started at 2,100 masl and had to go up to 3,800 masl – quite a decent climb! We arrived on the farm and it stated poring down on us. But when we left about 1,5h later it stopped raining and we continued more ore less dry on our way up. We got out of the forest into an open area which was covered by almost like palm tree looking plants – espeletia, commonly known as frailejón. They only grow 2.5 cm per year and sometimes reach 10m which makes the big ones 400 years old! They have very soft and thick leaves and capture the water vapor from the clounds. The clounds again did the best #cloudporn ever. We were constantly below, in, above or all of them at the same time.

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When we finally arrived at the plateau it was already getting dark. Sunset at pretty much exactly 6pm. The hills and trails reminded me a bit of the Tararuas in NZ. Could have hiked the ridgelines forever. Since it also started raining a bit and it was still another 3km to go I got the directions of the guide and took off for a little final sprint to warm up.

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The sunset was amazing. I went over the last little ridge to drop down to the finca and place for teh night. By this I didn’t get to see the actual sunset but the play of colours in the mountains and clouds was just stunning.

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I just made it before it got dark and was happy not to have to get my head lamp out. The rest of the crew arrived a bit later and we had a nice dinner in the rustic kitchen. At 8pm everybody was in bed sleeping. At 6.30am we got up again for a breakfast again in the little kitchenfullsizeoutput_565f.jpeg

Shortly after 7 we left for the summit. Today another 1,000 m were due. The cloud game continued and we slowly but steadily made our way up to the lower crater rim. The landscape was still dominated by the beautiful espeletia.

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The actual crater of Paramillo del Quindio is a 3/4 standing crater rim and 1/4 has been blown away during the last eruption forming a lava outflow valley with a steep an narrow crack. We circled in on the southwestern side, crossed the valley and continued on the other side to the base of the crater.

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The weather was actually beautiful. We had clouds, a bit of sun in between, a few rain drops but nothing bad. Once we arrived at the bottom of the crater the clouds pushed in and we were in a complete whiteout. So the last and fairly steep 300-400m uphill to the highest point of the crater rim were without views therefore. The lose vulcanic gravel reminded me a lot on the last 1000 meters of Kilimanjaro – only a bit lighter in colour. After maybe 1.5h we stood at the top. What can I say – we where there. But I can’t say anything about the probably beautiful view. You will have to google that 😂

As we stood on the top it started hailing on us so we didn’t spent too much time up there. But our guides had a really nice surprise for us which they also carried up on top of the rest – a block of chocolate with a personal message for everyone.

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Anyways – that’s part of being in the mountains. Sometimes you get the views and sometimes you get the clouds. We hiked down to the bottom of the crater which was a lot easier than up of course and Jose who had left a bit early had already put up a little tarp to shelter us from the rain for our lunch break. We had good wraps with home made salsa and avocados. It rained for an hour and when we wanted to leave it stopped again and we proceeded through the valley back. This time we crossed a bit earlier and had to go through the swamp. It looked like mossy and soft islands but they where hard as a rock. The water patches in bewtween were so deep that you couldn’t see the ground nor touch them with fully extended trekking pols.

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We navigated through the swamp and of course – the sky cleared up and we got nice views on the summit again. Well, just an hour too late. Even the hail and wind stopped and with this we had beautiful reflections of the sourroundings in the little lakes.

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The way down went quickly and the rest of the evening was light and happy. We had a few beers and playe cards in the warm kitchen again. The  next morning started out in the clouds again.

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We fought our way back down again through more mud and clouds and stopped for a quick soup in one of the farm houses. Again – we arrived and it started raining and when we left an hour later the sun came out and it stopped. Perfect timing!

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We hiked for another hour when we came to a little viewpoint over the valley. Again time for a little break and snack. I think I actually gained weight on this hiking trip. Fredy and Jose had carried cheese, olives, salami and a BOTTLE OF WINE for this last picknick. And if carrying a glas bottle of wine was not enough it was even Carmenere from Chile – the worlds best red wine. What a finish!!

The last stroll down over a few bridges and streams and we arrived back in the valley of the wax palms.

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When we arrived back in the valley we of course treated us with another finisher beer and hopped on one of the 4×4 again. Guess who took one of the three standing-seats on the back of teh jeep. Good fun at the end! When we arrived back in town we were invited for a dinner by the tour operator which was nice way to end this trip.

If you go to Colombia definitely do this hike and visit the Los Nevados National Park! And I can highly recommend our tour operator: Paramo Trek

Thanks also to the fantastic guides and hiking crew for the fun andventure: Keep Hiking, Keep Living 🤘

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