“Discover the enchanting paramo ecosystem in Chingaza National Natural Park in the Colombian Andes.”
— Mateo Largo
Lake · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife
All restrictions related to Colombian National Natural Parks' legislations apply. The most relevant concern: entry permissions required, no pets, no extraction of fauna and flora from the park, no hunting/fishing, no bonfires, and accompaniment by a local guide is required.
The route goes through a special protected area that is very important for the conservation of the high Andean mountain lakes. These lakes, combined with waterfalls, canyons, and rivers, offer a spectacular, rarely visited, and relatively undiscovered landscape.
During the trail, expect some extremely muddy and eroded paths. The return from San Juanito requires a four-wheel drive vehicle. It is highly recommended to be accompanied by a local guide who will aid you with trip arrangements related to shelter and transportation. Before setting out for the trail, permission from authorities of the Chingaza National Park is required.
Need to Know
For reservations and Chingaza National Natural Park entry permission and fees, write to firstname.lastname@example.org, with copy to email@example.com. The National Natural Parks of Colombia website does not offer this trail, so no information regarding it will be found on the website.
Bring enough cash, because there are no available ATM machines nearby.
The terrain is muddy and cloudy/rainy conditions are expected due to this high altitude climate. Also, beware, some parts of the trail are not well signed and a guide is required. A mountain lodge is located at midpoint of the trail, called "El Rajadero" lodge. For spending the night, you will need a sleeping bag, thermal sleeping pad, camping gas, aside from other personal necessities.
The route starts at Chingaza Lake, with a beautiful view of the geological formations that have resulted from millions of years of glacial retreat. You'll cross through almost six different lakes, waterfalls, and rivers. Some of these lakes are part of the "El Dorado Legend", and the trail itself was built by indigenous people and colonials who used it mainly for trade.
At the end of the first day, you'll arrive at "El Rajadero" lodge, located in the heart of the paramo. At the second day of the route, you'll cross the Andean forest before arriving to San Juanito town in the department of Meta, where you'll see the great Guatiquia Canyon and get in touch with customs and lifestyle of the Colombian rural areas.
Flora & Fauna
The paramo ecosystem that you will see along the run is unique to only five countries worldwide. Chingaza has one of the most conserved paramo ecosystems and, if you are lucky, there is the opportunity of sighting the Andean spectacled bear, white-tailed deer, paramo duck, and hummingbirds, among other fauna. Regarding flora, you will see the endemic and characteristic paramo frailejones, orchids, and other paramo flora.
History & Background
After the native American communities showed these areas to the colonials, some Catholic priests began to use the trail for evangelic missions and thus founded the towns of San Juanito and El Calvario, located in the middle of the Guatiquia River. For years, countrymen crossed the trail, trading cattle and other products, until the Chingaza National Park was declared in 1972 and this area was dedicated for conservation. Currently, with efforts of Chingaza NP staff, the trail is being reopened for nature-lovers.