The next morning we took the bus to Salento. This town lies up in the mountains on 1900m altitude. Due to the long weekend the town organized a food and artist festival and hundreds of Columbians from all over the country joined the fiesta.
Trout was the specialty so we definitely had to try it. The fish in the garlic butter sauce was really tasty and afterwards we found some really good life music. You really have to go into the stores or you will miss out the beautiful courtyards hidden in the houses, with even more stores, cafes and bars.
We explored a bit the Valle de Cócora and at the Reserva Acaime we observed those beautiful and quick hummingbirds. After 4 hours we made it back to the Willy-Jeeps which brought us back to Salento.
Michael tried to organize a three day trip into the National Park Los Nevados. We wanted to go up on the snow field of the volcano. Two people we have met while traveling wanted to join us but unfortunately one had a spread ankle and one a massive cold.
Luckily Felipe, our Guide, offered us a super deal for the two of us and off we went with him into the mountains. Another traveler recommended us Felipe and gave us the contact details. Our guide was extremely fit since he runs half marathons and goes thrice a month into the mountains.
The first day we did the 2000m altitude on a horse back. It was like cross-country and I never thought a horse could walk those kind of tracks. Not only was it muddy as hell, it was steep and stony. One time our horses had all 4 legs in the air. I felt bad for the animals, especially when they were pumping like crazy.
When we passed the first retreat Michael’s horse went nuts and ran through the gate. Unfortunately the gate was pretty tight and Michael’s knee bumped painfully against the post. We arrived Astrid’s retreat at around 4pm and completely exhausted from sitting in the saddle we actually lie down till dinner. Well this up and down on a horse back is actually a lot of work.
The nights where cold but we had plenty of heavy blankets. The shelter was like the ones in the Himalaya, made of wood, where the wind just blows through. The kitchen was a dark and smoky place, but warm. The wooden fire made our eyes watery but better than freezing.
On the second day we left early since we had 10 hours and 1400m each way ahead of us. The ice field of the volcano starts at around 5000m and that’s where we wanted to go. It was a tough hike since we walked on animal trails – muddy, slippery and narrow.
Michael got a headache due to the altitude but Felipe was well prepared and had some medicine. Since Felipe had a massive condition he had a tough pace. Sometimes he was a bit too fast for us but we caught up and after the last climb we finally made it up to the ice field. You could smell the sulfur and we left a message in the snow before our descent.
Well don’t do this hike if you don’t have a very good condition since it is a lot of climbing. Especially the altitude is a bastard. But we made it and felt so good that we did a detour to a nice lagoon on our way back. Tired and hungry we wolfed our food down. We have to say, Astrid cooks fantastic and I couldn’t finish the massive portions.
On the third day we hiked back to Salento. After 6 hours and 2000m altitude, lot of sliding on this crazy muddy trail, we reached our hostel but unfortunately they didn’t have a room available. But we found a very nice and quiet hostel where we could do some laundry and clean our boots. We had a nice dinner with our guide before we fell in bed.
The last days in Colombia will be in Bogotá so we had to get ready for our 10 hours bus ride.
Accommodation: Hostal Tralala, Cra 7, no. 6-45, Salento
Price: COP 20 000 per person, 8 bed dorm, shared bathroom, WiFi, kitchen, TV room
Comment: nice but you cannot make a reservation for one night so when we came back after an
extremely exhausting 3 day hike into the mountains there were no rooms left. I think this is
bad customer service since we had been already customers
Accommodation: Hostal El Jardin, Salento
Price: COP 20 000 per person, 3 bed dorm, shared bathroom, WiFi, kitchen
Comment: very quiet atmosphere with only another couple in the whole hostel