(Entry to the park US$11 for non-Colombians, payable at the park office (on the corner of the main plaza in Cocuy), where you can also obtain a map with the main walking paths.)
The Sierra Nevada del Cocuy is a mecca for hikers and climbers on high altitude in Colombia. This breathtaking mountain area in the national park is located in two departments, Boyacá and Santander and consists of two parallel north-south ranges about 30 km long, offering peaks of rare beauty, many lakes, big cliffs, waterfalls and literally thousands of frailejone plants. It is one of the most amazing geographical places in the whole of South America. In an area of about 30 km, there are more than 22 snowy peaks; it meets the biggest mass of snow and ice in South America north of the equatorial line. The snow peaks range from 4900 m to 5322 m of the Ritacuba Blanco, which is the highest one of the park. This park is simply THE place in Colombia for any high-altitude hiker or climber.
The park is accessible in the south from the small town of El Cocuy or further north from Güicán. Both towns are perfect start or end point for any hiking or climbing activity in the park. On the central square of El Cocuy you will find a miniature model of the mountain area. One of the most spectacular hikes in the park is walking from south to north (or vice versa), during which you will see a great part of what the park has to offer. It might seem to be an easy marked trail but it is highly recommend to go with a guide if you don’t know the park as sudden changes in climate means visibility can unexpectedly drop to less than 10 m. You will need to know where to camp and where to get drinking water.
There is no accommodation in the park, so you will need to bring all equipment yourself. Basic food supply can be bought in El Cocuy or Güicán but otherwise you should bring your food from Bogotá. There is no need to bring ice axes or crampons. Temperature can drop below 0°C during the nights as most campsites are around 4000 m. A number of treks and hikes are available.
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Sierra Nevada del Cocuy information
Best Time To Go
When to go
It is best to avoid the peak holiday periods (the last week in December, the first two weeks of January and Easter week) as campsites can get very busy during these times. Dry seasons are December to April and July to August but even in those months it can rain or be very foggy. There has been no problem with safety in recent years.
Ins and outs
El Cocuy and Güicán can be reached by direct bus (early morning or late in the evening) from Bogota (10-12 hours) with Paz del Río, Libertadores and Concorde for US$15. Coming from Bucaramanga, switch buses in Capitanejo. Around 0600 milk trucks leave the main plaza of El Cocuy. They can take you to the Cabañas Guaicany (the southern entrance of the park), Finca la Esperanza (for Laguna Grande de la Sierra) or to Hacienda Ritacuba from where it is about an hour’s walk to get to the Cabañas Kanwarra. An Expresso (private transport) costs around US$34, which can be arranged at the main plaza in El Cocuy.
GUAICANI TURISMO ECOLÓGICO (GUAICANI ECOLOGICAL TOURISM) is a established firm dedicated in and performing in the area of tourism in the Sierra Nevada de El Cocuy. Emphasizing its market towards adventure or open-air sports such as mountaineering, and trekking among others. It offers different tourist plans depending on the interests and capacities of the client. We promote the appreciation and establishment of links of the people with their region in order to generate feelings of identity and mostly of appropriation, love and responsibility for what one has.
We are professional guides, native of the Sierra Nevada del Cocuy and Güicán. We invite to preserve and live and experience in the mountain where the most important thing is the contact of the visitor with the greatness of nature. We operate in the Sierra Nevada de El Cocuy-Güicán, Suesca, Cundinamarca and Bogotá. We have developed several programs. We personalize your expedition. The Colombian mountains are special ecosystems that present unique climatic and atmospheric conditions, making the places of untouched beauty and seldom visited. With the help of Guaicani you will be assured of a magnificent experience that will enrich your life and that of your family.