El Cocuy – Day 1 – Preparation

Tuesday 28th July 2015

I left San Gil around 10am and got a bus for Tunja immediately. Got there around 2.15pm. Then went on the second floor and asked about buses going to El Cocuy. The next one was going at 5.15pm with Paz del rio operated by Galines buses. So I bought a ticket for that one and spent the next 3 hours reading a book and chilling out in the terminal.

Wed 29th July 2015

I arrived in the night at 2am in El Cocuy after an 8h30 bus ride from Tunja to El Cocuy. The hostel Casa Munoz where I had booked in the afternoon was right next to where the bus stopped which was great! Here is the bus at 2am.


And here is the hostel on the left.


I knocked on the door and after 10 minutes, a woman opened to me and took me to my room. I slept until 9.30am. Then I met an Israeli couple, Gal and Imbra who I had been in touch by email thanks to the Lonely planet forum post about El Cocuy here: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/forums/americas-south-america/topics/pnn-el-cocuy-is-closed They also wanted to hike. We went on a breakfast place finding mission first. Imbra found a place where they could serve us omelet and bread which was nice. Here was our brekky.


El Cocuy is a beautiful little town painted in green and white which represent nature greeness and snow. It has a lot of charm. Children in Colombia wear the uniform like on this shot.

el cocuy

Its inhabitants are dressed with ponchos most of the time, which makes the city even more unique.


We walked to the office where to buy the pass to the El Cocuy National Park but he was closing for lunch.


Opening hours for the registration.

opening hours

We came back later, and here is the map of the National Park mostly found around.


He asked if we had mountain insurance and otherwise to go buy that first. I had a travel insurance but preferred to also get the special mountain insurance that only cost 7,000 COP per day, in case my insurance was not clearly covering mountainering issues.  Got the insurance nearby.


Here is the insurance paper, whoohoo.

insurance for el cocuy

Then paid for the entry to the park for 6 days which was 52,000 COP.

entry to el cocuy

I went to the “Informacion Touristica” nearby too that Milena opened, the woman on this shot on the left.


I asked her about taking a guide for 3 days on days 2,3 and 4 of the 6 days I wanted to spend in the national park to go from Sisuma to El Pulpito del Diablo, sleep there then go to Laguna Grande de la Serra, sleep there and then go to La Esperanza. She called a guide, Juan Carlos who came later to meet and discuss about the price. I said I wanted to carry my own bag and had my own tent, sleeping bag, stove, and all and just needed a guide. I was also keen to buy the food myself in preparation of future self-sufficient treks I wanted to do later. I paid 280,000 COP for the 3 days, 20,000 COP less that was the participation to the food purchase for the guide. I bought some coca leaves to chew to help with handling altitude.


If you dont have your own material, you can also rent the tent, sleeping bag and mattress for 50,000 COP per day. They have good sleeping bag at -7 degrees and some sturdy mattresses.


The tents are from the Pinguin brand which I had never heard of but look very good too and are not that heavy, one kilo for a two-people tent, impressive.


About fuel, gas is actually found easily in Colombia and you can buy a primus can of gas there.


Then with Gal and Imbra we went around on a food purchase mission. Little bird while cruising the city.


The men and their ponchos.


And here was what I bought for the trek, soup, ham, cheese, bread also later, and granola for brekky with apples, and guava fruit paste and jet chocolate bars as snacks. You can definitely buy lots of your food when you get to El Cocuy.


When the modern world meets the old world, man in poncho in the background while young people are on their computer in the street.

el cocuy

The church in the background.


Some other men in their ponchos. Yes I asked them first if I could take that picture.


Dinner time, in Colombia it is often rice, chicken, some potatoes and salad sometimes.


Packed the bag for 6 days and went to bed!