Los Nevados National Park is located in the central mountain range of the Colombian Andes, between the Caldas, Risaralda, Quindío and Tolima departments (states). Within the park boundaries one can find three snow-covered volcanoes (Ruiz, Santa Isabel and Tolima), large expanses of paramo forests, lakes and streams, where a diverse array of animal and plant species coexist. The park spans an area of 583 km2 (225 sq mi), with a maximum altitude of 5,321 meters (1,053 feet) above the sea level at the top of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano, and a minimum altitude of 2,600 meters (8,530 feet).
This excursion is a beautiful four-day trek that includes a summit attempt to the snowed peak Santa Isabel. The trail crosses the paramos that surround the snow covered peaks and the campsite is situated by the shore of the majestic Otún Lagoon.
Bring Three layers of specialized clothes for cold and wet weather at mountain altitudes between 2000mts (6560Feet) to 5000mts (16400feet), where we will face cold temperatures between -6C° (21F°) and 15C° (60F°) plus the occasional wind chill factor. We should bring also protection against sun, wind and rain.
ITINERARY 4 DAYS
City of origin – Manizales – Potosí
Early in the morning we will meet at the southern bus terminal in Medellin to take a bus to Manizales. There, a four-wheel drive car will take us to Los Nevados National Park through a spectacular route. Once we reach the Potosí farm we will leave the car to set up our campsite. This location will offer us stunning views of the high Andean mountains and a chance to spend some time with the local peasant community.
Note: Those not embarking from Medellin may travel to Manizales to start the trip from there.
Potosí – Lake Otún
On the second day in the mountains we will walk the Corinto trail that will take us to the spectacular Lake Otún at 3,800 meters (12,467 feet) where we will establish our second campsite. Mules will be available to carry our bags to the campsite so each of us will only be carrying a small backpack. The trail will take us around five hours and we will have the chance to enjoy most of the mountainous landscape of the park.
Once settled by the lake, we will cook our lunch and then visit the nearby sulfur outcrops in the afternoon. Afterward, the sunset will present a perfect backdrop for relaxing and taking pictures.
Lake Otún – Nevado Santa Isabel – Lake Otún
Vefore the dawn we will start our walk to the Nevado Santa Isabel in order to make the summit. While climbing the trail we will witness a beautiful transformation of the landscape as we gain altitude. We will first walk through several lakes in the paramo, then enter the more barren and sandy zones before finally reaching the snow. Once on the glacier, we will follow the guide’s instructions to put on the equipment required (crampons, piolets, ropes, harness, etc) to make our journey to the summit. Atop of the Nevado Santa Isabel at 5000 m (16,404 feet) we will enjoy stunning views of large parts of the park. After resting for a while we will descend to our campsite by Lake Otún.
Once at the campsite we will enjoy a deserved hot lunch-dinner before spending our last night in the mountains. The Day 3 trekking will last around eight hours.
Lake Otún – City of origin
On our last day in the mountains we will make our way homeward. We will first pack and break camp and load the mules that will take the bags back to Potosí. The trail on Day 4 will take us some five hours, during which we will be able to see all the great peaks of the park: El Ruiz, El Tolima, El Santa Isabel, among others. Once at Potosí the four-wheel drive car will be waiting for us to take us back to Manizales, where we will finally take a bus to return to our city of origin.