Five Incredibly Epic Hikes in Colombia

Colom­bia is one of the most nat­u­ral­ly stun­ning coun­tries in South Amer­i­ca and the per­fect des­ti­na­tion for hik­ers in search of a few thrills. The coastal Sier­ra Neva­da de San­ta Mar­ta Moun­tains, three ranges of the Andes and the Ama­zon rain­for­est pro­vide a wealth of land­scapes to explore. Here are just a few of the best.

The Lost City Trek

Columbia's Lost City
The hike to Colombia’s Lost City is one of the more pop­u­lar tourist attrac­tions in the coun­try, but don’t let that deter you. The four-day trek cross­es some of the region’s rich­est land­scapes and tra­vers­es a few rivers that might make you rethink ever attempt­ing this in the first place. It’s ardu­ous and fun and a great way to explore one of the old­est ruins on Earth. Hik­ers are required to hire a guide to help get you through, after a kid­nap­ping over a decade ago, but they are all high­ly trained and know all of the best spots to camp.

Purace Nation­al Park

Zona Purace
Purace Nation­al Park, just two hours out­side of Popayan, is a pop­u­lar trek for expe­ri­enced hik­ers look­ing to reach the top of the Purace Vol­cano. It’s rare to see the friend­ly weath­er need­ed to make the ascent, but those who find the time are in for some incred­i­ble views. Mean­while, a lit­tle low­er down there’s a stren­u­ous trail that winds twen­ty miles through cas­cad­ing water­falls, nat­ur­al hot springs, tree­less plateaus, and Andean lakes. If you’re lucky you might even spot one of the country’s elu­sive Andean con­dors.

Páramo de Ocetá

Ciudad de Piedra
Colom­bia is known for its beau­ti­ful páramos, trop­i­cal, alpine tun­dra ecosys­tems that exist at high alti­tudes, and the Páramo de Ocetá is wide­ly con­sid­ered the most impres­sive. A thir­ty mile trek from Las Cin­tas to Monguí will take you over 3,000 feet up and pro­vide sweep­ing views of the tree­less tun­dra, low-grow­ing forests of páramo flo­ra and fields of lupine wild­flow­ers. It’s expan­sive and stren­u­ous and one of the great­est hikes the coun­try has to offer. The crag­gy ridges and end­less hills will wear you out quick­ly, but there plen­ty of creeks and rivers along the where you can take a break and relax.

El Cocuy Nation­al Park

 El Cocuy Panorama
El Cocuy Nation­al Park is one of Colombia’s great­est mar­vels. Over 1,150 square miles of rocky val­leys, glacial lakes and snow­capped peaks are tucked away inside the park just wait­ing to be explored. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, local offi­cials have cut down on the oppor­tu­ni­ty to explore much of the park for the time being, lim­it­ing hik­ers to a 50-mile area, but it’s still cer­tain­ly worth the trip. Pack for a few days as you’ll def­i­nite­ly want to camp out as you check out the stun­ning topog­ra­phy and make your way to the snow­line.

Neva­do del Toli­ma Sum­mit

 Nevado del Tolima
If you’re wait­ing for a chal­lenge look no fur­ther than Neva­do del Toli­ma. This mon­strous peak stands 17,310 feet tall and requires a great deal of expe­ri­ence in order to reach the top. It takes a min­i­mum of three days in high-alti­tude and typ­i­cal­ly hate­ful weath­er to make it there. The main hike begins in the jun­gles at the base before ascend­ing into the glac­i­ers. You’ll need to pack ice axes and the right boots to tra­verse this beast. Neva­do del Toli­ma is actu­al­ly a vol­cano, so as you can imag­ine the views inside and from the peak are pret­ty epic. Don’t wor­ry, though, it hasn’t erupt­ed in over 3,000 years.