Coffee Lands of Colombia, Medellin & Bogota (2)

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South America » Colombia » Manizales
January 15th 2011
Published: February 12th 2011EDIT THIS ENTRY

After new years, the last of our travelling guests flew out of Colombia, leaving Patty and I to continue with our travels. During our trip to the coffee lands (a few weeks earlier), our guide for the day in the Cocora Valley had told us about a 6 day trek in early January that he was organizing through the nearby national park, Parque de los Nevados (park of snow peaked mountains), taking a group of 6 people from Medellin, that were putting together a documentary on the area. Patty was immediately interested as the guide was very enthusiastic about the trip, so we negotiated with him to also go along on the trip. So as everyone flew out, Patty and I flew back to the coffee lands, sleeping overnight in Salento, a small town near the national park, before commencing the trek the following day.

The following day we met the rest of the group, which ended up being two Spaniards and two Colombians living in Bogota. Alarm bells started ringing at this point, as we found out that none of them were from Medellin, or doing a documentary, as our guide had told us. We started our trek, and as the day progressed, we find out more and more inconsistencies with what our guide had told us, the most problematic one being we had organised for him to supply all our food while on the trek, yet we found out when we stopped for lunch that he has brought nothing for us! Luckily, the rest of the group had organised a different package with our guide, and had brought their own food, and so they graciously volunteered to share their food with us. We had some of their lunch on the first day, but vowed to talk with our guide later that evening to have a go at the guy. That evening we stayed at a local’s primitive farm house in the national park, and there Patty set our guide straight regarding the food, where upon he agreed to take some additional food from the farm to provide us with something to eat over the coming days. As each new day unfolded, we continued to catch our guide out with all sorts of lies, and we came to the conclusion that he was a habitual liar, because he couldn’t say two sentences without lying! We also discovered he didn’t even know his way around the national park, with us having to wait a number of times for our donkey driver (who was carrying our clothes and camping gear) to catch up with us to show us the way! The guide (if you can call him that) was an absolute nightmare the entire trip!

Luckily our travelling companions were a great group, all fluent in English, and we had an awesome time getting to know them over the 6 days. The national park was also spectacular, trekking at around 4000m above sea level with stunning views of three of the most famous snow capped volcanoes in Colombia, lots of lagoons and lakes, and mountains covered in unique varieties of vegetation, the most common one being across between a cactus and palm tree, called a frailejon, which peppered the landscape. We slept at farm houses on two of the nights, with the rest sleeping in our tents. Each of the camp sites offered wonderful views, including one site that even had a hot water spring that we got to soak away some of the aches and pains of the day for a few hours.

Anecdote: Its amazing how small the world can be, and we found this out upon our arrival at a small cabin high up in the national park, where our trek ended. All grubby and tired after walking 25 kilometres on our final day, be trudged into the cabin and dumped our bags on the floor. Next thing I know, a guy who had been sitting down at a table in the cabin, has approached Patty with a big hug and kiss on the cheeck. They then start jabbering away in Spanish and laughing. After a bit of the excitement has passed, I get introduced and find out that he is a Colombian friend of Patty’s that she had met while living in Townsville, and hadn’t seen in more than 8 years. Even funnier, thanks to facebook, he knew we had just been married and were on our honeymoon having already seen some of the photos!

This trek brought to a close the South American part of our trip, and from here we fly on to New York, Canada and finally Japan to complete the final couple of months of our world trip. Until our next update!

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