Seen from a birds-eye view, the Sierra Nevada de Güicán, El Cocuy y Chita looks like a rosary of white pearls shining under the blazing sun of the Andes. It is the largest glacier mass in Colombia, with more than 25 snow and ice peaks within two mountain ranges of approximately 30 kilometers long and 4 wide. The succession of snow peaks in the Park (from 4,800 to 5,330 MASL) starts with Campanillas Blanco and continues with the Pan de Azúcar, Púlpito del Diablo, Cóncavos, Ritakuwas and Güicán, among others, forming a line that points to the Grande de los Verdes lagoon. Among the 150 lagoons of the Park that enrich the Sierra’s water supply, it is worth mentioning La Plaza lagoon, that drains into a waterfall; the Avellanal and Grande lagoons, the latter stands out for its vivid colors and its extension of 35 hectares. The protected area also has páramo and a strip of Andean forest and jungle, which are habitat to a great diversity of fauna and flora.
- The Sierra Nevada de Güicán, El Cocuy y Chita is a sacred place to the Uwa indigenous community. The area of the indigenous reserve is closed to tourism, which is why circulation on the eastern side of the Park is prohibited. Likewise, the trail known as “TOUR AROUND LA SIERRA” is closed and Boquerón de Cardenillo at the north as well as Boquerón de Cusirí at the south are the limiting points that can be reached in acclimatization hikes.
- Visiting the Park by horse is prohibited; this can entail penalties and/or fines of up to 5 current minimum legal salaries. Horses bite and step on frailejones and other plants, they broaden the paths and contaminate the water sources of local populations.
- Before entering the protected area, all visitors must get Rescue and Assistance Insurance for the duration of the stay in the Park. Insurance can be bought in El Cocuy and Güicán municipalities. “The requirement of a rescue and assistance insurance policy does not make Parques Nacionales Naturales de Colombia responsible for the acquisition and execution of the insurance contract, and risks that may occur during the stay in the protected area are assumed by the visitor according to the terms established in Article 25 in Decree 622 of 1977”.
- All visitors entering the Park must register in person at the park offices and receive the obligatory introductory talk to ensure appropriate behavior in the protected area to minimize impact to the ecosystems and, in this way, collaborate with conservation efforts.
- Due to physical demands and altitude, minors under 10 years old cannot enter the Park. Additionally, we don’t recommend the climbs for people with physical disabilities, heart or respiratory problems, pregnant women or senior citizens.
Registration offices and hours:
- El Cocuy: Calle 5 # 4-22. Monday – Sunday, 7am – 11:45am and 1pm – 4:45pm. Tel: (57 8) 789 0359
- Güicán: Transversal 4a # 6-60. Monday – Sunday, 7am – 11:45am and 1pm – 4:45pm. Tel: (57 8) 789 7280
- Tame (Arauca): Carrera 22 # 15-04. Monday – Friday, 8am – 11:45am and 2pm – 4:45pm. Tel: (57 7) 888 6054
- Bucaramanga: Northeastern Andes Territorial Directorate. Avenida Quebrada Seca # 30-12. Monday – Friday, 8am – 12pm and 2pm – 6pm. Tel: (57 8) 645 4868/634 5251
- Bogotá: User Services at Parques Nacionales Naturales. Calle 74 # 11-81. Monday – Friday, 8:30am – 5:30pm. Tel: (57 1) 353 2400, Ext. 3011, 3012
Registration cannot be done in the control points of Ritacuba, La Esperanza or Lagunillas. If you reach the control points without having registered, you will be asked to return to the Park offices in Güicán or El Cocuy.
Authorized trails and their camping areas:
|Lagunillas and Boquerón del Cusirí (acclimatization)||Sisuma
|Laguna Grande de la Sierra and connections||Cueva del Hombre
|Ritacubas and Boquerón del
RECCOMENDATIONS AND RULES
- Extracting fauna, flora and minerals from the park is prohibited since it negatively affects the integrity of the ecosystems.
- Consumption of alcoholic beverages and psychoactive substances inside the protected area is prohibited.
- Do not alter, modify or remove signs, notices, billboards or boundary stones, nor damage Park facilities or equipment meant for your safety and comfort.
- Hunting or disturbing the Park’s wild animals is prohibited.
- Camp only in designated places.
- Camping and sliding on the glacier is prohibited as well as making snow figures.
- Avoid making noise that disturbs nature and other visitors.
- Be careful with camping stoves and cigarette buts that can cause fires and destroy vegetation and fauna habitat.
- Try to arrive a day or more before the climb so you can acclimatize to the altitude in order to avoid altitude sickness, which can even cause death.
- Walk only in authorized trails.
- Keep the garbage generated during your visit and take it with you when you leave the protected area, including biodegradable substances.