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[/et_pb_fullwidth_header][/et_pb_section][et_pb_section admin_label=”section”][et_pb_row admin_label=”row”][et_pb_column type=”1_2″][et_pb_testimonial admin_label=”Testimonial” author=”Rohan Ayers – Minstead, Hampshire, England” url_new_window=”off” quote_icon=”on” use_background_color=”on” background_color=”#f5f5f5″ background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”left” quote_icon_color=”#000000″ use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”]
We arrived on the Friday evening in preparation for an early Saturday start.
We took a Jeep up to the entrance to Flora and Fauna Sanctuary Otun-Quimbaya where we stayed in a beautiful very well maintained nature lodge in the middle of the cloud forest. Here we were treated to good simple wholesome country food and a very comfortable warm bed.
We got up early for a bird watching tour with a local expert as our guide. Luckily we managed to see a group of monkeys and several endemic birds and specialities including the local but abundant Red-ruffed Fruitcrow. After a filling breakfast we made our way up to the beginning of the trail. Several hours of hiking later through pristine Andean jungle passing raging rivers and beautiful waterfalls we emerged into a clearing containing an array of local flowers and shrubs, the site of our second lodge. Although considerably smaller it was no less comfortable and the food was delicious. In the evening we sat around their circular fireplace on a mountain of cushions with several glasses of red wine.
A spectacular day beginning in thick Andean jungle and ending on the edge of the Páramo whilst passing through all the different ecosystems in between. As you walk up it is amazing to see the subtle changes in the flora and fauna all the while noting the incredible biodiversity this area is blessed with. Not to mention several spectacular views up and down the valley. As the altitude increases the vegetation little by little begins to thin out and the height of gradually reduces to something approaching bonsai size. Finally after a very long but satisfying day of hiking we arrived at El Bosque – a small school located in the centre of a scattered hamlet containing a handful of small farmhouses. We camped in a clearing in front of the school with the altitude now approaching 3,700m so obviously the facilities were basic however they are more than adequate and the views were magical not to mention the stars at night.
We made an early start in order to walk up to the Páramo and on the way we passed through elven forest which is literally like something out of The Lord of The Rings. Small old twisted and gnarled trees that seem to have been there for an eternity. After a final climb the terrain opened out into an otherworldly hilly plateau of Páramo. Consisting of unique endemic palms and shrubs with the backdrop of the snow-capped peak of ‘el Nevado de Santa Isabel’. We then descended back to the school for a late breakfast and then onto the trail where we had a jeep waiting to take us back to civilisation.
All in all beautiful scenery, well organised and planned trip, great food, comfy beds, red wine, chocolate and fresh mountain air. What more could you ask for. I would definitely recommend The Colombian Project and will be using them again in the future for sure.
[/et_pb_testimonial][et_pb_testimonial admin_label=”Testimonial” author=”Mike Zahorik – Chicago, USA” url_new_window=”off” quote_icon=”on” use_background_color=”on” background_color=”#f5f5f5″ background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”left” quote_icon_color=”#000000″ use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”]
In March of 2011 I booked a trip with The Colombian Project to visit a small town in Colombia called Salento with my son. Prior to the trip I was a bit skeptical about traveling in Colombia because all of the negative press that it has received in the past, but thanks to the people of The Colombian Project I was able to put these worries aside and enjoy my trip.
On the first day, we took a horseback ride through the Valle de Cocora and admired the completely unique landscape. I’ll never forget the 100+ foot palm trees jutting out of the lush mountainside- it looked like something out of a Disney movie. At night we enjoyed great music and food at one of the town’s local restaurants. The food was delicious and the ambiance was relaxed and fun. Not only did I feel safe at all times, but the locals made me feel welcome. The town was picturesque, with colorful facades on nearly all of the buildings, and beautiful landscape in every direction.
I recommend The Colombian Project without reservation. They were friendly and organized, taking care of all of the arrangements so I didn’t have to worry about anything except enjoying myself. They were also extremely attetntive, checking in frequently to make sure that I was satisfied with their service. I was impressed by how knowledgeable and professional they were, giving detailed responses to all of my questions about the trip. This really made me feel secure about the trip.
[/et_pb_testimonial][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”1_2″][et_pb_testimonial admin_label=”Testimonial” author=”David Procter – Manchester, England” url_new_window=”off” quote_icon=”on” use_background_color=”on” background_color=”#f5f5f5″ background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”left” quote_icon_color=”#000000″ use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”]
Our trekking adventure started on a Friday evening, arriving smoothly to our first night’s accommodation, about an hour from the city of Pereira. Sleeping at 1,800m was colder than I expected but the refuge style accommodation was warm and pleasant with shared twin rooms, together with a private bathroom and hot water. We enjoyed a simple but tasty evening meal before retiring to our beds, ready for the following 3 action-packed days.
We woke up early on Saturday morning for a filling hot breakfast and then went for a gentle walk to make the most of the excellent bird watching conditions, also being lucky enough to spot a group of red howler monkeys in the trees above us basking on the branches in the warm sunlight. We then made our way to start the main trek up to ‘El Bosque’ at 3,600m and then onto the Páramo a little higher up. Covering approximately 6km in 2 hours, climbing gently to ‘La Pastora’ at 2,450m, we reached the second night’s accommodation, an excellent mountain hut style refuge that served tasty, heart-warming food and had a cosy campfire that gave us a good spot to rest before retiring to our rooms ready for the next day. The view from the dining room of the local imposing waterfall was spectacular and only added to the secluded Andean mountain experience.
Another hot breakfast started the day well and we left the refuge to begin our 12km trek up the valley, crossing rivers, and witnessing the changes in flora and fauna as the altitude increased. The path was easy to follow and a bit steep in places, but the local ‘campesinos’ who go up and down each day made nice conversation and one farm even provided some hot agua panela to keep us fuelled up. The thinning air made the trekking more strenuous and it also got noticeably colder as we entered the clouds. A filling pasta meal that night at 3,600m was very welcome to help us recover from the day’s exertions.
On the final day we set off early from ‘El Bosque’ to reach the Páramo, under clear blue skies and with stunning views west to the Cauca Valley. To reach it we had to trek through Tolkien-esque scenery which could have come straight from a scene from ‘The Hobbit,’ and then witness the big change in the flora that the Páramo brings at 3,900m. Trees are replaced for bizarre looking spiky cactus like stumps, about which our tour leader, Juan, explained to us that these were the famed ‘Frailejones’ that define the páramo. It was then time to head back down the mountain, luckily with gravity on our side, stopping off at the La Pastora refuge again for another hot lunch, and then back to the waiting vintage Land Rover at the start of the road.
Altogether, the trek was well organised, the food was fresh, tasty and filling and Juan was reassuring and knowledgeable. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this specific trek to other friends and I’d also fully endorse The Colombian Project as a well-run organisation who give their clients exactly what they aim to do, a genuine mountain experience in the remote and beautiful Colombian Andes.