- Beach / Seaside Resort
- Nature Reserve / Wildlife Observation / Safari
- Hiking / Trekking
The Sierra Nevada is a huge chain of mountains, covered by tropical rainforest. It stretches across 17,000km² and is found in northern Columbia, in the Andean Cordillera, close to the Caribbean Sea. You can see the Pico Simón Bolívar and the Pico Cristóbal Colón from the town of Santa Marta; their summits pierce through the thick mists that blanket the rainforest.
I had the chance to travel around the range when I visited the Lost City as well as the amazing Tayrona National Park, by the Caribbean Sea. This mountainous region is famous for its incredible biodiversity. You'll spot monkeys, parrots and other colourful birds in zone that boasts a rich and varied plantlife. That's without mentioning the indigenous communities who live in the area!
The Sierra Nevada is a great place for hiking and swimming, thanks to the Cesar and Ranchería Rivers and numerous waterfalls. There are also coffee plantations that you can tour. The two downsides of this region are the mosquitoes and the humidity. So make sure you take all precautions before venturing into this spectacular region.
Something we should just mention is that although it is possible to make day trips to this area, we personally opted to spend a whole week here.
To begin with, we set out from the town of El Cocuy with the local area's milk farmer. He dropped us at a point three hours walk from the first of the cabins that you can stay at, which you're actually advised to do in order to acclimatise to the high altitude (3,500 metres). After an afternoon spent walking the shores of some beautiful lakes, we set off on the climb up to the high-altitude bivouac zone (at around 4,600 metres). What then followed were three days spent isolated from the rest of the world, with just the wild, untamed nature to keep us company.
The lunar landscapes of the high mountain tops and the improbably blue lakes amongst them look out here over quite stunning valleys where vegetation dare only timidly show its face.
To be absolutely honest with you, the fact we set off on this trip in the cold season (May and June) made it really very tough going. And though temperatures are less severe in December and February, that doesn't necessarily mean the paths and trails are any easier, nor prevent them from being unmarked in various places. Though we lacked some of the equipment needed to combat the cold, we can still honestly say that it was all worth the effort in the end and that the Sierra Nevada definitely turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip to Colombia.