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.
I spent the night at the hostal El Caminante where I asked Marta to be my guide for the Púlpito de diablo trail. As there were no other people to make up a group to share the costs, I had to pay Marta the going guide fee of 140.000 COP. The insurance for each day is 7000 COP and the park permit is 71000 COP.
Marta and I got a ride up to the trail head the next morning, leaving El Cocuy at 5am. We started the hike at 6.30am and finished at 3pm. Then I walked another 2 hours to Hacienda la Esperanza. The hike itself is beautiful but at the same time demanding. There is a 1000m altitude gain from the town to Púlpito de diablo which is at 4800m. The last part is steep and I had to take many short breaks to catch my breath. But it was all worth it.
I stayed two nights at La Espero with the wonderful Flor and her husband Jorge taking care of me. The next day I walked into the Valley de Frailejones which are a feature of the paramo. I was the only soul in the park and enjoyed every minute. From the valley one could see the Púlpito and the pan de azúcar.
On my last day, I walked from La Esperanza to the beautiful little mountain community of Guican. It's only about 10km but I took 4 hours (taking wrong turns twice and sitting down to admire the scenery).