​Cocuy National Park – Sierra Nevada del Cocuy – bad news for hikers and trekkers

As some of us may already known Cocuy National Park, also known as Sierra Nevada del Cocuy is listed in best treks / hikes of the world. It is still not so much known and not very crowded, and soooo beautiful.

Having read all these reviews and seeing pictures we set on a very loong and unnerving route from san San Gil to Guican. 

As you can see on the enclosed map the distance doesn’s tell how long and unnerving it is. 

As there is no direct route from San Gil we were instructed to go via Tunja and Duitama. Having reached Tunja after 5 hours we were informed at the terminal that there is only one service provider from there and leaves at 5:30 pm. We were assured there, that there is absolutely no point in going to Duitama as we will wait there for the same bus, as there is no other service that would not go for Tunja and goes for Duitama. As we were concerned about the late departure hour we got assured that the bus will reach Guican around 11pm. More, there will be a wifi on the bus an plugs so we can book our accommodation on the way. Unhappy, we got the ticket from Expreso Paz de Rio S.A. and waited till 5:30pm.

Fortunately our bus left on time. Our spirits went a bit higher as we boarded the bus. Soon after though, it turned out that there is no promised WIFI and plugs on board. Again with our spirits low we drove into the night hoping that we will reach the village early enough to find some accommodation. With passing hours though we got more and more concerned as our GPS showed that our progress was not so great. The hour was late and the salsa music was pounding on the bus. We have finally reached Guican around 2:30 am, the music stopped around one hour earlier. If it was’t for the earplugs we would not sleep a minute.

As it was easy to foreseen all hotels were locked-up dead. With a help of our driver we found an accommodation and fallen asleep … to wake up to not so good news…

With half the morning of heavy rain we were stuck in th room with no internet. Just waiting for it to stop. Once it did we went for a search of the Park Office to find out a little bit more about the weather conditions and possible accommodation/camping in the park. And that is were we found out about it:

From April 2017 there are new regulations in the park – it is being converted into reserve due to the petition of the indigenous people living there, and therefore:

  • camping is no longer allowed in the park,

  • guides are required on all the routes – count about 100,000cop per day (apart from 58,000cop of entrance fee and 7,000cop of obligatory insurance – as for early June 2017),

  • most of the trails are closed to tourists (including the 5-day circuit one),

  • you cannot touch the snow, you can only watch it (that is exactly how the park Official said it) – so it means you can’t climb the peaks anymore,

  • there is a restricted number of people that can enter the trail at once.
    Literally what we are left with are just 3 linear trails that one can make in one day each (you have to return the same way!) and for those 3 you need a guide! You also need to register to enter the park.

More info here.

Honestly, if we had known it before, we would save ourselves the trouble, time and nerves in coming here at all. We did not come here to be babysat by guides on he paths that can be found on maps.me! 

And all those beautiful closed trails… We had to cancel all our plans about our trek in the park….

What a shame! Those beautiful mountains full of amazing treks are now nearly entirely closed to the public…

We wish, we ad come here just 2 months earlier…

Footnote: 

after speaking to some locals/indigenous we found out they seem to be happy that less tourist will come to see the park. We wonder how long for…

Footnote 2: 

we also found out that there are 4 bus companies serving Guican. This means we were laid 3 times by Expreso Paz de Rio S.A.  (the time it reaches the town, the service on board and their exclusiveness to this route. Impresionante!

If you are planning trekking and hiking in Cucoy National Park check the official park webpage for the latest regulations. If you find out that the park re-opens, please leave the comment below.

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