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Travel Journal: Páramo de Ocetá

TravelLauren Engel1 Comment
LTC Paramo de Oceta

While traveling through Colombia, my boyfriend and I spent a few days at Finca San Pedro in Sogamoso on our way from Salento to San Gil. Snuggled in the Andes mountains the Ffinca was quiet, relaxing and surrounded by beautiful landscape. One of the highlights in this area is a hike to the Páramo de Ocetá. This Páramo is considered one of the most beautiful places in the world and boasts plants only found in this kind of high altitude microclimate. We woke up early on a cold drizzly day and caught the bus to a tiny town called Mongui to meet up with our guide, Maria. Over coffee and arepas, she mapped out the route we would be taking to see the Páramo. The plan was to start the hike in a smaller town called Mongua, pass by la Laguna Negra (Black Lagoon), climb to the highest point of the Páramo and then descend back into Monguí. After breakfast we were dropped off in Mongua and started the hike up a dirt road.

LTC Paramo de Oceta 1

As we walked, Maria told us about the Muisca people that inhabit the area and their history. We passed by farmers and locals walking down the road and received many confused looks. Tourism has begun to grow in the adorable town of Mongui, however very few tourists have come to Mongua to-date. As we climbed in elevation, we saw less and less farms and more plants that are indigenous to the Páramo.

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The trail to Laguna Negra was wet and muddy but pretty easy. We walked around the lagoon and stopped above it to admire a small waterfall and the deep dark color of the lagoon.  The black water was a sharp contrast against the low white mist that hung over the lake. The rain came down harder as we continued up the mountain and our trail got more and more saturated and eventually turned into a small river. 

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Though it was pouring and frigid out, it was impossible not to admire the incredibly beautiful landscape and vegetation that surrounded us. Between the rain and the cold temperature our legs were soaked and numb. I could have run up that mountain because I literally couldn’t feel anything.  From the top we looked down at where the lagoon used to be - now a thick white blanket of mist. We walked along the ridge for a while through a sea of frailejón (plants that look like they’re from a Dr. Seuss book). We started our descent sloshing through the knee high river formerly known as our trail, both of us grateful to have a guide, otherwise we would be completely lost. The next couple of hours were a bit of a blur as we sloshed through the Páramo.

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After seven hours of hiking we were back on a dirt road and had Mongui in site. The sun was finally out and warming up our soaked, numb bodies. We passed by a house on the outskirts of town were a group of Colombians were having a BBQ in the yard. One of them recognized Maria and they all came over to greet us. They were visiting Mongui from Bogota for the long weekend. As we chat they offered us a shot of whiskey, the perfect way to commemorate the hike we had just accomplished.  We hugged our new friends goodbye and made our way into town, ready to peel off our wet clothes and enjoy a hot shower and large meal.
This was one of the most challenging hikes I’ve ever done, but so rewarding and worth every minute.  One of my best travel memories!