Cocuy National Park
After being closed for 18 months, the park re-opened in spring 2017, but only for day-trips. There are 3 available treks, each of 8-11 hours and quite challenging. Sleeping is not allowed in the park anymore, and it is mandatory for everyone to go with a guide!
You'll probably want to spend a day or two in one of these villages organizing your trip to the national park. The registration fee is quite steep, and you pay per registration; not per day in the park. Thus, if you want to do all 3 different treks, you'll be smart to register all of them at once. Don't plan back-to-back day trips unless you're a very experienced hiker, though: most people will need a full day of restitution.
The price for a guide and for transportation is fixed. Hence, it's much cheaper if you can find other hikers to split the fee. Each guide can take up to 6 people. A guide usually costs $100,000 pr day and transportation to and from the park up to $200,000!
As the treks take you to altitudes as high as 4,800 metres it is highly advised to spend a full day at one of the cabañas right outside the park to prevent altitude sickness. Many travellers have learned the hard way how difficult it can be to rise form the 2,800 metre altitude of the village to almost 5K in the park in just one day.
Guides and agencies in Cocuy and Güican are quite unorganized and likely won't properly prepare you for just how challenging the treks are and how high altitudes you will reach. You can try to seek out more experienced guides, but don't set your expectations too high.
The Sierra is located in the eastern part of the park and is the main tourist attraction. It is a mountain range streching north to south that contains several snow covered peaks. The western part of the park is low lands tropical forest all the way to the Llanos region and is off limit to tourism because of absence of tracks and guerilla presence.
Failerones, tipical of paramo landscapes. Cojines, swamp bushes endemic to the park.
Bear, deers (south part of the park), pumas, condors (north of the park) and rabbits.
Rainy and cloudy most of the year. Best time for trekking: December to 1. part of March. Above 4000 meter there may be snow anytime
You need to register with the park offices either in El Cocuy or in Güicán. Entrance fee is 49,000 COP for foreigners, 24,500 COP for Colombians and 12,000 COP for students and kids between 5 and 12. If you go in the park without a guide, you'll have to tell the rangers how long you plan to be in the sierra. Make sure to check in with the office again once you've exited the park safely or rescue teams will be launched to look for you.
The cheapest option to reach the park is the milktruck or lechero (10,000 COP). It leaves Güicán at 5:30 am everyday, reaches El Cocuy around 6 am and then goes up towards the Sierra to collect milk before going back to Güicán. It can drop you at various location close to the cabanas. If you miss the milktruck or get to town late, you can hire a private car to drive you up there but this is a much more expensive option (at least 80,000 COP).
However, although the lechero is the cheapest way of getting up to the park, it can't take you back down, as it only runs in the morning. This means you'll either have to arrange costly private transport or stay a night in the cabañas to take the lechero back down the next day. If you go on trips in groups of 4-6 people, paying to drive with your guide might not be all that much more expensive.