Cocuy Hotels

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  • Reviews: 5881

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Laguna Pintada: a nice way to end our trek with creature comforts

Our last night of the trek was spent at Cabanas Laguna Pintada. For me, it was a bit anti-climatic. I wasn't sure if it was the idea that I had missed camping at Lagunillas or that nothing could compare to the morning we had at Laguna de la Plaza. For my wife, the cabanas were a sight for sore eyes and legs. It is a charming little place set in about a pretty a setting as you could imagine.

The have dorm beds but for us, a double was the only option. After spending five nights in the wilderness, sharing our space was out of the question. The little room was cozy if cold and though we could not cook in the kitchen, there was ample room outside for me to use my stove. The very sweet owner suggested I used it in the building as it was cold out but I didn't want to burn the place down and I was used to cooking outside and in the cold at that point. It was nice enough that we could sit inside at a real table to eat it! Doreen did get her shower albeit a cold one. We were still not really back in civilization but she was happy to be clean if cold. I opted to wait one more day for such pleasure.

We paid 60,000 COP (about $30) for the room which is certainly pricey but in this remote an area and being so close to such splendor it is a good option for those not into trekking or camping. They offer meals as well and the food sure smelled good but then again, after six days of dehydrated meals just about anything would smell good! There are also some nice looking hiking trails in the area though at this point, hiking was the last thing on our minds!

  • Opinion of Price: about average
  • Related to: Romantic Travel and Honeymoons, Backpacking
  • Written August 29, 2010
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a very scenic setting

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  • richiecdisc profile photo richiecdisc
  • Reviews: 5881

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Lagunillas: looked nice but we skipped it

Lagunillas is a lovely chain of lakes and was to be our last camping area of the trek but with a strong wind blowing and my wife sensing rain, we pushed just a little further in hopes of staying inside and getting a much deserved shower. The lakes did look very inviting and there were ample good places to camp. It had been a relatively easy hike to get there though it did involve our last pass at 4500m. It was still early so we could have easily enjoyed staying there if it were not for the idea that we were might be pushing our luck.

  • Opinion of Price: least expensive
  • Related to: Backpacking, National/State Park, Camping
  • Written August 29, 2010
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a nice string of lakes & camps


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  • richiecdisc profile photo richiecdisc
  • Reviews: 5881

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Laguna de la Plaza: a sandy patch of luck

Laguna de la Plaza was one stunning place to camp and even with all the hype the first glimpse of it did not disappoint but getting to the actual camping area was another story. Even though we were “only” coming from Laguna del Panuelo, it had been a long day. In fact, when we passed Laguna Hoja Larga late in the afternoon, it was tempting to stay there but extra days were not an option at this point as our food supply was dwindling fast. It was another hour before we first saw our destination. Little did we know how long it would take to get there. You see, Laguna de la Plaza is one very big lake and as with most terrain in Colombia the land surrounding it is anything but flat. Though we noticed areas to camp on the first shore of the lake, they were quite far down from where we were and we wanted not only to get around the lake to make the next day easier but also to avoid having to climb back out of such a predicament first thing the next morning! The “walk” around the lake was not any easier with lots of climbing over rocky ledges, often using trees to hoist ourselves and our ever heavier packs up. It went on forever and after about two hours I saw a small area of sand amongst an entirely rocky terrain otherwise unsuitable for camping. This would have likely been little more than a small pool of water under normal conditions but during this extremely dry spell of weather, it had evaporated entirely leaving this “camping spot” available. It was close to the lake's shore and I surmised it would be a great place for sunrise. Actually, I was just too exhausted to walk another step no matter how far or close the real camping area was and was not ready to look this gift horse in the mouth. We set up quickly as again it was getting late and after a meal and a cursory exploration of the lake shore on a crisp clear cold evening, both collapsed into deep slumber.

The next morning was surreal. I awoke early and headed down to the lake, tripod in hand. As the previous evening had foretold, it was indeed a very clear morning and though freezing, I was not about to let this opportunity pass. Here was a huge lake at well over 4000m and somehow it was about as mirror-like as you could possibly hope for. Even though two sides are lined with steep mountains, the remaining two are pretty open and my guess is it is normally very windy and the water is more likely to look like an ocean than what was now before me. The tips of the mountains were just starting to glow and I waited patiently for the amber curtain to fall. That it did. As soon as I got a few good shots, I ran back up to wake my blissfully sleeping wife who joined me in disbelief at the sight before us, and the luck we had experienced on the entire trek.

We passed the real campground about ten minutes out of our little camp. I don't have to tell you it paled in comparison. Our amigos we had met earlier on the trek were there. I didn't have the heart to tell them about the sunrise or my little patch of sand. Some luck is better kept to yourself.

  • Opinion of Price: least expensive
  • Related to: National/State Park, Photography, Backpacking
  • Written August 29, 2010
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the one spot where it was possible & we found it!


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  • richiecdisc profile photo richiecdisc
  • Reviews: 5881

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Laguna del Panuelo: a much needed rest

Though in our original plan for camping, Laguna del Panuelo was certainly not in it after camping at “nearby” Laguna Rincon. This is where our hiking guide's datedness became obvious and we were glad we had spoken with the park ranger about the trail before tackling it. Indeed, there had been a huge rock slide on this pass and it was a true boulder scramble making our way down the pass. This might have been fun sans packs but with their weight on our backs, it was anything but. In fact, once we got down to the lake, we decided against all judgment to spend the night there even though it was only midday. We could not bear another seven hours to Laguna de la Plaza and the lake between the two had an uncertain water supply. The weather was perfect and we now stood at perhaps the hardest part of the trek to navigate so pushing on would have been the smart thing to do but physically we just needed a rest. We quite enjoyed the afternoon, doing very little but enjoying the scenery and lying around, resting our weary legs.

Gorgeous sunset for us but a fairly exposed area for camping and a questionable water supply make it less than ideal. That said, one of our most enjoyable days of the trek.

  • Opinion of Price: least expensive
  • Related to: Backpacking, National/State Park, Camping
  • Written August 29, 2010
Tip Photo

enlarge to see our wee tent in the rock rock glow


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Laguna del Rincon: glad we camped here

Laguna del Rincon was not in our original plan as a place to camp but one of the park's rangers said it was a great spot for the night and that the pass to the next lake had undergone a rock avalanche, leaving it a lot harder to cross than it had been previously. Again, despite a very early start, we arrived at Laguna del Rincon quite late. Part of this was due to the beauty of the Valle de los Cojines en route but also due to total exhaustion on my part. I not only wanted to stop a lot on the way, I had to. We even cooked a meal midday to conserve our dwindling snack supply! At any rate, going over the pass to the next lake was out of the question and Rincon certainly was a nice place to spend the night though quite cold once again due to its 4400m elevation. We caught a little of the sun on the peaks fringing it but none for us on the rocky shore which would have been a nice way to end our tiring day.

Another craggy peak paradise if you can get here early enough to enjoy it.

  • Opinion of Price: least expensive
  • Related to: Camping, National/State Park, Backpacking
  • Written August 29, 2010
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D packing up before the sun hits the lake


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  • richiecdisc profile photo richiecdisc
  • Reviews: 5881

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Cueva Larga: not on our itinery but looked good

Though we did not use any of the caves that dot the trek in El Cocuy National Park, it is possible to do the entire circuit without a tent if you are very fit and very well-acclimatized. They are not particularly well-spaced so a tent is something you would most likely want to have in case you could not make it from one to the next or if bad weather stopped your earlier than planned. There were three Colombian trekkers always in front of us or behind us and they did use Cueva Larga (literally Large Cave) the night we stayed at Laguna de Avellanal. In general, they slept in and got a much later start than we did but generally passed us during the day. We had passed each other a couple times on our way to Laguna de Avellanal and we were surprised when the continued on from there. We had secured a great spot and figured they were just looking for something similar. When we left early in the morning we wondered what had become of them and then we ran across them breaking down camp at Cueva Larga, quite a distance from the lake we had camped. The cave would certainly provide good shelter, especially if you had a tent with you as well but despite it being in a nice spot, it was not nearly as scenic as at the lake.

No need for tent but you better have some strong legs and lungs.

  • Opinion of Price: least expensive
  • Related to: Backpacking, National/State Park, Camping
  • Written August 29, 2010
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our new amigos in the cave


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  • Reviews: 5881

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Laguna del Avellanal: perhaps the best camping of the trek

Laguna del Avellanal was indeed the jewel of the trek and we were rewarded with a surreal sunrise on the back of Piedra Negra, that glowed red despite its moniker. Getting there was another story. This was the day I started to truly wonder if we had bitten off more than we could chew with this trek. It seemed to go at a steady and steep angle the entire day and if it had mercifully stopped at Laguna de la Isla we might have been able to manage more than an exhausted sigh of relief on arrival. But no, there was another pass to cross and the drop to the lake was equally relentless, making the descent the evening before look like child's play. Despite our early start, we got there with barely enough time to set up camp and eat a hasty dinner before the temperatures dipped into the uncomfortably freezing range. I was out a few times that night to take a pee and saw stars so close I swore I could touch them and one particularly gleaming one that I deemed my recently passed away mother helping to guide us around a circuit that indeed always seemed a notch above our heads. While there was little in the way of any evening light, the morning proved more than compensatory with one of the best sunrises of the entire trek.

Surrounded by stunning peaks with great potential for dawn photo shoot.

  • Opinion of Price: least expensive
  • Related to: Camping, National/State Park, Backpacking
  • Written August 29, 2010
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mountain splendor camp-style


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  • richiecdisc profile photo richiecdisc
  • Reviews: 5881

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Laguna de los Verdes: walking by wild horses to get here

Our first backcountry campsite was at Laguna de los Verdes, a high altitude beauty at 3900m and a welcome sight after a much longer than anticipated first day of trekking to get there. We had done one of the two passes the previous day as an acclimatization hike but it was a lot rougher going carrying our full packs. To make matters worse, the second pass was even harder and the descent seemed to take forever, bringing us to the lake at dusk, with just enough time to set up camp, cook a quick meal and pass out. So much for enjoying paradise. We did luck out and walk by a wild mare with its colt in toe en route.

  • Opinion of Price: least expensive
  • Related to: Backpacking, National/State Park, Camping
  • Written August 29, 2010
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camping amongst the frailejons


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  • richiecdisc profile photo richiecdisc
  • Reviews: 5881

3 out of 5 starsUser Rating

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Kanwara Campground: if you have your tent anyway....

A small area for tents is provided near the cabanas and though very basic, there are toilets and hot showers though neither could be called modern nor particularly clean. That said, it is better than digging a hole for the former and going without a shower for even longer than a trek will entail. Camping was not exactly cheap at 10,000 COP (about $5) per person and to make matters worse, there was no communal kitchen, something I had been hoping for. This was a real problem for us as we were using our camping stove with regular gasoline for the first time and did not know how to gauge how long it would hold up. We were unable to get white gas anywhere in Bogota despite a valiant effort. So, we only cooked one meal more or less to practice with the fuel and relegated ourselves to eating in the small restaurant that was part of the Kanwara complex.

This is a great location for doing high altitude acclimatization hikes to get ready for longer treks into the park. Even if you are not planning on longer treks, there are some very nice hikes as well as the climb of the park's highest peak. Ritacuba Blanco.

  • Opinion of Price: least expensive
  • Related to: National/State Park, Photography, Backpacking
  • Written August 29, 2010
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not a bad place to pitch your tent


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  • richiecdisc profile photo richiecdisc
  • Reviews: 5881

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Cabanas Kanwara: a high altitude taste of rustic Colombia



The original plan was to stay at Cabanas Kanwara. We knew we would be camping for over a week so the relative comfort of a cabana figured to be worth paying a little extra for. Unfortunately, prices had gone up since the last edition of our guidebook and the already pricey 25,000 COP (a bit more than $12) per person was now 35,000 COP. This would not have seemed so bad if you got a private room but it was a bunk-style A-frame. The big pluses were both a communal kitchen and bathroom including hot showers. I'm sure if we had come to this little oasis at the end of our trek, we would have opted for it.

  • Opinion of Price: less expensive than average
  • Related to: Photography, Backpacking, National/State Park
  • Written August 29, 2010
Tip Photo

a truly remote getaway


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