Güicán Travel Guide

  • Nuestra Senora de la Candelaria's pretty interior
    Nuestra Senora de la Candelaria's pretty...
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  • home to the dark-skinned Madonna
    home to the dark-skinned Madonna
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  • amazing what some sun & paint can do
    amazing what some sun & paint can do
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Güicán Things to Do

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    by richiecdisc Written Aug 31, 2010

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    Güicán lacks the colonial charm of El Cocuy with its original buildings having been ravaged by assorted calamities, but the town has painted their otherwise lackluster buildings in colorful fashion and it makes for a nice enough place to stroll around. The key feature is Nuestra Senora de la Candelaria with its faux marble exterior. Again, not nearly as pretty as El Cocuy's main square church from the outside, its interior is impressive and more elaborate. It also is home to the Virgen Morenita de Güicán, perhaps the main reason to come to Güicán. This dark-skinned Virgin Mary helped the indigenous people convert to Christianity. There is a festival in its honor in early February.

    Nuestra Senora de la Candelaria's pretty interior
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    by richiecdisc Written Aug 31, 2010

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    The Monumento a la Dignidad for me was the most interesting thing about Güicán. We saw it on the bus into town as it sits likes a sentinel at its entrance from the main road. While D was taking a nap, I marched out to grab a few photos of it after reading of it storied history. The local U'wa were being forced to convert to Christianity and their chief, Güicány, led them in mass suicide by jumping off a surrounding cliff. The rather large and impressive sculpture is quite moving and makes the story of the Virgen Morenita more interesting as well.

    Monumento a la Dignidad
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  • Güicán Hotels

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Güicán Restaurants

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    by richiecdisc Written Aug 31, 2010

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    Brisas del Nevado is the best restaurant in Güicán and though that is not saying much, it is a very nice place for a meal. It is also likely the nicest place to stay and in the unlikely event that I ever go back to Güicán, it is the place I would stay. We did check out the rooms and they were nice and comfy looking. Our guide had quoted 15000 COP (about $7.50) per person but I believe it had gone up 20000 COP so we opted for the cheaper and far less nice Hotel El Frailejon which turned out to be not only a bad move but a critical mistake. The restaurant is a cute little place just off the owner's kitchen and she very nicely made us a meal even though she was probably not expecting to cook that night as the town was empty. So, we had the place to ourselves and it felt like someone's Mom making you a home-cooked meal.

    Favorite Dish: We both had trucha or trout. It is a specialty of these mountain towns and of very nice quality. We could hear her preparing it from our table and you could tell she knew what she was doing just from the sound. The meal was lovely. The trucha was perfectly cooked and came with simple but tasty potatoes in a home fry style. A simple tomato salad accompanied it with a very tasty and obviously home-made dressing. We rounded it out with an Aguilla beer as she explained that was the one she had cold in the fridge. It was the first cold beer we had since Bogota and went well with the fish. We paid 33000 COP (about $17) for the very nice meal and really wished we could have just gone upstairs to our room rather than walk back to our dingy room at Hotel El Frailejon.

    trucha
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Güicán Transportation

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    by richiecdisc Written Aug 31, 2010

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    Güicán is about 40 minutes from the town of El Cocuy on the local Cootradatil bus which costs 3000 COP (about $1.50). It's a scenic drive best done during the day. If coming by Bogota, it is an hour longer than the 11 hour opus to El Cocuy because the bust stops in El Cocuy first and must unload/load before continuing on to Güicán. We paid 45000 COP (about $23) to El Cocuy so my guess is one to Güicán would be 50000 COP. Personally, I would stay in El Cocuy but depending on the direction of your planned trek, Güicán can be more convenient. It is also possible to walk right from town into the park though it will add another day to your trek which certainly will not hurt your acclimatization

    the first thing you see coming in by bus
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Güicán Favorites

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    by richiecdisc Written Aug 31, 2010

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    Fondest memory: We talked about it amongst ourselves and decided we did not want to be taken advantage of. I asked for the keys to the room and we went up and laid in the room, me fuming over the owner's ruination of our second trek just to get a kick back on the ride he figured was our only way into the mountains that day. We re-checked when the bus was leaving for El Cocuy and re-packed from trekking size to the journey back there. About 15 minutes prior to departure, we marched downstairs and said goodbye. When he asked where were going, I answered in English. I don't know enough Spanish to get such points across but explained that we were not going to do the trek after all. We had already done the biggest and best trek in the park and that this was just an extra one. We were only going to do it because it would not cost us much doing it by the milk truck route. If we were going to have to shell out $80 for a ride to the refugio, it was just not going to happen. I added that now we would not be coming back to his hotel since the trek was being aborted, that we would not eat there again either. I was hinting at the money he had lost by being greedy and trying to make money on our transportation too. I was heated but not overly so. My anger was apparent but not overwhelming. I'm not sure exactly how much he understood but he got the gist of what I was saying and the look of disappointment was obvious on his face. We walked over to where the bus, got on and drove out of town surely to never return again.

    the road into town goes out too
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    by richiecdisc Written Aug 31, 2010

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    Fondest memory: Once back at our place, we readied our packs for the following morning and gave the owner our extra bag, re-confirming that El Lechero left from the town square literally right out front and that we would be leaving the hotel well before dawn. With that, he locked us in behind a big metal door and we suddenly questioned our sanity in staying there just to save a few bucks. He had explained how to get out of the building but it was tricky and with little time the next morning, we fumbled a bit in getting out. Even with the metal door factor, we were still out there well before El Lechero was to make its rounds according to our host. We waited....and waited....and waited. I saw a pair of headlights heading towards us but it was not the milk truck but a small four-wheel drive. He asked us if we needed a ride into the mountains and we said we were waiting for El Lechero. He made is way around to our hotel which was now open so we went over as well to find out from the owner what had happened with the milk truck. He said we were waiting in the wrong spot, that El Lechero left from the road just outside of town. We told him that was not what he had told us and he sheepishly and not very convincingly said he had not. Conveniently, his friend was here to give us a ride into the mountains. The only catch was that it was about eight times the price. (concluded below in Fondest Memory)

    Nuestra Senora de la Candelaria's pretty interior
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    by richiecdisc Written Aug 31, 2010

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    Fondest memory: Logistically, it made most sense to do begin the trek from the nearby town of Güicán. It was reported to lack much of the charm of its competing neighbor, El Cocuy and to be a cold, gray city on top of that. Getting back there after the short trek by El Lechero or the milk truck would be easier and we figured why not check out another town. El Cocuy, for all its charms, was growing a bit boring after so many days there. It was a short inexpensive bus ride there and the town turned out to be a very colorful affair, helped surely by the sunny blue skies that seemed to be following us everywhere in Colomiba. We check out the more upscale place in town and though very nice, it was pricey so we decided to save our money for dinner and get a room in the local cheapie. It was going to be a short night anyway since we would be catching El Lechero at some ungodly early hour.

    Hotel El Frailejon was a typical South American budget hotel and maybe a few steps down from that but the owner seemed nice if a bit odd. It was quite cheap and we ate lunch there. It was made us appreciate the food back in El Cocuy which in itself was no culinary tour de force. The room was tiny but again we would not be spending too much time in it and the owner had agreed to keep our bags until we returned from the three-day trek. Doreen was exhausted and took advantage of a very sunny warm room to take a nap and I explored the surprisingly cute little town. We later went for dinner at the more expensive Hotel Brisas del Nevado and had a great meal of trucha (trout) and potatoes. It was not cheap but was of very good quality and considering the remote location I guess not all that expensive. It was a much nicer place than ours and we kind of wished we had spent the extra money to stay there. The owner was a very classy older woman and it would have been nice to leave our extra gear with her with not a care in the world about it. (continued below in Fondest Memory)

    strolling the streets of G��ic��n
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