1,200 square miles, 17,000 foot mountains, cirques, moraines, and glacier-gouged lakes make up the wanderlust arcadia of El Cocuy National Park in Colombia. Travelers come from all over the world to experience the remote trekking and glacial heritage of this incredibly stunning park located in the Andes Mountains. Planning a trip to visit El Cocuy? […]
1,200 square miles, 17,000 foot mountains, cirques, moraines, and glacier-gouged lakes make up the wanderlust arcadia of El Cocuy National Park in Colombia. Travelers come from all over the world to experience the remote trekking and glacial heritage of this incredibly stunning park located in the Andes Mountains.
Planning a trip to visit El Cocuy? To fully experience the beauty of the park we recommend spending at minimum 3 days in the park, though the more time you have, the better. Read on to find directions to the park, popular trails, and other helpful information.
It is no doubt that one of the allures of Parque Nacional Natural El Cocuy lies within its remote location. That unfortunately means it is difficult to reach the park. To get to El Cocuy, you’ll need to first make your way to one of the two closest towns: El Cocuy or Güicán. We suggest heading to Cocuy as it offers a larger selection of restaurants and hotels.
Bogota to El Cocuy
The park is far away from all major Colombian cities and unfortunately there is no airport nearby. The best way to get to El Cocuy is via a direct bus from Bogotá. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the bus schedule in Bogotá, as the schedule is constantly changing.
To get from Bogota to El Cocuy you’ll first need to head to Section 3 in Terminal Salitre in Bogotá and purchase a ticket to El Cocuy with either the Libertadores, Expreso Paz Del Rio, or Concorde buses. Concorde tends to have more departure times. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the schedule and book in advance as the schedule is constantly changing.
From El Cocuy to the Park
The park entrance is an hour drive from the town of El Cocuy and there are three ways you can head to the park. First, you can hire a private car, which will cost around $40 USD one way. There are also public trucks, also known as Lecheros, that leave every morning from the town square at 6 am. The Lecheros cost around $3 USD per person. Lastly, if you plan to leave a bit later in the afternoon you can get a couple of new travel friends together and share a taxi for about $6 USD (per person).
While getting into the park is more or less straightforward, your visit will come with a few restrictions. The park requires that all visitors hire the services of a local guide as well as have emergency insurance for their trip.
When you hire a guide, you’ll also have to pay their entrance fee for the park; about $2.20 (7,000 COP). A typical guide in the area will cost between $31-38 USD/day and the registration office at El Cocuy or Güicán will be able to provide you with a list of approved guides.
Let us reserve transportation, guides and food so you can have a worry-free trip. Check out our Cocuy National Park Tours.
Although the 5-day hiking circuit has been closed for several years due to environmental concerns, there are still three unbelievable treks for a variety of fitness levels.
The Ritacuba Trail
Also known as “La Ruta Norte,” this trail covers 14 km of trail and heads to the edge of Ritacuba Glacier at 4,600m (~15,000 feet). Though 14 km may not seem like much, the majority of the climb is very steep, something to take into consideration if you are not accustomed to high-altitude trekking.
El Pupito Del Diablo Trail
The easiest trek of the three, the El Pupito Trail, or “La Ruta Sur,” takes hikers to the one of the park’s most admired snow-capped peaks, El Pulpito del Diablo. It’s length is 15.6 km and considered “very difficult” due to its altitude, grade and distance.
Laguna de La Sierra Trail
With a total length of over 21 km, Laguna de la Sierra is the furthest hikable point in Parque Nacional Natural El Cocuy. Not only this, but the trek to get there is very difficult, making it the toughest of all three trails.
Overall, no matter which trek you choose, you will not be disappointed by the unspoiled views and immaculate nature of El Cocuy National Park. While there, don’t forget to spend some time talking to the locals and exploring the small town of El Cocuy.
Hostal el Caminante is rated the best value in El Cocuy, customers revel in their outstanding hospitality and breathtaking location. The price for a private room is around $23 USD and you opt into a continental breakfast for only $2.50 USD.
Pinares del Carrizalito is for those looking for a little more comfort. This hotel offers an on-site restaurant with a great garden and mountain views. Prices start around $30/night; however, it fluctuates depending on the season.
Hostal Chocuy is our pick for budget backpackers. The hostel prides itself on its great location inside El Cocuy and prices start at $19/night in a shared room. Best part? Breakfast is included.
Overall, a trip to El Cocuy National Park is a journey of a lifetime. Beneath the fiery son of the Andes lies torrential waterfalls, ice-capped peaks and a plethora of lagoons waiting to be explored. Make your vacation count with an unforgettable adventure to El Cocuy National Park.