There’s no translation of páramo, since it’s a landscape and ecosystem that only exists in Colombia and its neighboring countries. This particular tropical alpine landscape begins at 3000 meters above sea level and it holds the water reservoirs of Colombia. It’s where the rivers stem from and provide our cities with drinking water. And the silence and pureness of the páramo fills you with peace.
The famous landscape photographer Andrés Hurtado who has visited even the most inaccessible corner of Colombia, told us that the most beautiful páramo in Colombia is Ocetá. So we made the four hours bus trip from Bogotá to Sogamoso and from there a one hour taxi ride to the village Monguí in Boyacá.
We didn’t know that we’d also find the most beautiful village we’ve ever seen in Colombia. Monguí at 2900 m.a.s.l. is like Villa de Leyva but without tourists. 5000 people live in the typical colonial white houses with green balconies. The restaurants still serve local food and the pub is frequented by farmers.
We started our hike at 06.30 in the morning. You don’t want to get caught in the páramo when the night falls, so it’s necessary to get up early.
We met a group of five mathematicians and a dentist from Bogotá, Italy and France, who had already booked a guide so we joined them.
(Photo credit: Aquiles Páramo. Yeah, the photos in which I appear are taken by a man with the same lastname as the landscape that we hiked in.)
During three hours of steep ascent we got from 2900 meters to 4100 meters above sea level.
The weather of the páramo can change from one minute to the other. The mist can make you lose orientation completely and when the sun hides, it gets cold. When it gets cold in the páramo, it gets really cold. At first, I thought it absurd to bring Swedish winter coats, but I’m so happy that we did.
The Ocetá páramo is perfect when you really want to escape human civilization. During the whole day we only saw one other group of people.
Only frailejones and more frailejones, everywhere.
These special flowers, the frailejones, only grow in the páramo and it’s really them that hold the water. They’re able to contain more than 40% of their own weight in water and they grow with 1 cm per year. Look at these frailejones next to me. How old would you say they are?
We had a long picnic at one of the highest points before going back down.
Our legs were shaking during the walk down. But the peace that you’re filled with after hiking a páramo is incomparable.
After seven hours of walking, we returned to the sunny meadows of Monguí.
“It looks like Lyckelilla-Höjen here in Skövde”, said my aunt in Sweden when she saw these pictures. And indeed, I think she is right.
We celebrated our achievement with our new friends and Colombian beer before returning to rest by the warming fireplace of the hostel.