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The sacred mountain of Quniní, petroglyphs from the Panche people who’d commit collective suicide rather than succumb to the Spaniards, their habits of abducting pregnant women from other tribes, a magical oakwood and pouring rain. All this made for quite a dramatic hike in the surroundings of Tibacuy, two hours from Bogotá.

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Along the first part of the path, the forest felt kind of normal, it could have been in Sweden or somewhere in the northern hemisphere.

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But the pride of the villagers around Quniní are these petroglyphs, figures engraved in the rocks by the Panche people at least 500 years ago. Scientists still don’t know when they were made. Until the Spanish colonisation, the surroundings of Quininí were inhabited by the dreaded warriors, the Panches.

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They had the habit of abducting pregnant women from the neighbouring tribes. At the “piedra del parto”, named for its shape of a woman giving birth, there is a petroglyph illustrating a woman giving birth and the legend says that the Panches would keep the child and the woman if it was a boy. For the occasions of girls being born, it is unclear what happened.

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On the next stop along the walk, at the “piedra del gritadero”, the rock where the baby boy would be taken for a big celebration, the Panches would scream out over the valley that a boy had been born and dance through the night. There are petroglyphs illustrating this, but they aren’t in the best conditions. The frog, though, is as clear as had it been engraved yesterday. It is considered a sacred symbol of rain and abundance for many indigenous groups in the region.

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And rain was precisely what we had an abundance of this morning.

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We reached the Oak Wood, and felt we were transported to a completely different country. England or maybe Narnia…

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The rain was pouring down, when we stopped for our delicious picnic. But Carlos, Maria Fernanda and Javier had dressed for the weather and enjoyed it.

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In fact, the rain made the place so much more magical.

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But what happened to the Panches? Why aren’t there any left today? They’d prefer committing collective suicide from this cliff, “la Cabeza del indio”, the Head of the Indian, rather than succumbing to the Spaniards.

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During the last hour of hiking, the weather cleared up and we got an idea of what the valley looked like.

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Hadn’t the trip from Bogotá to the starting point been so complicated, I’d probably recommend this hike even more warmly. The oak wood is really beautiful and the history of the Panches narrated by the knowledgeable guide from the village is quite dramatic. A plus is that there aren’t hardly any tourists or other visitors.

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How to get to Quininí:

There’s no collective transport so it’s necessary to travel in a good car or with an organised group trip to get here. We went with the company Solución vertical who organised the hike for my companion’s workplace. There are several companies offering the tour, although it’s not very frequented. The cost at around 50.000 Colombian pesos per person usually includes transport, insurance, guide, something to eat, etcetera. If you have a car, I’d suggest looking up the number to a local guide directly. Let me know if you want more information!

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