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Trekking in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta


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What a perfect organisation !! We enjoyed every bit of our journey!!

Seynhaeve Tania

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Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta

A unique and exciting opportunity to experience the previously forbidden Paramo of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. The Tucurinca valley is home to the Kogui tribe of Mamarongo, that live in the highest coastal mountains in the world where their culture has remained unchanged for centuries. This valley is also home to Andean Condors, lions, deer, birds and amphibians. From the Caribbean Coast to the highest mountains of Colombia (+5600m), passing by all the ecosystems . Be among the first to explore this wild part of Northern Colombia!

This trip is done in 9 days, but you have to be in very good physical shape and have some high altitude mountain experience to fullfil the trip in just 9 days. We start our trip at sea level and go over the +5000m which of course might result in some altitude problems. Besides that we have to carry our own personal gear, while we use mules for the heavy equipment, tents, food, etc. If you don’t have too much experience, problems with altitude sickness or just want to take some more time (recommended), then we can offer the same trip in 10 or 11 days, taking 1 or 2 extra days of relaxing within the 9 days of trekking and climbing.

The tour is done with a minimum of 2 pax and maximum 6 pax. For the trip we have to apply special permits to the local authorities (mamas), and program and itinerary might be modified according these permits. It’s a product we offer as etno- and eco-tourism. This means you have to be aware that we want our visit to have as little impact as possible, both on the natural environment as the local culture of the Indigenous people. We use a guide from DE UNA and besides that some kogi guides. Always listen to the recommendations of the guides and respect all decisions made according the local culture and rules of the indigenous people.

We will hike over difficult paths for full days (7 to 8 hours). The weather conditions in the mountains are unpredictable and can cause more difficulties when the conditions are bad. We recommend a packing list, which are objects you have to bring, but of course this is also something personal. Try at least to pack as light as possible.

Packing list:
- Large backpack for personal belongings
- Good hiking boots (waterproof) or rubber boots
- Extra pair of shoes for in the afternoon/evening
- Clothes for high altitude mountains (at least warm pants and jacket water- and wind proof)
- Easy fitting clothes for the first 2 days (pants and shirt with long sleeves)
- Gloves, Balaclava and cap or hat for sun protection
- Sunblock and sunglasses with UV protection
- Repellent (DEET)
- Bottle for water (at least 1 liter)
- Headlamp and extra batteries
- Personal first aid kit and medicines (we recommend Ibuprofen 800 mg, Acetazolamide 250 mg and sleeping pills)
- Camera with extra batteries
- Pocket money for personal expenses

Important:

When visiting Indian communities that are not or hardly visited we always find ourselves in a dilemma, how amazing it is to be one of the first to get to know a community and culture like this but you also want that your visit has very low impact. Besides ecotourism we are also practicing so called etno-tourism. As DE UNA Colombia Tours we try to minimize the impact of our visit as much as possible. Respect for their culture and traditions when visiting them is very important. We are welcomed in their community, eat their food and sleep in their malokas. When deciding where to sleep we always try to sleep at communities that are a bit used to tourists. Small, very traditional communities we visit but try to avoid sleeping there.
There is little tourism infrastructure available, we will sleep in hammock or tents and eat what we receive in the Indian communities added with some products brought by the organization of the expedition.
On some places it is prohibited to make picture´s. Especially when you want to make pictures of people, religious places and/or of malokas it is necessary to ask for permission beforehand. If you receive a negative answer this needs to be respected.

Camp in Mamarongo

Koguis indigenas

Aracuina Lake

Colon Bolivar

Kogui Guides

Mamarongo town

Sacred Palms

Kaaiman van de gril

Day 1:
Meeting in Santa Marta very early in the morning. We leave Santa Marta and drive to the picturesque coffee town of Palmor (900m) in 3 hours. In the afternoon we pack all our gear and have a relaxing evening in Palmor.

Day 2:
Taking 4x4 transport to end of the dirth road, we then walk past farms as we enter the Tucurinca valley and eat lunch by the river. Our Arrival will be welcomed in the Kogui pueblo of Mamarongo (1550m) built on the site of an ancient Tayrona village were we camp.  In the afternoon reunion with village elders (mamas). Tour in the surroundings; visit a trapiche and see how panela is made. Observe how Kogui bags (mochilas) and clothing are made from natural dyes and fibers. In the evening we have a traditional Kogui communal dinner (sancocho) made with fresh turkey or beef and local vegetables and fruits. We will spend the night inside the village.

Day 3:
After breakfast we will receive prayer blessings from the mamas for safe passage and a lecture of the religious beliefs of the Kogui tribe, and why the Tucurinca valley is so sacred to them. We will then leave Mamarongo and enter the Oramka (pasture) zone. Passing under the waterfall Plantanilla, through palm forests, crystal streams, and the small village of Cocotama. We then arrive at the sacred site of Uramaka (2300m) to spend the night under Cerro Cienega Mountain.

Day 4:
Continuing up the spectacular Tucurinca valley through dense bamboo forests and past the stone prayer seats of Niycuma, to Dubungie (3300m) the last chosa (hut) where we spend the night next to the Quebrada Viscungue stream.

Day 5:
Leaving Dubungie we will enter the Paramo zone (+3200m) where the vegetation changes to flowers and Frailejonales, the typical paramo vegetation of Colombia. We climb past the cobalt blue lake Arucuina to our camp at Laguna Nautanedan (4400m) with the first views of the snow peaks Simond 5597m and Ruiz Erazo 5265m.

Day 6:
We climb past three more lakes to the foot of the Simond glacier, and in the afternoon we make camp near the highest lakes at 4900M.

Day 7:
Rising early we will ascend Peak Ruiz-Wilchez (5142m) to photograph the spectacular mountain peaks of Pico Colon 5661M (highest in Colombia), Pico Bolivar 5649m and Pico Simond 5597m. Descend over the same path back to camp at Dubungie (3300m) for the night.

Day 8:
Descending from Dubungie past Niycuma, Uramake, and Cocotama to our camp at Mamorongo (1550m).

Day 9:
Leaving Mamarongo early we will return to Palmor and then by transport back to Santa Marta in the afternoon. After arrival in Santa Marta (late afternoon) we end our trip.

Lake Nautanedan

Loading Mules

Mamas

Trail

Weaving Mochilas

This trip is offered with some fix departure dates. A program can only be confirmed if we have at least 2 pax for a departure date, and when we have 6 pax, the tour will be closed for inscriptions. Besides the fixed dates, we can always offer trips on request, but you have to be aware that the best period to do this trekking is from December till March (best period and dry season), or again in the month of July (half dry). During other months we can also offer the trekking, but then we have more difficulties because of rain and possible problems with the views.

In 2014 and 2015 we have the following dates for individual travelers:
Taking 4x4 transport to end of the dirth road, we then walk past farms as we enter the Tucurinca valley and eat lunch by the river. Our Arrival will be welcomed in the Kogui pueblo of Mamarongo (1550m) built on the site of an ancient Tayrona village were we camp.  In the afternoon reunion with village elders (mamas). Tour in the surroundings; visit a trapiche and see how panela is made. Observe how Kogui bags (mochilas) and clothing are made from natural dyes and fibers. In the evening we have a traditional Kogui communal dinner (sancocho) made with fresh turkey or beef and local vegetables and fruits. We will spend the night inside the village.

2014
-       December 7-15
-       December 21-29

2015
-       January 4-12
-       January 18-26
-       February 1-9
-       February 15-23
-       March 1-9
-       March 15-23
-       March 29-April 6
-       July 5-13

Prices per person in Euro
2 pax           2110 Euro
3 pax           1625 Euro
4 pax           1225 Euro
5 pax           1075 Euro
6 pax             950 Euro
Prices for 10/11 days          On request

Including:
-       All transportation (from Santa Marta and 4x4)
-       Accommodation (Hotel Palmor and tents and Indian villages)
-       All meals during the trip
-       Tent, sleeping bag and matrass
-       Cooking gear, plates, cups and utensils
-       Experienced mountain guide (DE UNA bilingual)
-       Kogi indigenous guides
-       Mules for carrying the heavy stuff
-       First aid kit for group, radio and satellite phone
-       All entrance fees and permissions for the trip

Not included:
-       Transport (flights) to Santa Marta and out of Santa Marta (can be arranged within the package of DE UNA)
-       Hotel stay in Santa Marta (can be arranged within the package of DE UNA)
-       Personal equipment (clothes and backpack)
-       Other personal expenses and tips for local drivers and guides

This package is leaving and ending in Santa Marta. DE UNA Colombia Tours can arrange a package with transportation or flights to and from Santa Marta, with hotel accommodation in Santa Marta before and after the trip, and combine the trekking with other interesting destinations in the surroundings (such as NP Tayrona, Palomino, Cartagena, etc). Ask for all the options if you are interested.

Oxen

Pressing Cane

Reunion

Weaving Pika