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Cartagena

Sunday, 22 February 2015 00:20

The UNESCO World heritage site Cartagena is the undisputed Queen of the Caribbean world. Its mystic old town is surrounded by an ancient impeccable city wall, which contains a labyrinth of cobbled streets, antique balconies with exuberant flowers, medieval buildings and places full of live.

Beauty dancing in the old town

 

In Cartagena's quarter Bocagrande with its impressive skyline are fancy beaches and many hotels of all categories - this makes it the number one touristic destination in Colombia. In addition Cartagena has a nice environment with marvelous island which are protected by a national park and the active volcano Lodo El Totumo, where you can bath in the mud of its crater. But the cosmopolitan city with more than 1 million inhabitants has also its shadows like slums with unbearable poverty and violent crime.

Few kilometers southeast of Cartagena is a second UNESCO world heritage, the sleepy little town Mompòs in the hot swamps of the lower river Rio Magdalena.

 

Sierra Nevada del Cocuy

Tuesday, 10 February 2015 22:36

The Sierra Nevada de Cocuy is one of the most spectacular ranges of the Andes with 15 peaks higher than 5000 meters sea-level. Green lush valleys lead to huge glaciers, stunning pinnacles and marvelous lakes. It is located approximately 300 kilometers northeast of Bogotá in the eastern range of the Colombian Andes, the Cordillera Oriental. Besides bumpy dirt roads access to the this paradise is relatively easy, also to some of its summits and glaciers. Many Colombian people come to these mountains to see and feel snow once in their life.

North face of 5130 meters high Pan de Azucar - Sugar loaf

   

Nevado Puracé and the upper Rio Magdalena valley

Tuesday, 03 February 2015 19:36

Nevado Puracé is with 4646 meters sea-level the highest mountain in the area of the beautiful city Popayan in the southwest corner of Colombia (see article Nevado del Tolima and Farallones de Cali). It is an active and heavily smoking volcano in the Cordillera Central (central range) of the Andes which erupted in 1977 the last time. Still it is called Nevado - Snow mountain but due to global warming we saw no bigger snow fields on its top.

The eastern side of Nevado Puracé leads to the Rio Magdalena. This river is called Mother of Colombia because it is the longest one in Colombia, many provinces are on its shore with huge population and it crosses the nearly the whole country from the Ecuadorian border to the marvelous Caribbean beaches. The upper Rio Magdalena valley is a beautiful, pleasant, lush and fruitful area with two Cultural UNESCO World heritage sites: San Agustin, which is famous for its several 1000 years old effigies and Tierradentro, which is grand for its mystic tombs. 

Two kids with Coffee plants on the trail between Alto de San Andres and El Aguacate to the tombs of Tierradentro

 

We came to Colombia in the late afternoon of December 16th 2014 and we headed to the little town Tuquerres to visit Laguna Verde and Volcan Azufral. But it was raining cats and dogs when we wanted to start early next morning.

   

Cayambe and Corazon

Saturday, 24 January 2015 20:31

Cayambe is a mountain of superlatives: It is with 5790 meters sea-level the third highest peak of Ecuador. It is the only place on the equator of our planet where you find ice and snow permanently. It is a perfect white volcanic cone which a tremendous huge mass of ice.

Marion with Cayambe

 

Before we dared to go to Cayambe we had climbed up 4790 meters Corazon which is few kilometers south of Quito west of the little town Machachi. Corazon means heart and indeed with some fantasy you might find a heart in its shape.

   

The Oriente - Misahualli

Saturday, 24 January 2015 18:21

The little village Misahualli is the main touristic destination in the eastern part of Ecuador - El Oriente in the hot, humid, green and lush area of Amazonia. It is located on shore of the river Rio Napo, one of the mightiest tributary of the Amazon river. Misahualli is an ideal base for trips into the jungle with a very good infrastructure.

Brown-white snake of the rain forest

 

We had been already two times in Ecuador, firstly in May 1981 and secondly in January 2004. 1981 we had been visiting the indigenous people Aucas- an exhausting 5 days trip. 2004 we had taken a public boat to Coca - a 10 hours voyage, which is no longer possible because today is a good paved road to Coca and the public transportation is done with buses. Tommy had been never in Amazonia, thus we decided to travel a third time to Misahualli. Again it was an amazing trip into the wonders and secrets of Amazonia.

   

Galapagos

Monday, 29 December 2014 22:08

The Galapagos island are famous for its enormous biodiversity. Is it one of the place on earth with the highest level on endemism, for instance 97% of the reptiles are found nowhere else. Due to its remoteness most animals are everything but shy. It is a perfect place to watch incredible many, different and nice birds, reptiles, turtles, sea lions and others. In addition its marine fauna is fabulous; there are excellent snorkeling and diving opportunities. In 1835 Charles Darwin started on Galapagos his work of the theory of evolution by natural selection.

Blue-footed booby on Isla Isabela

The islands are 900 km west of Ecuador's shore and located on the Nazca tectonic plate on a hot spot which is moving, yet. Their origin is caused by volcanic activity, which is still ongoing with eruptions in the western part. Usually clouds are coming from the south and sticking on the single volcano of the major islands. Just the largest one, Isla Isabela consists of six. Only there human settlement is possible on the larger island. All other sides of the volcanos and smaller islands are pristine and hostile deserts without any fresh water.  

   

Las Pichinchas, Laguna Yahuarcocha and the southern Pacific coast

Monday, 10 November 2014 18:15

The volcanos Pichinchas are located few kilometers West of Quito, Ecuador's capital. Besides their proximity to Quito it is a remote and pristine area in altitudes higher than 4000 meters with excellent mountaineering capabilities. The highest summit is 4794 meters high Guagua Pichincha - new Pichincha, which erupted in the year 1999 and covered the 2 million city Quito with a thick layer of ash. Marks of this incident are still clearly visible and Guagua Pichincha has a huge caldera with many smoking and stinking points.

The second main peak is the rocky Rucu Pichincha - old Pichincha, which can be accessed easily from the funicular TeleferiQo, a main attraction of Quito which brings you up to 3950 meters sea-level in few minutes. We did the marvelous traverse between these two peaks - a wonderful two days hike.

Our sleeping place with our little tent with 4698 meters high Rucu Pichincha on the top right

 

When we came back to Ecuador in autumn 2014 we visited primary the beautiful Pacific coast South of the medium sized town Manta with the stunning Machalilla National Park. Our base in October and November 2014 was the cozy Finca Sommerwind on shore of Laguna Yahuacocha nearby Ibarra because we had trouble with our car, again.

   

Northern Pacific coast and Mindo

Sunday, 20 July 2014 13:33

The little town Mindo is located on the lower western slopes of the Andes close to Quito in a terrific rain forest. Many different birds like toucans and hummingbirds can be seen there. Its vegetation is abundant, its climate is perfect for orchids and other beautiful plants. Ecuador's hot northern Pacific coast is little Africa because the majority of its inhabitants are descendents of former slaves. This region is touched only punctually by tourism despite marvelous beaches and picturesque villages. Its largest town Esmeralda is Ecuador's main port for oil, which is found on the eastern slopes of the Andes.

Kids in Borbón, close to the most northern Pacific coast of Ecuador

 

Before we flew back from Ecuador to Germany beginning of May 2014 we did a circle from Ibarra via the good street to the coast (San Lorenzo), along Ecuador's northern coast to Galera and to Quito over the direct excellent road which touches Mindo.

   

Beaches and more - Santa Marta

Thursday, 12 June 2014 18:38

The sunny and hot Caribbean cost around Santa Marta is a terrific part of Colombia with amiable people, stunning beaches, snowy mountains, lively towns, incredible nature and a lot of history.

Marion on the western beach of Palomino

 

The Caribbean cost is the major tourist destination in Colombia with countless domestic and foreign visitors. Its infrastructure is pretty good developed. We hurried by plane in a rush to Santa Marta because we wanted to see the carnival of its neighbor city Barranquilla. Colombian people claim that this is the second biggest and most important carnival of the continent after Rio's.

   

Amazonia the second

Saturday, 08 March 2014 03:14

Leticia is exactly on the triangle border Brazil, Colombia and Peru. No street leads to the capital of the Colombian province Amazonas. Leticia is the southernmost town of Colombia and an important port city of the Amazon river. It is a bustling town of approximately 40,000 inhabitants more or less grown together with the Brazilian town Tabatinga. There are no real border between Brazil, Colombia and Peru on the other side of mighty Amazon, and it is possible to pass the virtual borders without passports, stamps or visas. The people living here are feeling like Amazon citizens and not Brazilians, Colombians or Peruvians. Most of them speak Spanish as well as Portuguese. Thanks to its remoteness the jungle in this region is relatively well preserved with huge trees, abundant wild life and some indigenous tribes.

Scorpion of the Amazon


When we came to the nice hostel La Jangada owned by the Swiss guy Herve, he convinced us to do a three days trip on Rio Yavari together with the German / Australian couple Anna and Duncan.

   

Bogota and Coffee Farms

Friday, 28 February 2014 05:00

The capital of Colombia, Bogota is with more than 9 millions inhabitants one of the biggest metropolis in South America. It is located 2600 meters high on a plateau on foot of the Cordillera Oriental of the Andes nearly in the center of Colombia. Bogota has a wealthy face with fancy shopping malls but on its other side poverty is still a huge problem like homeless people sleeping on its streets and begging for some money or food. For tourists it is a relative pleasant city with interesting museums and the picturesque old town Candelaria. Bogota is famous of its wall paintings which can be seen almost everywhere. Some demonstrate critics and resistance to political injustices, exploitation of people or social evils.

Dangerous girl with dynamite in her hands

 

Before we came to Bogota we visited a coffee farm, a must to do in Colombia. Hacienda Guayabal close to Manziales was an excellent choice in a marvelous environment with lovely people. There was a little surprise when we came to the farm after struggling with a steep and narrow road.

   

Nevado del Tolima and Farallones de Cali

Saturday, 01 February 2014 21:52

Majestic Nevado del Tolima is with 5215 meters sea-level the second highest peak of the Cordillera Central in the middle of Colombia, a perfect volcanic cone adorned with a glacier on its top with enormous mass of ice and snow. Full mountain equipment like crampons or rope is essential to achieve the summit. Its access is relatively easy but very long because all possible useful starting points are low, around 2500 meters sea-level.

The most critical part to the summit of Nevado del Tolima

 

Between the Ecuadorian border and the Parque Nacional Los Nevados with Nevado Tolima are the Farallones de Cali, a wonderful mountain region close to the huge metropolis of Cali. They are part of the western Cordillera Occidental of Colombia with peaks up to approximately 4000 meters sea-level.

   

Pico Fuya Fuya, Volcan Rumiñahui and Laguna de Cuicocha

Wednesday, 15 January 2014 23:30

Pico Fuya Fuya is with 4286 meters sea-level the highest peak around Laguna Mojanda in northern Ecuador close to the famous village Otavalo. It is a popular 3 to 4 hours hike in a marvelous environment. Few kilometers North is the beautific Laguna Cuicocha with two islands. It is an outstanding dark lagoon in a collapsed volcanic crater. The 5 to 6 hours trail around the lake provides excellent views.

4939 meters high Volcan Cotacachi seen from Laguna Cuicocha


Volcan Rumiñahui with its three peaks (up to 4712 meters sea-level) is located opposite of Cotopaxi, the second highest summit of Ecuador and with 5897 meters high one of the tallest volcanoes on earth. Both are in the wonderful national park Parque Nacional Cotopaxi, which can be accessed free of charge now and provides good campsites without any costs.

   

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