Parque Nacional Los Nevados

Los Nevados are a compact range of volcanic peaks in central Colombia and the nearest and most accessible mountains to Bogotá. This is a park with all the savage beauty associated with mountains, dormant volcanoes, hot springs and recent memories of tragic eruptions. The park is home to the huge volcanos of
Nevado del Ruiz
,
Nevado de Santa Rosa
and
Nevado del Tolima
. The highest of the three, Nevado del Ruiz (5321 m) erupted in 1985, completely destroying the village of Armero under a mud stream. In total the eruption killed more than 25,000 people. Nevado del Tolima is also still active but hasn't shown major changes in activity recently. The high-altitude volcano vegetation with
frailejones
up to 12 m, the volcanic lakes and the active volcanoes are all absolutely worth visiting.

All three volcanoes can be climbed and there are several treks within the park. The longest and toughest trek is from south (Ibaqué) to north (Manizales) in the park in six days. From Manizales you can take a 4WD up to Laguna de Otún, but deeper into the park it is hard to find any trails at all and therefore it's highly recommended that you hire a guide who knows the area well. A number of treks and hikes are available.

Sights

Nevado del Ruiz
is the highest of the three volcanoes. From Manizales it is easy to climb to 5100 m (after being dropped by car at 4800 m), which is a popular day tour, but with a special permit and gear it is also possible to climb to the top (5321 m). On peak days, the easier climb may be very crowded.
Laguna Verde Encantado
is a beautiful green lake between Paramillo el Cisne and
Nevado de Santa Isabel
. Nevado de Santa Isabel is the lowest of the three volcanoes and inactive. At the summit (5000 m) there is an amazing view (weather permitting), with Nevado del Ruiz to the north and Nevado del Tolima to the south.
Laguna Otún
is the biggest lake of the park and full of trout, fishing gear is available to rent. It is also one of the base camps to climb up Nevado de Santa Isabel.
Laguna Leona
is another large lake, but it has almost completely dried up. It sits at the feet of
Paramillo de Quindío
, which used to be the source of the lake.
Valle del Placer
is a big valley covered with
frailejone
plants.
El Rancho
(2600 m) is an area of hot springs and is a good place to start and end any attempt to climb
Nevado del Tolima
. Nevado del Tolima is the most beautiful but also the toughest summit in the park. From El Rancho it is a long climb to the summit (5215 m). The crater is spectacular; a walk around it in the snow is impressive. There are several routes to climb to the top but some are only for experienced climbers, otherwise it is recommended to go with a guide with good equipment.


This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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