El Cocuy National Park is a high elevation gem tucked away in eastern Colombia. Although it is a stunning location, there aren’t too many tourists here. Access to the park is time consuming and it requires a bit of planning and money to organize the permits required to enter the park. In addition access to the park for tourists has been limited or completely blocked during the last 4 years. The popular 5 day trek through the park is completely closed and now only 3 day hikes are available. The day hikes are tough and scenic all day events, gaining 1000m or more and up to elevations of 4800m or more. The other catch keeping some people out is the requirement to have a guide, which costs around $40 (USD) a day on top of the entrance fee.
Not only a fun city name, also a bustling metropolis!
After yet another long drive day heading into Bucamaranga – we’re sensing a theme here – we got to enter the chaos of another Colombian city. Ben is getting pretty good at handling the traffic and apparent lack of rules, and Rachel is getting better at not screaming. We attempted to do some shopping in the city, but after getting turned around a few times, we finally arrived at our destination to discover we’re too tall for the garage. Then we headed about an hour east from the city to find a campsite, only to find the young girl working at that moment to be unhelpful and unwilling that we got frustrated and just left.
Our next stretch of road in Colombia took us to three very different climates: The cloud forests of Minca, the hot and humid swampiness of Mompox, and the dry deserts around Los Estoraques.
It only took 15 months and 50,000km, but we made it to South America!
Panama and Colombia are connecting by a thin peninsula of thick jungles and no roads. Getting a car around involved stuffing it in a container and putting it on a cargo ship. Getting ourselves around there were two options: Fly or Sail.
North- and South America are not connected by any roads, between Panama and Colombia is about a 150km stretch of jungle, the so called Darian Gap. Therefore, we have to ship our Landy to Colombia.
Before leaving Costa Rica, we stopped at a private Mirador (Viewpoint). The Mirador is run by a National Park Ranger and has two short but steep trails to a viewpoint. From there you have a beautiful view of the coast and with good weather we were told you can even see mount Chirripo. What we also saw on the hike were many green and black frogs, nearly completing our animals to see in Costa Rica list! The only ones we didn’t see were Quetzals, the elusive national bird of Guatemala we’ve been on the lookout for since months.
Part 3 of our adventures starts and ends back at the beach. We start on the Pacific coast, with a night of wild camping. We found some safer stretches of coast in this part of our journey and could enjoy something for FREE in Costa Rica! After all that complaining we did about prices in the last stretch, it was a nice change of pace.
We left the beautiful Nicoya Peninsula excited to see what the highlands of Costa Rica have to offer. The country has a lot of beautiful and exciting National Parks – that are both expensive and totally forbidden for dogs. Monteverde, which would have been the next stop, has $30 entrance fees per person plus a hotel room to leave the pup at while there, made this quickly drop from possible stops. Instead we drove a windy mountain road nearby, enjoyed the beautiful views, and continued on to Lake Arenal.
Costa Rica is an interesting place. It is a huge tourist destination and unlike the rest of Central America, it is full of people that speak English and steep entrance fees to see anything. After our tense drive through Nicaragua and the nervous weeks leading up to that, we were mostly excited to have made it safely to the Switzerland of Central America.