The most interesting thing in Popyán isn't the city.
It is the 4700 meter high volcano which is one of the most active of Colombia.
It was our last stop of this beautiful country and we finished it with a hike in the PNN Puracé.
We visited a completely new biotope with amazing colours but icky smell.
The Parque Nacional Natural Puarcé is located in the Andes of South Colombia, in the departments Huila and Cauca. The park was established 1961 and contains an area of 830km².
The river Magdalena, Cauca, Japurá and Patía, four of Colombians most important rivers, originate in this region. The PNN, which lies southeast of Popayán, contains one of the most active volcanos of the country. The volcano has an altitude of 4700 meters above sea level.
In the 90s, the FARC guerrilla used this area as base camp.
Actually, we planed to climb up the volcano Puracé. We started at 4.30 in the morning but the bus transport in Popayán is not reliable and we started after 5am. The bus needed about 2 hours to drive up. As we arrived at the ranger station, it was raining and several local guides recommended us to do another trek. The temperature on the summit was around -2•C, windy and it was snowing. To climb up the volcano would have been too dangerous.
We went on the tour with Ana-Maria, a local Colombian guide from the Coconuco tribe. She knew a lot about the landscape, the culture and the nature. She was very friendly and a very good guide.
The trip was 15 kilometers away from our arrival point. At another ranger station we got information about the PNN Puracé and all the special biotopes around the volcano.
The first destination of our trip were the "Termales de San Juan". Those hot springs with turquoise water, greenish moss fields, primeval farn trees and yellow river are creating a fascinating biotope which we had never visited before. The hot springs can get over 30•C but swimming is forbidden, because the whole area is under protection. The active volcano is heating the water and sulfur is colouring the creeks. Because of the sulfur, there is a special smell in the air as well.
The whole hike was on a dirt road at an altitude of 3400 meters above sea level. The weather wasn't perfect. It was raining pretty much the whole time. After the Termales de San Juan, we stopped at a yellowish waterfall and a clear pond, before we arrived at the Laguna San Rafael (photo below), a big lake which was mythical for the indigenous groups in this region. About 8 tribes live in the national park Puracé. They are collecting plants around the sea, fishing trouts and some are doing rituals around the Laguna. Therefore, the government protected this area and it's not possible to get closer. It was the last stop of our 14 kilometer hike.
Therefore, we weren't impressed by the white buildings of Popyán.
The volcano Puaracé, which is about 4700 meters high, was more interesting for our last trip in Colombia.
Unfortunately, it was too windy and raining.
The temperature was around -2•C and it was snowing at the summit.
Nevertheless, we did a trip in the PNN. We stayed at 3400 meters above sea level and visited a completely new biotope, the termales of San Juan.
It was our last destination in Colombia. We really enjoyed this country!
I really recommend visiting Colombia, it has an interesting history, very friendly people and an amazing landscape!
Bye bye Colombia - Hello Ecuador
Same same but different view!