When we started on our road trip around Colombia, it was pretty clear that one of our goals was to hike whenever possible and to enjoy nature. We wanted to prove to ourselves that we still can do this kind of adventures, baby and all. So we planned to do a hike on every major stop of our road trip. When we were in San Gil, we hiked on the Camino Real from Barichara to Guane. And in Villa de Leyva, one of the most beautiful colonial towns in Colombia, we decided to do the hike to Laguna de Iguaque.
Santuario de Flora y Fauna de Iguaque
The lagoon is located in the Santuario de Flora y Fauna de Iguaque, a protected area just 10 km away from Villa de Leyva. The park covers an area of 67,5 square kilometres and is home to hundreds of different plant and wildlife species. One of the most peculiar is the frailejón, a shrub typical of the highlands. This area also includes one of the biggest concentrations of oak trees in Colombia.
In the Muisca mythology, the Laguna de Iguaque is considered to be the cradle of humanity. According to the legend, the goddess Bachué emerged from this small lagoon carrying a baby boy in her arms. When he grew up, they married and populated the earth with their children. And when they grew old, they became serpents and returned to the lagoon.
Getting There From Villa de Leyva
Even though the park is located just 10 km from Villa de Leyva, getting to the trail’s head takes some time because the state of the road. For our Colombia road trip, we rented a car; so we didn’t have to rely on public transport. Still, the road to the Carrizal Administrative Center (where the trail starts) was quite rough at some points, specially when we were almost there. So we had to take it slowly.
Another thing to consider is time. Visitors are only allowed to start on the trail from 8:00 to 10:00 in the morning and there is a limit of only 50 people each day. So it’s best to get there early.
The Hike to Laguna de Iguaque
Once we arrived at the administrative center, we registered our details and payed the entrance fees. The park rangers seemed amused at us attempting to do the hike to Laguna de Iguaque with our 16 months old baby. And, admittedly, at that point this was the hardest hike we had tried with her. But we still felt confident that we would manage.
The trail starts at about 2,800 m.a.s.l. and climbs up to 3,650 m.a.s.l. once you get to the lagoon. One of the most interesting things about this hike is seeing the change in vegetation as you climb up and the many birds you can see along the way.
We started the climb up slowly but surely. We were happy to enjoy the scenery and just to be hiking again. The trail to the Laguna de Iguaque is divided into 10 sections. There are signs at each station that tell little facts about the vegetation in that area. We thought that was pretty neat.
The trail is mellow enough up until section 7, that’s when it gets really steep. The altitude reaches 3,346 m.a.s.l. and it’s about 1.5 km till the lagoon. The ascent was pretty grueling, specially under the bright morning sun. When we were about 3/4 of the way up this section, Ayla started to cry and be uneasy. We thought it might have been the altitude, but we could not really tell. We decided to have a break so she could calm down.
After a quick snack and some rest, we started to get ready to continue; but Ayla didn’t want to go again in the carrier. She was crying, kicking and screaming. That had never happened before. As her screams got louder, we became more anxious and considered our options. We were worried that if she was uncomfortable with the altitude and we pushed on, she wouldn’t calm down. And she was so persistent that in the end we decided to turn back. It was not an easy choice; because we always like to finish our hikes, no matter how hard. But this time it was not only about us, so we chose to play it safe.
The irony is that, after just about 10 minutes walking, Ayla fell asleep. So we wondered if we had kept going up, she might have also fell asleep; maybe she was just tired. Edwin considered turning around, but my reply was: Hell, no! I’m not doing that climb twice!
So that was our experience with the hike to Laguna Iguaque. When we were almost past the hardest part and only needed to go on for one more kilometer till the lagoon, we decided to turn around because our baby was crying. It was quite anticlimactic. Still, we enjoyed the way there and back very much. And if we are ever back in this area, we will definitely try this again!
Colombian adults: $17,000 COP
Foreigners: $44,500 COP
Children (5 – 12 years old): $9,000 COP
Children younger than 5 and Colombian adults older than 65: Free
For more information, visit the park’s website.
You can also download a copy of the trail map.
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Here you can find more useful information to help you plan your trip to Colombia.
Have you been to Colombia? Which other hikes would you recommend? Share your tips with us in the comments section below!