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New Cruiser: Expeditions

The travels of an all aluminum Land Cruiser and its owners…

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Volcan Purace, Colombia

Written by Raenelle on Tuesday, September 30, 2008
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After setting off early, and a long day of driving, we had made alot more progress than we had hoped (thanks to the presence of some good toll roads), and so we decided to head 45km southeast of the town of Popayan to a national park with a volcano (Volcan Purace) for the night. We weren’t too sure what to expect … we had little more information than a name on a map. We were looking for a remote campsite in a beautiful location … what we found was so much more!

Final leg.After chatting to the warden at the camp entrance, he informed us that the volcano was 4,850m high. It was possible to hike to the top of the volcano from the park entrance (7 hours round trip). Alternatively, we discovered that there was a rough 4-wheel drive access road which led up to an altitude of 4,100m. If we liked, we could head up the access road, camp the night at the trailhead, and complete the hike up to the top of the volcano the following day (3 hour round trip hike). If we liked? Yes, we liked!

We weaved our way up the mountain in the truck to an active sulphur mine, who provided us access through the mine to the rough, steep, 4-wheel drive road that led about 6km up, up, up. Everyone thought we were crazy for wanting to sleep at such a high altitude, claiming that it was ‘mucho frio’ … VERY COLD! When we mentioned that we are Canadians, they all nodded their heads in comprehension … ‘Ah, claro. No problemo!’.

We have had very little problems with altitude thus far, despite ascending very rapidlySummit (within an hour) from 2,000m to well above 4,000m (in both Los Nevados Park and now Volcan Purace Park). Although we can feel that the air is thinner, our breathing is more laboured, and it’s alot harder to hike uphill, we have been ensuring that we stay well-hydrated, eat the right foods, and also throw in a cuppa Coca tea every once in a while for good measure!

We camped adjacent to two small ponds, and although there was a slight breeze and a mild drizzle for the first hour after setting camp, it wasn’t too cold after all. In the evening the wind picked up and made for a slightly restless night in the rooftop tent, but in the morning light, it was crystal clear, no clouds in the sky, and bright sunshine.

CraterWe packed up quickly and hit the trail with a vengeance! The relatively short (2.5km to 3km long) trail climbed steadily until it reached the rim of the crater on top of the volcano. By the time we reached the top of the volcano at 4,850m, the clouds had rolled in, and the wind was howling like nobody’s business. We battled to keep steady on our feet as we traversed the rim of the crater, and we were lucky that the clouds cleared on a few occasions to allow us an unrestricted view of the amazing crater and also the surrounding scenery. We were later informed that we were extremely lucky to have such good weather, as the volcano is usually consistently shrouded in cloud at this time of the year.

On our way back down the mountain, we were treated to a sighting of an Andean Condor (highly endangered bird) that flew right by us at about 4,000m elevation. We later discovered that there are only 3 condors in the park, all reintroduced about 8 years ago as part of a captive breeding program in California. Again … sometimes you’re just in the right place at the right time … or perhaps good things happen for a reason!

Further Reading on South America 2008:
Comment by Dad
September 30, 2008 @ 3:27 pm

cool volcano…looks like the rim is about 2 km across. Is that right? And yes, good things happen for reasons.

Comment by Raenelle
September 30, 2008 @ 5:34 pm

I think it was about 900m across. Very cool crater … other volcanos we’ve been to haven’t had such symmetrical craters like this one!

Comment by Brady
October 6, 2008 @ 12:40 pm

Good post – I really like the picture of you two!

Comment by Michelle
October 10, 2008 @ 3:17 pm

I think that Raenelle needs her own travel show. I agree good picture, but Robin looks cold.

Comment by Robin
October 19, 2008 @ 6:46 pm

Ok, I look pretty cold. It wasn’t that cold, maybe 5 degrees C, but it was REALLY windy. I had to stand sideways especially over the rim of the volcano!

Comment by jhon smeding
February 9, 2009 @ 7:00 am

Hoi Raenelle, ik heb je mooie verhaal gelezen. Ik ben misschien ook van plan om naar het nationale park van Purace te gaan. In hoeveel dagen kun je het park zien? Is het aan te raden om een gids te hebben?

Met vriendelijke groet,


Comment by Robin
February 9, 2009 @ 6:26 pm


een gids is alleen nodig voor het gebied waar je de vulkaan beklimmen. Veel toeristen doen dit door middel van een bus voor de dag.

U kunt blijven veel langer in het park, ten minste 1 week, misschien langer.


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