Nevado del Ruiz
Manizales Travel Blog› entry 7 of 8 › view all entries
This was the main attraction for me in Manizales: Nevado del Ruiz. After Monday night ended up being a bust, I signed up for an excursion with a few people from the hostel. At 7:30am, they picked us up in a minibus right outside the hostel. The bus had already made a few other stops as well, so in all, there were 11 of us; five Americans (including two guys who had fled Colombia for New York 12 years ago and were back visiting for the first time), three Colombians, a French lady, and a couple, one of whom was English and the other being Australian.
Our guide spoke to us on most of the drive about the various ecosystems we were going to see, and were seeing.
At our final stop, at 4800 meters, was the "base camp" of the hike. As we all went inside the small cabin and had one last cup of tea, and then gathered outside to start hiking, it began to snow. This caught many people off guard, as they did not have the proper gear for this weather.
We started hiking together, taking small breaks every ten minutes so folks could catch their breath. I wasn't having any issues, and neither was another girl from our group. We asked if we could go ahead up and he said it would be ok. There was another guide already at the top of where we were allowed to go, in case there were any issues. So we went.
At about 4850 m the snow began to get heavier. My breathing also began to get heavier, so I would stop every ten minutes to catch my breath, and look around. The views started getting even more incredible, and more snow started to accumulate. Then, I caught glimpse of my first glacier, located in a crevace formed by the glacial stream, currently frozen.
Beyond this, the hike definitely went from easy to moderate. At several points, ropes were required (already in place) to pull yourself up over the snow. There were many people in the group, I knew, that would not make it past this!
Next came the marker for 5000 meters. Then 5050! But between 5050 and 5100 (the goal), we found the other tour group and their guide. He told us that no one was allowed any further due to the weather and the lack of gear. Upon checking for myself, he was correct. The hill was simply too steep and packed with glacial snow as well as steadily accumulating fresh snow to go any further without gear. So at around 5075, we took a few pictures, and relaxed to enjoy the view and the moment.
We were to be the last ones even allowed to that point that day. Everyone else was told to stop at 5000, and we were told to head on down before the snow got too bad. All in all though, a wonderful and exilirating experience to be so high up in the clouds, and it was also a personal altitude record for me.
As I got into the cabin to get some coffee, I felt completely relaxed, at peace, for the first time in years.
Anyway, our next stop was lunch at the same place we had breakfast. We were fed excellent potato soup, fried chicken, vegetables and salad. Then, on to Termales el Otono, located on the outskirts of Manizales, to play in their hot springs bath. The hot springs water is pumped in and cycled from the source located nearby on the premisis, and just adds on to an already relaxing feeling. We got to stay about an hour.
Finally, we were dropped off at hostel just before nightfall. I was so relaxed that I wasn't even bothered by the futile attempts at nightlife, which ended up with a few of us just buying several beers each from a tienda and going back to the hostel to watch a movie.