Can you hike in the Colombian wet season?
In short, yes! Paramo Trek hike 365 days of the year.
Some pre-hike preparation is definitely recommended though! The weather systems within the cloud forest and paramo ecosystems of the Los Nevados National Park are reliably unpredictable- regardless of whether the rest of Colombia is experiencing a ‘dry’ or ‘wet’ season. Recently a group on returning from the 3-day tour to the summit of the Paramillo del Quindío (4750m) didn’t even have to take their waterproof jackets out of their packs, despite hiking in what is commonly agreed to be the start of the Colombian wet season!
That’s why we HAVE to prepare for every type of weather for each and every group. We make sure that everybody has the correct equipment to tackle heavy rains, high winds and the intense Andean sunlight. Paramo Trek has much equipment available to lend or rent out, we recommend that you try and bring as much as possible on the equipment list we send out to our clients.
Rain and wind are manageable, however, the biggest challenge when hiking in the wet season is lots of mud. Why is this area so muddy compared to other areas of South America? Colombia’s historically volcanic activity has gifted much of the country with a deep layer of mineral-rich, fertile topsoil. While Colombian’s should thank their lucky stars that their land is so fertile, it does, however, make life for adventurers a little tricky. Many trails leading into the Los Nevados National Park is shared with the local community’s transport (mules!). This results in some very muddy trails due to the rich volcanic clay.
Much like trying to run on a sandy beach, hiking through wet mud is physically draining. However, with the right combination of proper equipment and a positive outlook, it is more than possible to cross even the boggiest of spots.
What do we recommend?
So, what do we recommend specifically to combat this? Rain covers for your bags, waterproof jackets, trousers and socks, a way of ensuring that your personal items remain dry. Some locals walk in rubber boots. Whilst not offering the same level of support for your feet and ankles they could be useful for crossing any particularly muddy sections. These can be bought pretty cheaply (roughly 60,000 pesos) upon arrival to Salento or Manizales, before departing to the mountains.
All our guides carry an emergency shelter so if the weather really does become unmanageable (often in the form of 30-minute tropical downpours) we can all take refuge before continuing along our trail.
The paramo ecosystem is one of the star attractions of Colombia’s famously diverse wildlife and natural beauty. Many of the plants have developed to live in this harsh environment and are fundamental to the steady flow of clean water to many millions of Colombians. When you consider that the iconic frailejon is designed to capture water vapor directly from the rolling clouds, it is almost a shame to not see this impressive ecosystem in full swing.
The weather should not be a reason not the hike in the Los Nevados National Park, rather seen as part of the paramo experience.