Visit Chicaque – the stunning cloud forest in Colombia

Visit Chicaque – the stunning cloud forest in Colombia

Dusk of ChicaqueWelcome back to this blog post about beautiful Chicaque.

First I have a confession to make. If you asked me, where I’d been three weeks ago, I probably wouldn’t remember.
My flights come and go. You visit a place and enjoy it, you truly do. Yet, soon you leave again. You meet a new crew, and shortly after you say goodbye. Everyone goes back to their “real” lives.

But there are some flights that make your year. You still remember in which month they took place, even years later. You could name the crew members that were with you. And you could recall the feeling you had in this very special place.

The main reason for me to pick Chicaque this week is the following:
Not only was it one of the most magnificent memories from my flights in 2015. But it is rated up high among my very favorite experiences ever since I became a flight attendant.

Now you probably wouldn’t get on a plane for a day trip, at least not my friends here in Germany. But if you’re thinking of going to Colombia at some point, consider this trip.

How it began

Plants in Chicaque

It all happened by accident.
Somehow I got lucky with my request for a six day trip to Bogota in January two years ago.
One of my colleagues was about to have her last flight before retiring. She had requested the flights with some of her favorite colleagues and had brought her niece along.
They were all excited about their plans.

Another group from my crew had also planned a trip and I was supposed to join them. But the driver didn’t allow us to have one more person on the folding seat of the car. And since I had joined last minute that person was me. Some people say that everything happens for a reason. And maybe they’re right.

This is how I ended up doing the trip to Chicaque with this fabulous group of women. They, who had been friends for so many years, included me in their group to come along. I thought that was really sweet since it was their last layover with everyone together.


Trip to this stunning place

On our first day off we drove to Chicaque.
It’s a full day trip, so I’m glad we started early.
You start at about 2700 meters high and go down to around 2000 at times. The humid air masses sink down above the valley and keep it almost always covered in clouds.
That gives it an almost spooky and mysterious look.Mysterious Chicaque

It’s a jaw dropping place, like nothing you’ve ever seen before. The fog almost seems to divide the immense diversity of plants into many layers. Right in front of your eyes those greens will seem to fade out. And the further they are away, the lighter the shades get.
Probably you can’t get any closer to Mother Nature.

You’ll see a multitude of birds, such as hummingbirds, and there will be various types of butterflies.
Cloud ForestIf you want to, you can actually be accompanied by an ornithologist.
I personally think it would also be a nice trip to do as a couple. It’s very private, like a secret place, you barely get to see any tourist and or even locals neither.

Many Columbians from Bogota have never been there. I can’t imagine why, but it seems to be some kind of insider tip.
Somehow it will make you feel like you’re the only ones on earth.

Whenever the sun light shines through the mist, it is like magic. The heavily stemmed trees will make you feel humble. And you’ll hear the exotic birds sing their songs. You might notice other animal sounds as insects, reptiles and mammals, and yes even a sloth is living in the forest.


Hike into Chicaque valley

There are diverse natural paths from which you can choose. Overall I would say you should be fit or at least take your time, as it gets steep and slippery at times.

Valley of ChicaqueIn the heart of Chicaque you will find El Refugio. I would definitely recommend a stop there. You might want to meet other hikers or have some lunch. This is the right place for both.
We stopped at the restaurant and took a moment to relax outside in the hammock.

I saw hummingbirds dancing around those giant blossoms. And we saw horses on the huge lawn surrounded by those tremendous mountains.

If you only want to do half the hike you can actually get a car ride back up from here. And they do offer horseback riding back to the top. But just like your personal guide you would have to book this in advance.

Sleeping in tree houses

If I booked something it would be the treehouse.
You could as well stay overnight as cabins and campsites are available. And they do have rooms in the main lodge.

El Refugio, ChicaqueBut I love the idea of going back for one of those two treehouses or “nests” as they call them.

The Tángara’s nest is a rather luxurious version. Built around a walnut tree it offers a private terrace and even a hot shower underneath the tree.

If you go for the Roblegrande nest you’ll be in your sleeping bag at the height of 25 meters. And you will have a guide camping by the foot of the tree.

Whatever you decide on, you will probably sleep like a log. The fresh air and your walk through the very high humidity will get you sleepy by the end of the day.

Do it well

As I mentioned before it’s good to get there in time. Be sure that you’re going to Chicaque Park, not the village.
You can park for free; another option is public transport or the shuttle service from their website.
The park is open from 8am till 4pm, every day of the year, even on holidays.Chicaque trails

Wear comfortable shoes and clothes, obviously trekking wear would be best. If you don’t have any, don’t worry, I didn’t have any either. Just wear different layers and bring a rain poncho. Sunscreen and some kind of hat should be definitely on your packing list.

And even though you might head towards El Refugio, bring some energy bars and enough water. Nice to know: If you get to one of the creeks, you can refill your bottle as they are pure water springs.

One more thing I learned: I can only recommend heading back early before the dusk. We got into a little rush towards the end and were happy we had a little flash light.

Last words

So dear reader, who looks at my post in this very moment,

if you have a trip to Colombia in mind, make room for this unique and magnificent place.
Unfortunately I haven’t seen as much of the country as I would like. But this one I really had to share. There are two more trips within Columbia I could tell you about.
But let’s see if you like this, first.

A tribute

Path in Chicaqueto the beautiful ladies that brought me along:
Even two and a half years later I often think of this trip. It gave me some kind of inner peace I could still drew on much later.
I had so much fun with you and was reminded of how meaningless age can be. I loved the stories from your flights back in the days.

And that you are still such close friends. Seeing you with one another touched me. You were all beautiful to me, and maybe your friendship was part of it.

In fact this was another magical thing about our trip. I looked at you and I knew how I want my friendships to be when my girls and I will someday retire.

If you ever read this, you will know who you are.

Love,
JS

 

 

 

6 Comments

  1. Vilmi
    2017-08-21 / 9:05 PM

    Dear Jasmin,
    I think this post is amazing, the pictures are breathtaking and after reading this , I just want to fly over there right now if I had the time.
    Defined excited for your upcoming posts about this place , if u decide to write them.
    Hugs Vi

    • JS
      Author
      2017-08-22 / 2:07 PM

      Thank you so much, dear Vilmi!
      I’m glad you enjoyed this article and the pictures I chose!
      Might actually consider now to write some kind of follow up!

  2. 2017-08-24 / 10:58 PM

    Hi Jasmin,

    this blog post was very interesting to read. After reading it I would love to go to Columbia as well

    Keep the good work up.

    Lots of love,
    Gohar from http://www.goharbeauty.com

    • JS
      Author
      2017-08-31 / 5:24 PM

      Hey Gohar,
      so happy to hear that I could arouse your interest in Colombia.
      Thanks a lot for your feedback, girl!

      Cheers,
      JS

  3. Ricardo Melo Martínez
    2018-10-11 / 12:42 AM

    Hi JS

    I live in Colombia and I like the nature trips. I was looking for a place for visit and I read your blog about Chicaque Park. I found that this place is very close to me. I live in Bogotá the main City of Colombia. I decided visit this place with my son. The first thing you find is the cloudy weather, it was some scared for my son. I like the views with mountains and Chicaque is special for this. You wrote about El Refugio and It is all you describe, this place is amazing. You write in detail every incredible place that I found. I think you a great writer and I would like you visit us again and know the thousands Colombian places which are waiting for you.
    PD. You are also so pretty

    Ricardo

    • JS
      Author
      2018-10-11 / 1:16 AM

      Ricardo,
      this makes me so happy. Thank you for your words. When I heard that many Colombians haven’t been there, I knew I had to write this.
      I wanted people like you, that love nature, to go there and see another beautiful part of their country.
      Glad you made it to Refugio. Even though your son was a little scared of the fog, I’m sure he enjoyed that place with the horses and hummingbirds.
      And I wanna fly out there again for sure.
      Thank you very much for taking the time to write this.
      Cheers,
      JS

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