You know those big buses that hoard Japanese tourists to different touristy sites throughout the world? I boarded one of those buses at 6:30 AM, except with a bus load of tourists from all over Colombia (Bogota, Cali, Cartagena, Manizales, Armena, and more).
The purpose of this trip was to see the Nevado Del Ruiz
, a 17,000+ feet volcano here in the Caldas department of Colombia. The entire ride was tremendously scenic, beginning with the green mountains surroundingManizales.
We stopped at a roadside restaurant for a basic breakfast of a butter soaked arepa
with farmer’s cheese, a few saltine crackers, and a bowl of sweet tea.
It was all pretty nasty. I ate a bit and preferred standing outside the restaurant where I could watch these guys preparing for a day of work.
The tour leader, dressed in jacket even brighter than the orange bathing suit David Hasselhoff wore in Baywatch, rounded us into the bus like a bunch of sheep. We continued on climbing higher and higher into the mountains while the scenery changed drastically.
We reached the entrance to the park and watched a quick introduction video in this building.
If you look below at the blue sign, “Tarifas de Ingreso”, you will notice that the price for “extranjeros (foreigners)” is nearly three times as much as the “adult” price.
Our David Hasselhoff rounded us back into the bus and we waited a bit in the cue to enter the gate into the park. We were not the only ones waiting, as you can see from the truck full of Colombian soldiers.
The bus plugged away up the switchback roads. We drove along dirt roads on the edges of cliffs.
I am smiling in this photo because we made it to the top safely.
Snow! In Colombia.
The busload of us exited the bus and attempted to summit the volcano, walking just 500 of those 17,000+ feet.
The air was thin of course and walking even one step took some effort.
I still managed to find some time to enjoy the snow in between our short climb up..
But that was only until we got caught in the middle of a full out battle between the Colombian military and FARC rebels!
Haha only kidding. As we were walking up these soldiers were casually walking down the volcano. My guess as to what/who they are protecting way out there is as good as yours. But like I said, the soldiers make for incredible photos.
The end (I should mention we quit the summit half way and then went to a hot springs instead).