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los nevados

Despite already climbing to over 4000 metres out of Santa Rosa, I have managed to end up – due to the road forbidden to me in Los Nevados – still on the wrong the side of the Cordillera Central. To arrive in Bogota from Villa Maria, I have no choice but to cross the mountain range. And to go to Venezuela and Amazonia, I have no choice but to go to Bogota since I need a visa to travel in Brazil.

However, the sun is shining and my belongings are dry so life seems promising. There are a series of hot spring resorts by the road but they are in the extreme water park mode – with slides and zip lines and other unappealing nonsense – so, as much as the idea of a long hot bath is tempting, I continue on my way.

Neither the sunshine nor the pavement lasts long but the road is good and the gradient manageable and I settle into a long afternoon’s drizzly climb.

As the sun slips behind the mountain range, I come, at the top of the valley, to an echoing empty building in the midst of a series of steaming vents. A hysterically barking dog strains at its chain in the middle of a broad expanse of concrete. An old and toothless man emerges from a dark corridor beneath a faded peeling sign which announces that this is the Grand Hotel de Termales de Ruiz. He says, “Enter, my child.”

Do I need to mention this is all kind of spooky?

However, I do enter and – after a tough bargaining session on the price of a campsite – I stay. The man turns out to be a far less menacing caretaker than Jack of the Shining but he does haunt my time here with constant unwanted attentions.

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The water bubbles out of the ground at scalding temperatures...

...and is channeled into a pool. It is a little luke warm for my taste so the caretaker adjusts the flow to increase the temperature.

Another Shining type resort...note sinister figure disappearing into doorway on the left. Not nearly as menacing a caretaker as Jack Nicholson but far more irritating.

Mary watches over the hotel from a makeshift shrine in which the caretaker lights four candles at dusk. The caretaker, himself, appears to be considerably spooked by his job. He goes to turn on the lights in his second floor room before sunset telling me he is too scared to enter the building when it is dark and the lights remain on throughout the night.

Despite the doomed resort atmosphere the site maintains its natural grandeur.

A cascade.

Lush foliage.

Manizales and Villa Maria, far below.

Sunshine. Yay! Up,...

...up,..

...up. Back into the clouds.

And frailejones.

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This is spectacular country and I just can't see it!

Nevado de Ruiz is somewhere up there in those clouds.

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There is practically no traffic - a single mule train...

...delivering potatoes to somewhere over the other side of the range.

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(Spot the mule train in this photo for a sense of scale.)

Finally the road starts to drop down out of the paramo...

... and I play tag with a bright red tractor...

... for miles and miles.

And then there is pavement...

...and fences.

{ 1 } Comments

  1. Cesca | March 2, 2013 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    Amazing landscapes and I can’t believe you climbed over 4000 metres!

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