We woke up in Puracé, a sleepy little mountain town, where we’d camped for free at the indigenous centre. We had tried to get to Parque Nacional Natural Puracé the night before, but it took a lot longer then we imagined. The hair pin turns and landslide-filled roads were pretty hectic in the dark. I was feeling a bit guilty from the passenger seat, for pushing to make it to the park that night. The next day made everything ok… right Mark?
Since having some niggling issues fixed with the van, our confidence in it has been restored. We’re excited to have the old Oscar back, the van that can do pretty much anything.
We cruised around taking in the amazing scenery, and stopped to gaze at the soaring Andean Condors. Although they are one of Colombia’s national symbols, perched atop the coat of arms, this is one of the few places left in Colombia to spot them in the wild.
Throughout the day the scenery changed dramatically. One minute we were exploring forests overgrown with vivid green moss, the next we were driving through Andean tundra, peppered with striking frailejón plants. Warming chilly hands
We wanted to check out the Termales de San Juan, but when we arrived at the gate the park ranger told us they were closed to the public. Given our understanding of Spanish, we couldn’t figure out the fine details of why. After chatting for a few minutes about all the animals in the area, he decided to let us in… as long as we were quick and got back before his colleagues arrived.
These are the stinkiest, fartiest smelling hot springs I’ve ever come across. You aren’t allowed to swim in them, and if you did you’d probably suffocate on sulfur gas. Despite the stench, they were absolutely spectacular. I’ve never seen colours like this together in nature, it almost felt like we were on another planet.
The park ranger told us about a waterfall close by that we could hike to, so off we drove down the narrow tunnel-like road to the trail head. It was a short, muddy jaunt up to the misty falls, where we happily basked a while in its chilly spray.
The day ended with an epic drive. From dairy farms set in picturesque green valleys, into thick seemingly-endless jungle. Our crappy tourist map said San Agustin was 44km away. Turns out it was 144km. Small typo, big difference. We found a restaurant on the outskirts of Isnos just before dark, where we camped overlooking pretty farmland and shared the single beer we had left in the fridge. Cheers to van life!