Opposite the Sierra Nevada we find a parallel and slightly lower chain of mountains called La Culata. Like the páramo, La Culata treats hikers to vast, windswept vistas across a treeless terrain. Many endangered species live in this park and enormous condors soar over the park’s peaks on lofty 3.5m wingspans. No mountaineering equipment is necessary for the ascent to the top of Pan de Azúcar Peak (4,747m). A clear day will reward you with the sight of Lake Maracaibo to the north and the entire Sierra Nevada range spreading out to the south.
Day 1: At around 0730hrs our driver will pick you up at your hotel and take you to the office for a cup of coffee and to arrange all the equipment with your guide. Then we will set off for “el Valle”, and go right to the end of the road, where we will find the access to the Sierra La Culata National Park and the start of our ascent. The hike starts at 3,200m and climbs to our first camping site at 3,600m. (1 hour driving, 4 to 5 hours hiking) Meals:--,L,D
Day 2: Today, if you wish, you can climb to the top of the peak of Pan de Azucar at 4,700m; from there it is possible to see the Sierra Nevada National Park and its highest peaks, Bolivar and Humboldt, and, weather permitting, Lake Maracaibo. We will hike for 4 to 5 hours; the ascent does not require technical equipment, but good physical conditions and acclimatization. This might be a long day if you decide to go to the top; returning from the top we take all the equipment with us to the second camp site which is a further 3 hours away. Camp will be set up near a lagoon named “La Carbornera”. (7-8 hours hiking) Meals: B,L,D
Day 3: After a hearty breakfast we will begin our trek to the hot springs. The trek continues across an area densely colonized by short red-trunked coloradito trees — the species of tree which grow at the highest altitude in the world. They once formed a solid belt marking the upper limits of the Andean jungle zone but now only ten pockets of coloraditos remain. Once these trees have been felled this ecosystem does not regenerate. At the natural hot springs we can bathe in the warm waters before walking for another 45 minutes to the road where the driver will be waiting to take us back to Mérida. (3 - 4 hours hiking, up to 2 hours driving) Meals: B,L,--