We’d thundered across the Andes (because the Wild Man LOVES his music at full volume) a few days before, fresh from Socorro and 10 days living with his mother. Whom I love. But, you know, living with the boyfriend’s mom… not super easy. (Shameless plug: if you’d like to read the more personal stories of this adventure, you can get access through my Patreon account at http://www.Patreon.com/AuthorJaclynLanae) So I was stoked just to be on the road, but when we crested the eastern shoulders of the Andes, I literally lost my breath.
I’ve loved the mountains all my life, and it seems every year I gain in age, I am more deeply enamored with them. Often to the point of tears, as was true here. I still can’t pinpoint exactly why I love them so much. It has something to do with their powerful resistance to the forces that change them, though obviously they are changing constantly. And the idea that you can sort of hide in their folds, be completely anonymous and unseen… *shrug* I don’t really know, I just love them.
Anyway, we were en route to Bucaramanga when I had my first experience with these beauties, so we just stopped to snap a couple of photos and moved on. A few days later, however, rested and ready for another little adventure, we scaled the steep slopes a second time, this time from the other side with the intention to camp in a place called Mesa de Los Santos-the high point of the mountains that form the famous canyon. Named for the river that carved it, the Chicamocha canyon is more than 6,000 feet deep and 141 miles long, making the sides of the canyon so steep that often you can’t see directly below your feet.
There wasn’t really a place to camp at the top, and we were both a little surprised to find that what we expected to be a stretch of largely un-inhabited highway along the spine was actually bristling with tourist locations. Hotels, markets, and restaurants lined both sides of the highway sending our camping dreams up in the proverbial smoke. Though it was a joy to see families enjoying a Sunday flying kites, picnicing on the side of the road, and taking selfies with a jaw-dropping backdrop.
And when you do arrive at Mesa de Los Santos, proper, there’s lots to do. A long building runs the length of one side of the property and several small tiendas vend everything from food and drinks to virtual reality experiences. You could rent a buggy and race around the track with your friends, do some stationary bungee jumping, even ride a adorably adorned donkey!
It’s also the “other end” of the cable car that begins at the Parque National del Chicamocha on the other side. Interestingly, it’s one of the longest of it’s kind in the world and runs not only to the bottom of the canyon, but across the river and back up the other side. There’s a stone-paved walking path too, though we got mixed information about whether or not you could actually arrive at the river taking this route. We were assured it was a very old path, however, and one you wouldn’t want to do at night. The attractions close up around sunset (6:30-ish) when the cable cars make their last runs of the night, so you’ll want to arrive early in the day to enjoy all there is to do.
And, the “park side” of the cable car is replete with similar attractions, including a hotel and swimming pool, paragliding, and other adrenaline-related adventures. For me, however, and likely for some of you, the highlight of the experience will be a drink of something delicious with someone you love at the top of the world.
One final shameless plug-this one with an asterisk: All of this is because of him-the Wild Man. Not because he’s some magical force (*asterisk: I think he is, but then, he’s my partner ;)) – but because of who he is. He’s perpetually lit up by the adventure of exploration, of doing something new, of seeing something new, of learning something new. Even when we’re on our way to a grand new adventure, he pulls over on the side of the road for a little side adventure-to take a picture, or chat up a local, or have a cup of tinto. I’m telling you all of this because he’s an ADVENTURE GUIDE – which means you can adventure this way too. Check out www.ColombiaNaturalSport.com for contact details.