Pan De Azucar 3D/2N starstarstarstar

Pico Pan De Azucar, Merida, Merida, 5101, Venezuela

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Expedition to Pico Pan De Azucar in Merida 3 days / 2 nights.

1 Day: After all the equipment and supplies have been loaded onboard our jeeps, your guide will take you for a 40 min drive out of town and up into the Sierra de La Culata, the mountain range on the opposite side of the valley of the Sierra Nevada. La Culata means butt, called so because from Lake Maracaibo (some 100km north) it is seen as a backdrop from here. On our drive uphill you will enjoy a magnificent view of this valley.

At we reach the limit we start hiking. Cross country carefully some private farmland, we say goodbye to the civilization for the next 3 days. The trail path around us have some curious natural ridges and valleys, like the backbone of a huge reptile.

We begin to enter the Valle del Muerto, marked by a simple grave stone and steep hills all around you here we arrive at the Laguna La Tapada.

Take it easy Piano Piano we are now over 3000 meters above the sea.

The trail here changes between open green meadows and dense frailejon (espeletia) plants with their thick, soft leaves like the ears of a rabbit. This species has adapted to the strong sun, ice and evaporation at these altitudes.

After a few hours we reach an old abandoned farmhouse on a wide grassy plain which ca be used as an overnight shelter if necessary. Nearby is a large rectangular area marked by a low dry-stone wall abandonded many years ago. After a break and a snack we continue, onwards and upwards. Look out for the thick short, red-trunked coloradito trees next to the river (said to be the highest-growing trees in the world) and also for wild horses which roam in this valley.

A crystalline waterfall tumbles from a plateau high above. We set up camp here, or continue up a steep rocky trail to reach another side suitable for camping next to a soft field of damp, green, moss, depends on the weather.

2 Day: From the higest plateau, the summit of Pan de Azucar can just be seen behind a ridge covered of tall frailejones, some hundreds of year old.

Surprisingly, as the altitude increases, so too does the height of these remarkable plants (up to 3 meters). Now you can easily understand how they got their name- their silhouettes reminded the Spaniards of procession of friars or frailes. Leaving all not essesential for this tour back in the camp, we slowly hike up, the earth underfoot changing to fine, almost white, stones and sand.

Abruptly, the frailejones cease to grow, at last defeated by the. Bare rocks stick out of the ground near the summit, providing welcome hand support for you, and shelter for some tiny mosses and flowering plants.

At least, the top, where you have a 360 panorama with valleys and mountains, and on a really clear day one can see the shimmering light of the Maracaibo Lake to the north. Look south and there are the 5 White Eagles: Most notably Pico Bolivar and Pico Humboldt.

3 Day: The descent route follows more or less the same route that we used coming up. Back at the base camp we pick up our equipment to continue on the way back where we started, where a jeep will be waiting for us.

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