Nevado del Tolima
Nevado del Tolima, also known locally as Dulima, is one of the tallest mountains volcanoes of Colombia at 5,215m. Situated in the department of Tolima, it is part of Natural Park Los Nevados which has two other volcanoes: the Nevado de Santa Isabel and the Nevado del Ruíz.
Nevado del Tolima is the perfect place if you like mountaineering, hiking and nature. It is a realtively easy climb to the top but the main attraction is the overall hike so you don't need to be an avid mountain climber to go there.
There are several routes to the top but the two main ones are:
The Salento Route - easier but longer than the Ibague route, the salento route has a lot of advantages. The climbing is slow enough for you to get acclimated and you necessarily walk through the Valle del Cocora so it’s two birds with one stone.
The Ibagué Route - more direct (only 3 days climbing up and down) the Ibagué route is physically harder. The slope is steeper and no mules can help you carrying your bag. However, from Bogotá, it is a lot closer meaning you can easily summit in a 3-days week-end.
We recommend to take the advice from a guide for 3 reasons:
•the path is relatively easy to follow when the weather is good. But from the moment the fog comes in, it will be difficult to find your steps.
•the top part of the nevado has a glacier with several crevasses. Unless you have strong experience of high-altitude mountaineering
•you participate in activating the local eco-economy with respectful tourism towards the environment and the local communities.
As a high volcano, there are several ecosystems depending at which height you are. The most emblematic is the “Páramo Ecosystem” with the famous “Frailejones”. Thousands of them live on the volcano flank and help regulate the humidity of the ecosystem.
You will also find the “Bosque de Niebla” eco-ystem where as its noun says, you are in a medium-altitude forest which is constantly covered by fog and crossed by numerous rivers.
Some eagles can be observed in in the high vertical cliffs but it is barely the only wild animal you will see. Human activities have chased them from their natural environment.
If you are lucky enough to have good weather, on top of Tolima you will be able to see all the Nevado Park and its Volcanoes as well as the city of Armenia! It is worth the try!
You will find guides or agencies directly at Ibagué or Salento. Some agencies: www.paramotrek.com, www.colombiaoculta.com,
How to get there?
You can access either routes with by bus (4h Ibagué/10h Salento). In Salento the trek starts at the Valle of Cocora. In Ibagué, the route starts from “El Rancho”
How much time does it take?
The Salento route is 4 days long whereas the Ibagué route is 3 days long.
How much does it cost?
Agencies prices vary from $700,000 to $1,200,000 for 3 to 4 days. Everything is included (food, tents, high-altitude material, guides etc…). Surprisingly, no entrance fee is asked when entering the National Park (unlike other National Parks).
If you are limited with money you can go without guides to the finca primavera (on the salento route) and contract a guide there. Ask for Germán Liderato -
What is the weather like?
Temperatures never go under 0. Nevertheless, at high-altitude, with strong winds, the temperature felt can go under-0. Take warm impermeable cloth as well as good hiking shoes. Don’t forget sunglasses and solar-cream
•Government Los Nevados Website
•A very detailed description of the Ibagué Route
•Facebook Page of the Guide I hired.