Into the Mountains and Manizales
I arrived in Manizales rather late due to rain-related road delays. Fortunately, I was able to get a bed at my residence of choice, Base Camp Hostel. Manizales is a university town in the mountains. About 100,000 of the 400,000 residents attend one of the multiple universities. Manizales has a small city feel that many find reminesent of Switzerland.
My plan was to spend two nights and one day here, spending the day hiking into the snow mountains of El Nevado Ruiz where there is reportedly an exquisite thermal hot springs. The following day I would make the short trip to Salento for a much anticipated hike into Valle de Cocora part of Los Nevados National Natural Park and home to many wax palms which are the tallest palm trees and the national symbol of Colombia.
Well travel plans do not always come to fruition, especially where weather is concerned. The trail into the snow mountain was closed due to excessive rain and ice. The Valle de Cocora was reportedly underwater and all trails in the park were closed. O.K. Cancel trip to Salento, check. Find alternate activities in Manizales, check.
There are four manmade thermal springs closer down the mountain toward the city. The water is piped from the aforementioned natural spring. Two were open for business and my body was sore from so much time on buses. Eddy, a friendly New Zealander and I went to Termales El Otono where we enjoyed a liesurely day soaking in hot sulferous water.
The afternoon predictably brought more rain, but we continued to soak. We finally returned to Base Camp where we spent a very chill evening, playing cards, ordering pizzas and watching the lightening light up the surrounding mountains.
The next morning it was clear. Going for a walk around the city, I saw some strange sights indeed! First there was this construction worker. Boy, you don’t want to show up late for work on his crew.
Then there were the psychedelic bulls raging in a downtown fountain.
On the third morning, the weather cleared and from the roof of Base Camp I was able to actually see the snow for the first time.
And off we go for a long series of bus rides through Cali to Quito, Ecuador.Tweet