The Sierra is in the eastern part of the park and is the main tourist attraction. It is a mountain range stretching north to south that contains several snow covered peaks. The western part of the park is low lands tropical forest all the way to the Llanos region and is off limit to tourism because of absence of tracks and guerrilla presence.
Frailejones, typical of paramo landscapes. Cojines, swamp bushes endemic to the park.
Bears, deer (south part of the park), pumas, condors (north of the park) and rabbits.
The weather is rainy and cloudy most of the year. Temperature does not vary a lot during the course of a year. The best chance for dry, sunny weather is between December and mid-March.
Above 4,000 meters, there may be snow anytime.
- From the South: Five direct buses leave from Bogotá daily (COP$45,000, 12 hours). The route goes through Tunja (COP$25,000, 9hr) and Duitama.
- From the North: Coming from Cucuta or Bucaramanga is more complicated and will require changing buses in Capitanejo.
Fees and permits
You need to register with the park offices either in El Cocuy or in Güicán. Entrance fees are:
- COP$71,000 for foreigners,
- COP$29,500 for residents of the Comunidad Andina de Naciones, aged over 25 years
- COP$14,500 for residents of the Comunidad Andina de Naciones, aged 5 to 25 years
If you go in the park without a guide, you'll have to tell the rangers how long you plan to be in the park. Make sure to check in with the office again once you've exited the park safely, otherwise rescue teams will be launched to look for you.
Concerns by the U’Wa indigenous community, who consider the park sacred, led to the closure of the NP in February 2016. It was reopened in April 2017, however with the following restrictions in effect:
- Admittance to the park limited to the time between 05:00 and 09:00, exit is between 13:00 and 18:00
- All visitors must attend a 10-minute induction speech
- Visitors must keep to three available routes (see printed map or interactive map, total length: 25 km):
- Ritacuba trail to the snow line of Ritacuba Blanco
- Laguna Grande trail to one of the park’s most impressive lakes
- Pulpito del Diable trail to the snow-line of the Pulpito del Diablo peak
- No admittance beyond snow lines
- No overnight stays
The cheapest option to reach the park is the milk truck or lechero (COP$10,000). It leaves Güicán at 05:30 everyday, reaches El Cocuy around 06:00 and then goes up towards the Sierra to collect milk before going back to Güicán. It can drop you at various location close to the cabanas. If you miss the milk truck or want to go later, you can hire someone to drive you in a private car, but this is a much more expensive option (COP$90,000).
- Peaks: Ritacubas, Pan de Azucar, El Castillo and Pulpito del Diablo.
- Lagunas: Los Verdes, Laguna Grande de la Sierra, La Isla, La Plaza y El Avellanal
- Hotel Casa Muñoz, Carrera 5 No 7-28 (On the main square), ☏ , , , , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Hotel Villa Real, Calle 7 No 4-50, ☏ , , , ✉ email@example.com. Family-run hostel close to the main square that offers dark rooms with hard beds and TV. Single with shared bath COP$12,000.
- Cabaña Hotel El Edén, Transversal 2 No 9-58 Urbanización Villa Nevada (10 min walk from the center), ☏ , , , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Very clean rooms with wooden ceilings and private bathrooms. Duplex rooms on the 1st floor that sleep up to 5 persons with nice views of the valley. Very friendly owners. Single with bath COP$15,000.
- Hotel El Frailejón, Carrera 4 No 3–34 (On the main square), ☏ . Cheapest option in town.
- Hacienda La Esperanza.
- Cabañas Kanwarra.
- Posada Sierra Nevada. Double beds COP$30,000.
- Herrera, ☏ . Campground with toilets and showers.
- Cabana Laguna Pintada. Single COP$35,000.
- Internet (Elpino.com), Carrera 3 No 8-53 (In front of the townhall). Until 20:00.
- ATM (Banco Agraria de Colombia), Corner of calle 8 and carrera 4. Only ATM in town.
- Park office, Calle 8a No 4-74, ✉ email@example.com.
- Internet (Guic@n net) (Follow the road from the lower corner opposite the church of the main plaza). M-Sa 09:00-12:00, 14:00-20:00; Su 14:00-20:00.