This post has been so long in coming because I was trying to learn how to edit go pro videos and get a video up…turns out I had to do a lot of things to my poor little computer before it was able to cope with it! This is all just ridiculously complicated in my opinion 🙂
This is going to be a short post in terms of words but I’m hoping to get a bit of video ready so you can see what it’s really like!
We left Refugio la Roca after breakfast, maneuvering our small car down the steep track to the road, and then driving back across the plateau and down the winding roads at the end to the main road. This was the main route between Bucaramanga and Bogota and so it was absolutely filled with trucks and lorries – but it was not a main road as we would know it!
One single lane on each side wound its way downhill between steep cliffs to cross the river at the bottom, before climbing for miles up a steep, twisting road the other side of the canyon. The trucks slowed almost to a standstill trying to climb this road and so we got very good at overtaking whenever possible, and at looking ahead so we could overtake on bends as well!
The road flattened out slightly once it reached the ridge at the top and a short while later, we came across the entrance to the national park at the narrowest point of the hilltop. To one side we could see the Chicamocha canyon, and the flat top of the Mesa de los Santos, to the other, another steep drop and a further ridge of mountains rising high into the distance.
The national park was wierd. It seemed so horribly fake with lots of brand new buildings, paved spaces for walking, zip wires for children and NO shade. None whatsoever. It was awful and put me in quite a bad mood! The other thing that was annoying was that the cable car across the canyon, the reason we’d come into the national park, was only open at certain times, meaning you had to go across the canyon, wait at the other side for an hour and a half, and then come back. It all seemed like a bit of manipulation to me, to try to get you to spend money at the restaurant and attractions on the other side, and was very annoying!
We had an ice cream and queued up for the cable car – it was really quite busy although the park itself had seemed empty. Everyone else that we saw getting on the cable cars seemed to be Colombian. We went over the canyon and it really was incredible, descending down the steep slopes then across the river at the bottom where there were numerous trucks doing some kind of industry. It looked as if they were extracting stuff from the river but who knows.
The cable car then started to ascend up the other side of the canyon, up to Mesa de Los Santos. We passed numerous tiny houses on the mountain side, miles away from any paved road, and even that paved road was miles away from any kind of town! There was even a school which was quite incredible. But the only living things we saw were the goats, perched on improbable rocky mountain ledges.
At the top, we saw people still queuing for the cable car back to the other side and realised that if we were quick we could probably make it. We dashed around, out of the building, through the entrance, and then back to the front, where the friendly man operating the system let us wait for our own private cable car. So we were on our way back!
The whole cable car experience was really great and worthwhile – but the national park was not in my opinion!
We had lunch at a restaurant overlooking the canyon and then set off again on the twisting, winding road, towards Barichara.