- Starting Point: Minca
- Difficulty Level: Moderate
- Duration: Two days
- Highest Point Reached: 2,700m
- Elevation Gain: 2,100m
A local at ‘Casa Loma’ in Minca, a wonderful small mountain town in the Sierra Nevada of Colombia, gave us the tip to hike to a place called Cerro Kennedy, also known as ‘la Cuchillo de San Lorenzo’. A remote spot that provides amazing views of the highest mountains in the country on the one side and the Caribbean Coast on the other. If you love hiking, the mountains and camping this is your perfect two-day adventure.
Since most of the Sierra Nevada is not exploited by tourism yet, our journey felt like a big adventure into the unknown. A wonderful feeling.
Besides members of the Kogi tribe, a unique spiritual and indigenous community inhabiting amongst other tribes the Sierra Nevada of Colombia, we did not meet anyone along the way, so we basically had the view for ourselves.
During the hike we took some steep short cuts through the rainforest, which saved us a bit of time to set up our camp before sunset. On the way you find an amazing biodiversity and a lot of waterfalls.
Halfway through the hike up, clouds were rolling in and totally changed the set up. As we were on our own a slightly eerie feeling came up.
The stunning mountain range of the Sierra Nevada is the largest seaside mountain system in the world and possesses Colombia’s two largest mountains Pico Cristobal Colon and Pico Simon Bolivar. Ranging 5,700m above sea level, Pico Cristobal Colon is not only Colombia’s highest mountain, but also the world’s tallest coastal mountain.
Cerro Kennedy is an operating military base, once you see this place, you can be sure you have taken the right route. The soldiers were super friendly and let us camp close to their base without any charge.
If you don’t own a tent, there is also the possibility to stop by in San Lorenzo, which is not as the name implies a town, but there is a hostel that provides accommodation.
We left Minca around 6am in the morning to arrive at the top in the afternoon this gave us some time to relax before setting up our camp. In the afternoon clouds were rolling in and it was an amazing feeling to lie in the grass in the middle of nowhere, absorbing the sun amongst the clouds and enjoying an enormous view on the Caribbean coast.
Luckily we picked a clear day, which resulted in a stunning sunset view ranging all the way from Barranquilla to Parque de Tayrona. The sunrise view the next morning was a highlight as well.
The hike back to Minca provides you constantly stunning views of the Caribbean Coast of Colombia.
On our journey back to Minca we stopped by at a local, organic coffee farm to finally get a taste of the amazing Colombian coffee, a great treat after a long hike. For $2,50 you get a full tour of the farm and the coffee process and certainly endless coffee.
The hike up takes around 8 hours and 7 hours all the way back to Minca, if you are well in shape. The track is not marked at all so make sure to stick to the main path. Note that the nights are cold and we only stumpled upon one small store along the way, so make sure to bring enough clothes, food and water and in case you have difficulties with altitude bring some tablets.
Taking a moto for half an hour to the next little town is highly recommended and saved us an hour of hiking, but you can also hire a local driver for the whole way up and back. Make sure to leave early because you can only get clear views of the peaks in the morning and the evenings.
Side note: Since the Sierra Nevada home to more than 30,000 Natives from four different unique Colombian tribes make sure to treat this place with respect and also respect the ‘Elder Brothers’ that are taking care of this wonderful place on Earth, their heart of the world, by making offerings to the sacred sites to give back what actually was taken out of it.
About the Writer:
Regina Röder has traded home for the road nine years ago in order to seek adventures all the way from the wavy beaches of Australia to the mountains of Canada and lots of places in between. Her excitement and passion for photography and film production has driven her journey, but her love for the outdoors has always brought her back to her favourite two elements: The oceans and the mountains. Currently based in South America, she is looking forward to explore remote places, catch waves, climb mountains and chase sunsets while documenting her journey.