Tuesday 27 February 2024

Big bird watching and a splash of bubbling colour

 So far, Colombia seems beautiful and today exceeded all our expectations, especially of the bird life!!

We visited the National Park Purace, a few hours from Popayan, to hike the volcano and explore the national park. Sadly, we weren't allowed to hike up the volcano as it is on yellow alert, which means there is strong volcanic activity so it's not safe.

The national park is run by the local indigenous community, and so to visit the national park, we had to take a guide. Our guide called Luis Alexandro and was only 13 years old! Apparently, he's been a national park guide for two years so he started at my age. His dad is also a guide, and we met him later on. Luis Alexandro seemed so confident. We asked him whether there were other children who were guides at the national park and he said that he was the only one. The main reason why he loves being a guide is to meet people, which is something that I like to do as well. 

Although we weren't able to hike to the volcano, we did see...the famous Andean condors!! Our first stop was a view point where one of the national park rangers fed a female condor beef off a stick. It was amazing to watch from so close but it felt a bit odd to see such a large beast almost tame! Our guide told us that the condor was introduced in the national park two years ago, and still needed to learn to scavenge. In the meantime, the rangers need to feed it to keep it alive. 

After that, we visited the thermals of San Juan where we saw the bubbling and boiling colourful springs. Unlike other springs we've been to in South America (and we have been to A LOT of springs), you couldn't swim in these because they were either too hot or too cold so not an enjoyable experience either way. The colours of the water were amazing and I enjoyed watching the water bubble up. One of the springs had a very strong smell of sulphur (a bit like rotten eggs) so we had to pass it quickly. 

Apparently, sometimes tapirs come down to the thermals but we weren't lucky enough to see them when we visited. They also have a coloured dear, ocelot and spectacle bear in the area but we didn't see any of these.

Moving up north tomorrow for a fun weekend in a campsite up the hills. 

1 comment:

  1. Condors, how amazing! what a shame you couldn't look into the volcano, but I'm glad they were being careful. Maybe you don't remember the bad egg smell in some places in the Acores/ Azores; even the hot baths smelled of it. Happy memories of Easter holidays - how long ago? Ismene was very small and rode across a landslip i an extinct volcanic crater on Dan's shoulders. Love to all, Sal