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Discover Colombia’s Top 11 Frailejones Viewing Spots

Frailejones in Chingaza Park

Updated on 06/07/2024

Dear reader,
I would also like to recommend our Colombia travel guide, which provides a perfect overview of the tourist attractions in Colombia. Enjoy reading it!

Looking for the perfect frailejon experience? We take you on a unique journey through Colombia, where we will reveal the landscapes that are home to these giant plants.

Why are Frailejones Important?

You’ve probably never heard about frailejones, but they are important as they act like a sponge. Essentially, they capture water from the clouds and release it slowly, ensuring a steady water supply in mountainous areas.

They also provide environmental shelter to thousands of species of flora and fauna. The water regulation role of the frailejón is fundamental for maintaining balance in the country’s ecosystems.

Where to See Frailejones in Colombia

Before we dive in, it’s important to note that you should have a local tour guide with you if you plan to enter any of the moors mentioned below.

Ocetá Moor

Location: Municipality of Monguí in the department of Boyacá, about 59 miles from Tunja.

Access: It is free, however, we recommend getting a local guide for this expedition.

Ocetá Moor isn’t just a place for ecotourism; it’s considered the most beautiful moor on the planet due to being one of the most complete and well-preserved in Colombia. Here, you’ll find Colombian Andean flora and fauna at altitudes exceeding 13,123 feet above sea level.

Frailejones are found throughout much of the moor, but there are some areas where they’re more concentrated, ideal for photography, such as the Penagos Waterfall, the Stone City, and the Black Lagoon. It’s a perfect stop for ecotourism!

Activities and Services

  • Flora and fauna sighting.
  • Ecological hikes or trekking.
  • Waterfall climbing.

It’s important to note that the moors lacks tourist infrastructure, so there are no restaurants, accommodation, or public bathrooms. Camping in the moor is also not allowed.

How to Get There

  • You can access these areas by car from the town of Monguí, about half an hour away, or by walking for about 3 to 4 hours.
  • To reach Monguí from Tunja, you can take a bus from the transport terminal via the Paipa-Duitama-Nobsa-Belencito-Monguí route, approximately an hour and a half journey.
  • From Bogotá, take a bus from the transport terminal and find a direct route to Sogamoso in Boyacá. Once there, take another bus to Monguí.

Frontino or del Sol Moor

Location: About 10,5 miles from the town of Urrao and 99 miles from Medellín in the department of Antioquia.

Access: Some trails have a cost, such as the Proaves trail, while others are free, like trail 14.

Frontino or del Sol Moor is one of the most important ecosystems for water conservation and biodiversity in the region.

This place is popular because it’s said that once you arrive here, you can walk on the clouds, thanks to its altitude of over 13,123 feet above sea level. It’s the highest point in Antioquia.

If you want to see frailejones here, you can access them via two trails: trail 14 and Proaves. The former is free, while the latter has a cost. Besides being a trail to see frailejones, you’ll also spot hundreds of species of hummingbirds.

I recommend camping in the moor to enjoy the landscape, flora, and fauna of the area. For this, you should hire a tour guide.

Services and Activities

  • Trekking.
  • Night hikes.
  • Andean flora and fauna sighting.

The establishment lacks tourist infrastructure. If you want to camp for a few days, you should bring a tent and a sleeping bag.

How to Get There

From Medellín, you need to get to the town of Urrao in Antioquia. You can do this by taking a bus from the transport terminal.

Once in Urrao, take a traditional bus (chiva) that will take you to the moor, approximately an hour and a half. You’ll start to see the moor as you’ll notice the clouds at your level.

Santurbán Moor

Location: Between the departments of Norte de Santander and Santander, about 44,7 miles from Bucaramanga.

Access: The entry has a cost.

Santurbán Moor is not only a very beautiful place due to its endemic flora and fauna but it’s also one of the most important hydrographic reserves in the region, as it supplies water to many cities and municipalities nearby.

If you want to see frailejones, I recommend visiting the parks in the area, such as:

  • Sisavita Regional Natural Park
  • Santurbán – Salazár de las Palmas Regional Natural Park
  • Santurbán – Arboledas Regional Natural Park
  • Santurbán – Mutiscua Pamplona Regional Natural Park.

If you visit any of these parks, you’ll notice that frailejones usually grow around the lagoons and wetlands in each of these places.

Services and Activities

  • Tourism with nearby communities
  • Ecological hiking
  • Flora and fauna sighting

The moor lacks tourist infrastructure. However, within the moor areas, you can camp and connect with nature, so be sure to bring your tent and sleeping bag!

How to Get There

From Bucaramanga or Cúcuta, you can take a bus from the transport terminal and head to one of these municipalities that have entry to the moor, which takes between 3 and 4 hours.

  • Tona
  • Vetas
  • California
  • Suratá
  • Matanza
  • Charta

However, the easiest route is from Bucaramanga to the town of Vetas.

Once in Vetas, take a jeep to the moor entry base near “La Laguna Pintada,” which is the starting point. From Vetas, you’ll go back and forth the same day if you take a jeep. If you have more time, you can walk and camp for a few days.

Guantiva – La Rusia Moor

Location: Within the municipalities of Belén, Cerinza, Duitama, Nobsa, Paipa, Soatá, Sotaquira, Susacon, and Tutuazas, about 23 municipalities in Boyacá and Santander.

Access:

  • Some areas of the moor, like the Guatená – Alto Río Fonce Flora and Fauna Sanctuary, have an entry fee.
  • Areas like the La Rusia Municipal Natural Park have no cost, but I recommend making a voluntary donation to support ecosystem conservation.

Guantiva – La Rusia Moor is a complex of moors and Andean forests covering over 116,000 hectares, hosting plants adapted to extreme climatic conditions. It’s probably the largest place for frailejones plantations in the country, where you can spot 14 endemic species of frailejones.

You must visit La Rusia Municipal Park, where you’ll find about 250 hectares where you can see numerous endemic plantations like the “Espeletia paipana,” a beautiful regional frailejón endangered species.

Services and Activities

  • Flora and fauna sighting.
  • Ecological walks.
  • Mountain biking.
  • You can camp in the areas that allow you to do so, if not, you can negotiate your stay with the owners of the local farms nearby.

How to Get There

The only access is through the Chontales – Lagunas – La Rusia Moor subsector.

From Bogotá or Tunja, you should get to Duitama (Boyacá) and take the Charalá road, an unpaved road to Virolín town until you reach the moor area in the Buenos Aires sector.

There, take the road to Ecino municipality, and in the moor area, you’ll find the Peñas Negras military base entrance, where you’ll finally enter.

Belmira Moor

Location: In the municipality of Belmira, 37 miles from Medellín, Antioquia.

Access: The entry has a cost

Belmira Moor is a very important place since 70% of the population in Antioquia depends on the water that originates from this place, as frailejones contribute to the water supply and is a strong point for ecotourism in the region.

Here, you can see frailejones up to 6,5 feet high (espeletias), especially if you hike to Bebedero Lagoon or Espejo de Agua, where you’ll enjoy Antioquia’s landscapes full of frailejones, lagoons, and grasslands.

Services and Activities

  • Lodging in cabins near the moor.
  • Trekking.
  • Viewpoints for flora and fauna sighting.

How to Get There

From Medellín, it’s quite easy. Just take a bus from any of the city’s transport terminals heading to the municipality of Belmira, which will drop you off at the main square, where a local guide will be waiting for you, about a 2-hour journey.

For more information, you can contact Páramos de Colombia to schedule a visit to any moor in the country. They will provide information for you to go with a local guide.

Recommendations Before Entering the Moors

  • Sunscreen.
  • Sunglasses.
  • Balaclava or head protection.
  • Thermal or thick clothing and an extra change in case of rain (preferably waterproof clothing or a coat).
  • Comfortable hiking shoes or outdoor boots.
  • Have a good physical condition.
  • You need to bring food.
  • Don’t litter within the moors.

Chingaza National Natural Park

Location: Between the departments of Cundinamarca and Meta, covering the jurisdictions of ten municipalities and comprising the basins of the Negro, Gualtiquía and Guavio rivers.

Price: The entry has a cost.

Chingaza National Natural Park is a natural mountainous ancestral reserve with over 76,000 hectares of moor and Andean forest, inhabited by Andean tribes such as the Muisca and Guayupe. An excellent destination to see frailejones.

If you want to see frailejones, you can explore the Rincón del Oso and Los Musgos trails, known for being very peaceful paths, especially for trekking, surrounded by a huge valley of frailejones.

One of the advantages is that frailejones in this place bloom between June and August, perfect for capturing photos! During these times, hummingbirds also come to pollinate the plants.

Services and Activities

  • Restaurant.
  • Camping area.
  • Visitor center.
  • Auditorium.
  • Hiking.
  • Photography and videos.
  • Wildlife watching.

How to Get There

  • From Bogotá, the nearest city, take the La Calera road, passing by the Cementos Samper ruins and Buenos Aires. After 13,6 miles, you’ll reach the attention post at Piedras Gordas, where you’ll find the park entrance and the Siecha Lagoons sector.
  • You can only access by private or hired vehicle, there’s no public transportation. If you travel during the rainy season, it’s better to bring a four-wheel-drive vehicle.

Visit Chingaza National Natural Park website for more information.

Los Nevados National Natural Park

Location: In the municipalities of Villa María (Caldas), Salento (Quindío), Santa Rosa de Cabal (Risaralda), Líbano, Villa Hermosa, Santa Isabel, and Ibagué (Tolima).

Access: The entry has a cost.

Los Nevados National Natural Park is a park that houses high mountain landscapes and glaciers in the Andes mountain range, covering over 1930 square miles, being a refuge for endemic species in the region.

Frailejones are found in most of the moor zones in the park. If you want to see frailejones, you can go to the Brisas sector, located at 13451 feet above sea level, near the Nevado del Ruiz volcano, and admire the regional landscape.

As another option, you can go to the Laguna del Otún sector, a wetland with a huge water reservoir of great international importance for biological studies, located at about 12795 feet above sea level.

If you’re still not satisfied, you can hike in the Cocora sector, where you’ll not only see frailejones but also the wax palms, the tallest palms in the world, through a dense foggy forest.

Services and Activities

  • Restaurants.
  • Lodging.
  • Food and hydration.
  • Hiking.
  • Mountaineering.
  • Induction talk (mandatory)
  • Bird watching.
  • Flora and fauna observation.
  • Geological observation.

How to Get There

  • From Manizales, take transportation via the Bogotá route, detouring at mile 28 to the La Esperanza tourist stop and then to the Murillo municipality crossroad in Tolima. After 3280 feet, you’ll reach the entrance via the Brisas sector.
  • From Pereira, you can access the central and southwest sectors of the park by taking the road that goes through Santa Rosa del Cabal – La Linda – Potosí, then continue on the path to Laguna del Otún.
  • From Armenia, take the Armenia- Salento – Cocora Valley route. Once in Cocora, start climbing on foot along the path leading to the Romeral moor and Tolima department.

For more information about visiting this park, check the official website.

El Cocuy National Natural Park

Location: Within the departments of Arauca, Boyacá, and Casanare, 153 miles from Tunja and 221 miles from Yopal.

Access: The entry has a cost.

El Cocuy National Natural Park is one of the country’s most important protected areas, characterized by its landscapes, valleys, glaciers, and moors, ideal for observing wildlife and flora.

If you want to see frailejones, you can visit the general outdoor recreation area, located above 13123 feet above sea level in the vicinity of the Sierra Nevada. Here you’ll find the main trails and lagoons where extensive fields of frailejones are located.

Some recommended places:

  • Portón de Lagunillas.
  • Pulpito del Diablo.
  • Laguna Grande de la Sierra.
  • El Valle de los Frailejones.

Services and Activities

  • The park doesn’t offer accommodation or restaurants as they only receive day visitors.
  • Induction talks (mandatory)
  • Hiking.
  • Flora and fauna sighting.
  • Geological observation.

How to Get There

  • From Tunja, you can take a bus and follow the Duitama- Santa Rosa- Cerinza- Belén – Susacón route until you reach Soatá. From there, you can take 2 routes that head towards the Cocuy and Guican municipalities, about a 6-hour journey.
  • From Bucaramanga, you can go by private car or take a bus from the transport terminal, arrive at Málaga municipality, then to Capitanejo, El Espino, Panqueba, and finally El Cocuy or Guican, an 8 to 12-hour journey.
  • From the Eastern Plains, you can access through Yopal, Belén, Sogamoso, Duitama, Belén, Soatá, and from there to El Cocuy or Guican, a 10 to 12-hour journey.

We invite you to check El Cocuy National Natural Park website for more information.

Puracé National Natural Park

Location: Between the municipalities of Puracé, San Sebastián, Sotará, Almaguer in the Cauca department. Also municipalities of La Plata, San José de los Isnos, Saladoblanco, and San Agustín in the Huila department.

Access: The entry has a cost.

Puracé National Natural Park is known for being a volcanic area, and the main rivers of Colombia, such as the Magdalena, Cauca, Pátia, and Caquetá, originate here.

To see frailejones in this place, you should visit the elevated areas of the park, near the lagoons and volcanoes, such as at the San Rafael Lagoon or near the Puracé volcano itself, or also at the Condor Lookout at 11,811 feet above sea level, surrounded by a sea of frailejones and other endemic plants of the region. Don’t forget to bring your camera for this occasion.

Activities and Services

  • Hiking.
  • Wildlife observation.
  • Camping zones.
  • Cabins.
  • Restaurants.

How to Get There

From Cali, take a bus at the transport terminal to Popayán in Cauca, about a 4-hour journey.

Once in Popayán, take the road to La Plata (Huila), about 27,3 miles to the Puracé municipality and the San Rafael Lagoon.

Before reaching the lagoon, you must take a detour to the Pilimbalá administrative center, an hour from Popayán.

If you need more information, you can visit the official website.

Pisba National Natural Park

Location: Between the municipalities of Mongua, Socha, Tasco, Jericó, Pisba, and Socotá in the Boyacá department, about 111 miles from Tunja.

Access: The entry has a cost

In this park, if you want to see frailejones, I recommend some places decorated with these plantations, such as the Soldier’s Trail, the Libertadora Route, where the troops of the Colombian liberator Simón Bolívar crossed to reach the Battle of Boyacá, which would define Colombia’s independence from the Spanish.

Also, the Ecological Corridor, a huge corridor full of clouds, lagoons, and frailejones that decorate the park. Moreover, this trail connects with El Cocuy National Natural Park, one of the country’s most popular.

Services and Activities

  • Trekking.
  • Wildlife observation.
  • Camping.

However, you must coordinate the activities to be carried out with the protected area team through [email protected], so they can provide you with the corresponding support.

How to Get There

  • From Tunja, follow the Paipa-Duitama route- Peace of the River. Through that route, travel to the Los Pinos or El Cardón villages. From those points, take the mule paths that cross the Pisba moor, more than 5 hours of travel.
  • From Yopal, there’s also a route from the transport terminal that leads to the Pisba town. From there, you can take the roads that enter the moor, more than 3 hours of travel.

You can request more information by visiting the official website.

Matarredonda Park

Location: Road Bogotá-Choachí, approximately about 112,4 miles from Bogotá, in Cundinamarca.

Access: The entry has a cost

Matarredonda Park is a moor ecosystem that offers a bunch of ecological trails, lagoons, and waterfalls which you can explore more freely, it’s an ideal place to appreciate biodiversity, rest, and disconnect from cities.

Here you can observe different types of frailejones such as Espeletia grandiflora, Espeletia uribei, and Espeletia argéntea, which are distributed in different trails and areas of the park, such as Teusacá Lagoon, Abuela Waterfalls, Tunjos Lookout, and Cara de Indio.

In addition, you can decide to access with or without tour guide service, if you want to tour the park at your leisure. We recommend you arrive early at 9:00 a.m., since the hikes last about 5 hours, so you can rest for the rest of the day.

Services and activities

  • Parking lot.
  • Guide service.
  • Refreshments.
  • Activity room.
  • Restrooms.
  • Ecological walks.
  • Hiking.
  • Tree planting.
  • Ecological tourism.

How to get there?

From Bogotá you must take a Transoriente or Cootransfómeque bus, exactly on Calle 6 with Avenida Caracas. These buses travel on the Bogotá- Choachí road through the Circunvalar street exit. The trip can take from 40 minutes to an hour. You will tell the driver to stop at the Matarredonda Ecological Park, which will be on your right.

Book now your ticket to Matarredonda Park website and find out about the offers we have prepared for you!

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About Author

Frank

Frank

Hello! I'm Frank Spitzer, the founder and the heart behind Pelecanus, a specialized tour operator for Colombia travel. My journey in travel is vast and rich – I've explored over 60 countries, absorbing cultures, experiences, and stories along the way. Since 2017, I've been channeling this wealth of global experience into creating unforgettable travel experiences in Colombia. I'm recognized as a leading authority in Colombian tourism, with a deep-seated passion for sharing this beautiful country with the world. You can catch glimpses of my travel adventures and insights around Colombia on my YouTube channel. I'm also active on social media platforms like TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, where I share the vibrant culture and stunning landscapes of Colombia. For professional networking, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn. Join me on this incredible journey, and let's explore the wonders of Colombia together!

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