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Hiking in Colombia: Checklist of 23 Essential Items to Bring

Natural National Chingaza park

Updated on 02/27/2024

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!

Colombia is the ideal destination for nature and hiking enthusiasts. This country offers unique places to explore on foot, with landscapes ranging from tropical jungles to snow-capped mountain peaks. So, what items should you bring? Today, I will tell you about all the necessary elements for hiking in Colombia.

What is hiking like in Colombia?

Well, hiking through natural landscapes is a very common activity in Colombia. The reason is that there is a great variety of ecosystems, and there are numerous reserves and national parks that offer this service. In fact, there are currently 23 national parks enabled for ecotourism.

Each of these parks, trails, and reserves has varied characteristics and ecosystems that make the requirements different when walking through them. Therefore, to have a comfortable and safe journey, it is essential to bring suitable equipment.

Next, I will talk about the general and specialized equipment you need, according to the difficulty level of the trail:

Moderate

The terrain is flat, asphalted or paved and clearly marked. It is not very long and does not require excessive physical effort. Suitable for the whole family.

Medium

The terrain is mostly uncovered, there is unevenness, moisture and mud. The route requires significant physical effort and is not suitable for people with reduced mobility.

Difficult

The terrain is largely uncovered, there are steep climbs, uncertain weather conditions and high physical demands. The route is usually long and not suitable for the elderly, those with heart and respiratory diseases, children under 8 years old or pregnant women.

General Equipment for Hiking in Colombia

Difficulty Level: Moderate to Medium
Type of Trail: This type of equipment is practical for paved, wet, cobbled trails with ascents ranging from easy to somewhat challenging.

Backpack:

It’s important to carry a sturdy, ergonomic, waterproof, and lightweight backpack to carry your personal items and hiking equipment. Make sure it has adjustable and padded straps.

Personal Documentation:

Bring your identification documents and emergency contact information.

Cash:

Carrying enough cash is crucial because in some remote areas and small towns, online payments may not work. Keep in mind that there may be an emergency or you might need supplies to continue your route.

Appropriate Footwear:

A pair of sturdy sneakers or hiking boots is essential to give good support for your feet, prevent chafing injuries, and protect you from sharp stones and roots.

If your trail has wet or muddy sections, I recommend using shoes with good grip or swamp boots.

Appropriate Clothing:

In areas like paramos and mountain peaks, where hiking is common, the weather can be very varied. So, find out about the typical weather conditions of the place and wear clothing according to that climate and trail conditions.

Start with a waterproof jacket, comfortable long-boot pants, and a cap. When engaging in physical activities, wear lycra or nylon clothing.

Don’t forget to bring a raincoat for humid or rainy climates.

If you plan to swim, have swimwear and water shoes, such as water shoes.

If the weather on your trail is cold, bring a jacket, gloves, and a hat.

Food and Hydration:

Caloric foods are essential to maintain your energy level during walks. You can bring, for example:

  • Granola bars
  • Nuts
  • Fruits
  • Energy bars or gels
  • Dark chocolate

Regarding hydration, carry at least one liter of water per person. You can also drink electrolyte beverages.

Location Tools:

To avoid getting lost, carry a compass, the map with the route, and your phone with enough battery and internet.

First Aid Kit:

Include basic items in your kit, such as:

  • Bandages of various sizes
  • Gauze
  • Surgical tape
  • Wound disinfectant
  • Scissors
  • Pain relievers
  • Whistle
  • Personal medications
  • Disposable gloves

And other necessary supplies in case of minor injuries.

Hiking Pole:

A good hiking pole can assist you in your ascent and descent during walks. There are rigid and foldable poles; I recommend a foldable one for its compactness and ease of transport.

Headlamp: 

A headlamp is useful if you plan to walk at night or in conditions where there is little light.

Sun Protection Items:

Use sunscreen with SPF 50 (sun protection factor) and a hat or cap when walking in warm places or at altitudes above 4,000 meters (13,123 feet) above sea level. It is also recommended to use sun protection in any case when exposing yourself to the sun.

You can also protect yourself from the sun by wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants.

Insect Repellent:

Repellent prevents annoying insect bites, which are common in warm areas of the country. However, I advise you to use a natural repellent that does not have harmful chemical components because it is believed that if used in large quantities, they pollute water sources or the local fauna. It’s a simple way to reduce your environmental impact.

Trash Bags:

You cannot leave garbage on the trails. So, you can transport it in bags and then deposit it in the bins at park service centers or urban trash points.

Multipurpose Knife:

The multipurpose knife can be used to cut vegetation, open food, or in case of an emergency.

Specialized Equipment for Hiking in Colombia

Difficulty Level: Difficult
Type of Trail: These types of items are useful when hiking challenging routes. Whether they are very extensive routes, the terrain is muddy and snowy, there are steep slopes, there are water sources. Or, when you have to make long and steep ascents.

General Equipment:

All those elements are indispensable when hiking in Colombia, even more so on demanding routes.

Camping Permit:

In some places, a camping permit is required. For example, in areas belonging to indigenous communities in Colombian national parks. Check in advance if the place where you will camp requires it.

High Mountain Boots:

These high mountain boots are designed to keep your feet warm and dry under extreme conditions. Similarly, to provide stability on uneven terrain.

Specialized Clothing:

Includes waterproof jackets, light or thermal shirts if the temperature requires it, and water-resistant pants. I recommend bringing basic change clothes for walks, such as shirts, lightweight jackets, and pants.

Ropes:

Ropes serve multiple purposes. For example, securing the tent or assisting you in your ascent.

Waterproof Boots:

Also called swamp boots, they are footwear that will protect your feet from water and mud. Farmers in Colombia often use these boots for their work on farms and their travels. Use them only in areas with mud or bodies of water, as they are not ideal for walking long distances.

GPS:

These location devices are vital for navigation. With some types of GPS devices, you can even make calls or send messages in remote areas.

Oxygen Mask:

Additional oxygen is important when ascending peaks at high altitudes, such as climbing Nevado del Cocuy, at 5,410 meters (17,749 feet) above sea level. Normally, when ascending to such high places, it is necessary to be accompanied by guides. They usually provide and transport oxygen masks. However, if you go alone to a site with that altitude, you must carry it yourself.

Sunglasses and Snow Goggles:

High mountain glasses protect the eyes from UV rays and strong cold winds.

Camping Kit:

It is common to camp on some long hiking routes. Therefore, if you plan to camp, you should prepare this list of essential items:

  • Camping tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Mattresses or sleeping pads
  • Blankets (thermal, if necessary)
  • Lantern
  • Cooking kit (including portable stove with its respective fuel, pots, plates, cutlery, glasses, and can opener).
  • Non-perishable foods and drinks
  • Multi-purpose tools
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Trash bags

Important

Although camping is allowed in some national parks and reserves, that does not mean that cooking is ideal. First, because carrying the kit could be heavy, and second, because flammable or plastic items are prohibited for the integrity of the ecosystem. So, I advise you to inquire about prohibitions and bring already prepared foods. Or, heat the food only if strictly necessary, such as in cold climates.

Adapt the Hiking Equipment to Your Route

Are the mentioned elements the only ones for all routes? No, this list is a base that you can use as a guide when organizing your equipment. However, when choosing these elements, take into account:

  • The climate of the place where you will hike (seasonal and rainy conditions)
  • The conditions of the route
  • Your physical conditions
  • The characteristics of the surrounding area
  • Keeping this in mind will help you choose the most appropriate and practical elements for hiking in Colombia.

More nature tourism experiences in Colombia

Here you will find a list of incredible destinations for hiking and other nature activities in Colombia:

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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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