Lengerke Hiking Trail in Colombia – One of the best hikes in Colombia

Last updated on November 13th, 2022 at 12:47 pm

Dear readers

My name is Frank and I run a travel agency in Bogota, Colombia.

With its three Andean cordilleras, diverse ecosystems and two different seas, Colombia has enormous potential for hiking tourism. I did one of the probably most spectacular hikes in October 2022.

An introduction to the Lengerke trail in Colombia

Georg Ernst Heinrich von Lengerke was born in Germany in 1827 and died in Colombia in 1882. In 1852, at the age of 25, he left Germany and emigrated to Colombia, where he settled in the department of Santander.

As an entrepreneur he became wealthy and as a trained engineer he organized transport routes for his trade. His goods had to be transported from the department of Santander to the Magdalena River, where the goods could then be shipped to the Atlantic coast.

Some of the transport routes were already used by the indigenous and pre -Columbian civilizations, but Lengerke continued to expand them with stones and also built bridges over the rivers.

Today the Lengerke hiking trail leads through the following villages:

San Vicente de Chucuri – Zapatoca – Guane & Barichara – Jordan – Los Santos

Start from San Vicente de Chucuri to the 1st stage

Altitude San Vicente de Chucuri: 700 meters (2,300 feet) above sea level

Total distance: 18 kilometers (11.2 miles)

Altitude ProAves: 1,400 meters (4,600 feet) above sea level (starting point)

Highest point: 2,450 meters (8,000 feet) above sea level

Altitude difference uphill: 1,300 meters (4,300 feet)

Altitude difference downhill: 1,000 meters (3,300 feet)

San Vicente de Chucuri is a small village about a two-hour drive from the capital, Bucaramanga. It is also known as the cocoa capital of Colombia.

I recommend arriving early the day before so that you can get to know the village. In addition, you should taste the various products made from cocoa in the village and, if possible, visit a cocoa farm to learn about the process of cocoa cultivation.

There are a few hotels for overnight stays. For weekends with official holidays, however, it is better to reserve in advance.

You should start the first day of hiking early and it gets light from 5:30 a.m. Then you need a transport (motorcycle or 4×4), which drive up to the ProAves bird sanctuary.

First, the path leads through the agricultural zone with cows, then it goes into the forest, in the Serrania de Los Yariguies, a national park and protected area. The path is very good and you don’t really need any other navigation tools. It is also very unlikely to get lost here. Now the climb of around 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) begins. The path is partly not very well maintained and overgrown with plants and fallen trees may block the path and you have to climb over it.

Due to the vegetation and the altitude, the temperature is very pleasant because you are in a tropical forest with lots of ferns. But you shouldn’t touch any plants or use them as an aid if you’re a little unsure. Many trees and shrubs have sharp spikes that can easily injure you. Personally, I still have a few spikes in my skin.

Shortly after reaching the maximum altitude, the landscape suddenly turns into a coniferous forest and the path becomes a lot more open. After another section of the path, you leave the forest and come to the edge of the mountain, where you can enjoy a magnificent view of the valley and the other side.

The descent is very relaxed and the path is very good. The climate is changing and the temperature is steadily getting warmer. The landscape here looks totally different. A little later the path turns into an unpaved road. Closer to civilization, one is confronted with waste again, unfortunately.

The descent ends at a small river. A little further, after a bend, there is a small shop where you can also refresh yourself. There I organized a motorbike to Zapatoca. The drive there took around 20 minutes.

Difficulty San Vicente de Chucuri – Zapatoca

Difficulty depends a bit on local conditions. The path is very good, but can be very strenuous depending on the weather conditions when the ground is soft or slippery. Fallen trees can also block the path and you may have to climb.

With a good basic level of fitness, the distance and the vertical meters are easy to manage.

Zapatoca

Zapatoca is a pretty village at around 1,700 meters (5,600 feet) above sea level with approximately 9,000 inhabitants. If you still have time and energy after arrival, you should definitely go on a discovery walk.

There are a few hotels in the village. However, there are also countless festivals in Zapatoca, which makes it loud at night. You should visit the Guane viewpoint. In fact, from there you have a view of the whole valley and as far as Guane, part of the route for the next day.

2nd stage Zapatoca to Barichara

Total distance: 17 kilometers (10,6 miles)

The altitude of Zapatoca airfield: 1,850 meters (6,100 feet) above sea level (starting point)

Highest point: 1,850 meters (6,100 feet) above sea level

Lowest point: 450 meters (1,500 feet) above sea level

Altitude difference uphill: 770 meters (2,500 feet)

Altitude difference downhill: 1,500 meters (5,000 feet)

The 2nd stage of the Lengerke trail begins at the Zapatoca airfield. It first goes along the airfield and soon you have to turn left, down the hill. After crossing the road for the first time, you will then find a dangerous section. It’s very slippery and very steep. I recommend taking the detour there and walking along the street.

The path is otherwise in very good condition and the subsequent climb is not unpleasant either. The climate changes from humid to very dry and the temperature is steadily increasing. With the changing climate, the vegetation also changes and soon you can see cacti and the landscape looks more like a steppe.

On this part of the way, you have a fantastic view in good weather. You can see the bridge to be crossed early on.

Arriving at the bridge, I recommend a break for refreshments. Because depending on the level of the river, you can also take a short bath.

Now the ascent to Guane begins. The incline is not uncomfortable, but you will start to really feel the heat now. The temperature is well over 30 degrees Celsius (86° Fahrenheit) and you will probably reach this point of the trail around midday.

Personally, I had to stop a few times on this climb because my body was in danger of overheating. Especially the last kilometer to Guane is again very strenuous with a steep incline.

in Guane, you can either continue hiking on the Camino Real to Barichara or, like me, drive to Barichara in a vehicle.

3rd stage Barichara to Jordan

Total distance: 12 kilometers (7,45 miles)

Altitude Villanueva: 1,500 meters (4,900 feet) above sea level (starting point)

Highest point: 1,500 meters (4,900 feet) above sea level

Lowest point: 450 meters (1,500 feet) above sea level

Altitude difference uphill: 100 meters (330 feet)

Altitude difference downhill: 1,100 meters (3,600 feet)

In the 3rd stage, it is worth taking a Tuk Tuk to drive to Villanueva, to drive from there again a piece to the vicinity of the Chicamocha Gorge. When I visited, it rained every night and the road was completely muddy. You can also start from Villanueva, but I personally don’t find the hike by road that attractive. I found it more attractive to spend more time in the canyon.

With the Tuk Tuk gets you pretty close to the original trail and descent into the gorge. In good weather, the view is magnificent, as the gorge is about one kilometer deep. During my visit, however, it was cloudy at the beginning and only cleared up later.

The descent into the gorge then takes place again on the original stone path. The incline is never unpleasant and the quality of the path is very good.

Once at the bottom there is a choice between two hotels. For backpackers, there are hammocks at Hotel Shangrila. However, I recommend the Ecolodge for a little more comfort in El Tamarindo.

4th stage Jordan to Los Santos

Total distance: 6 kilometers (3,7 miles)

Altitude Jordan: 450 meters (1,500 feet) above sea level (starting point)

Highest point: 1,350 meters (4,400 feet) above sea level

Lowest point: 450 meters (1,500 feet) above sea level

Altitude difference uphill: 900 meters (3,000 feet)

Altitude difference downhill: –

After a night in the Chicamocha Gorge, the Lengerke trail leads from Jordan to Los Santos. However, you should definitely make a short stop in Jordan, because the historic bridge is an absolute eye-catcher.

From there it is only uphill. The trail has recently been restored and is in excellent condition, in addition, there are many lookout points with seating. Depending on the weather, however, you have to expect a lot of heat early on, which makes the ascent a lot more difficult. Once in Los Santos, you will find bus connections to Bucaramanga.

Preparations for the Lengerke hike

Of course, I recommend everyone who is interested to book this tour with me. This gives you the convenience of a fixed vehicle and guide, as well as reserved hotel rooms.

I did the hike alone and had all my luggage and video equipment with me. The total weight was certainly at the upper limit. The weight should be light, especially during the first stage, because you have to duck a lot due to the vegetation.

In addition, the shoes are probably soaked after the first stage, so a second pair of shoes is recommended.

Other recommendations are:

  • Take little weight with you
  • If without a guide, take a machete with you
  • Take at least 1 liter of water with you every day
  • Don’t forget your bathing suit
  • Take a rest day
  • Bring sunscreen and a hat
  • Wear long trousers and a long shirt

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On our Blog you will find information about our past experiences as well as useful tips for planning your trip to Colombia.