National parks are near and dear to our hearts since in the US they provide half price camping to “Golden Agers” and we have availed ourselves of these campsites on many, many occasions. ($4/night on the Gulf of Mexico in Texas was our best deal yet) National parks in Colombia are a whole different matter. They combine nature, history, civil pride and amusement attractions. I can’t imagine this in the US where our rides and their lines would trample the surrounding beauty. Here they exist side by side. I think the amusements help fund the park and they work pretty well in these venues.
This day we went to the Parque National Chicamocha. We took a bus from San Gil on a windy road up through the Andes. The bus was headed to the next town and just dropped us off across the highway from the park entrance. Our first adventure of the day was taking the bus trip careening along the sheer drop offs of the Andes, the second adventure was crossing the highway to get to the park entrance. Boy, you really get your money’s worth when traveling adventurously in Colombia!
Entrance to the Park. It gets more crowded, just wait.
First stop: Giant Slide. Safety precaution: sitting in a denim pillow case and wearing shoulder length mittens to avoid slide burns. Two rides: $3.00
Bungee trampoline jumping. (or “yoomping” in Espanol) at a very US cost of $10. But wait, I think he can see our hotel from here. Do I need to mention that Keegan and Michael spent the next hour or so determining how they could create these for our trampoline at home? Or that Keegan was trying to work out a fair rate to charge his friends for the privilege of jumping on it? Or that I was thinking of what this would do to our insurance premiums?
Our big ride in a tram down into a canyon and back up the other side. This is a HUGE, maybe 30 minute, ride with great views of the canyon walls. Imagine them doing this in the Grand Canyon. A spectacular ride and minimal damage to the surrounding terrain.
I promised you a crowd earlier and here it is. Minimal wait for the tram from the entrance of the park, but a long wait from the Bucaramanga side~ this is the side with the good restaurants.
I love this picture. There are farms along the canyon walls and the residents trek up with their donkeys to get supplies and trek back down. This is not a tourist donkey, this is a working donkey that is parked here waiting to be loaded up to trek back down into the canyon. The windy path on the other side is the donkey trail for that side of the canyon. Tourists can walk it, but we didn’t see anyone doing that? We got a chance to see what “dirt poor” means as the people who live in this part of the world literally have little more than the dirt they live on and they carve out a niche for themselves where they can. It is a strange juxtaposition with the Parque National all around them.
This is part of the national monument at the parquet. It is a tribute to the men and women who demanded freedom from Spanish tyranny and won. It was a battle fought by the simple people of the town, led by the cry of a woman. Here is here picture from the monument…
She is calling out through her window that she is tired of being overtaxed. I know just how she feels. The man in front is angry both at the Spanish and at the pigeons.
Community zip lines dot the park. They haul up the groups of four and then let them fly over the canyon, over the trees, over the tourists…really, take your pick. We didn’t do a zip line. It is really high up and very fast; fun to watch, though.
This is a structure for the newest zip line that will literally carry people across the canyon! Wow, What a RIDE!
This is a final look at the parque national. You can see the monument in the background, the shops and tram entrance and some lovely landscaping. A good time was had by all.
Life lesson: It is possible for adventure and nature to exist side by side as long as adventure minds its manners.