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Touring the Tablazo Reserve & Cloud Forest

As I’ve already written in the previous blog, I’m quite new here in Bogotá but I’ve fortunately started to travel to the magnificent countryside around the city. I’ve been in Choachí, a place that I really appreciated for its uncontaminated nature, and this week I’ll spend 4 days in the coffee community near Silvania. But here I’d like to tell you something about the tour I participated in last Sunday: the Tablazo Mountain Reserve and Cloud Forest.

When I woke up on Sunday I was excited because I knew I was finally going to visit the páramo ecosystem. During my office work I had heard many time this unique Andean ecosystem so I was very curious to see it in person.

We left La Canderia in the early morning. To get to the reserve, we’ had to cross through many areas of Bogotá and it was very interesting to see the differences among its neighbourhoods. For example, La Candelaria seemed like a small village with its colonial buildings, while Centro Internacional was more similar to a modern city with many skyscrapers.

An hour and a halft after departure, we stopped in Subachoque to buy some snacks. This small town is situated about 45 km from Bogotá and has an economy based on agriculture, ranching and mining. The church in front of the main plaza is probably one the most attractive sites to visit here. It’s called the San Miguel Arcángel Church and it dates back to the Baroque era, having been founded by Doctor Manuel Guirior in 1774.

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After having eaten our snacks, we headed towards the reserve. The unique páramo ecosystem was without a doubt the first thing I noticed: at first sight it seemed like a desert, but when I started to walk through it I realized it was an area full of water. For example, there were many streams and also plants that looked like cactus, with a spongy consistence and rich in water. Unfortunately, the páramo is also a very vulnerable place and in the last years it has lost many plants due to pollution. In the picture below you can see the typical páramo vegetation in the Tablazo (featuring a nice local resident ☺)

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Afterwards we hiked down through the sub-páramo and then into the cloud forest, where both the landscape and weather suddenly changed. As the name suggests, it’s a kind of forest characterized by a high presence of clouds. In fact, when tropical clouds cross the Andes, they get trapped due to the high altitude, and consequently, condensation and rain can occur. I believe I’ve been lucky because the day I went to the cloud forest I experienced such a majestic and poetic atmosphere. We walked through the clouds and also stopped a little bit due to heavy rain. Sure, hiking in the mud can be difficult (but I find it funny, you know, I’m a little bit childish), but listening to nature’s sounds during the rain and at an altitude of more than 3,000 meters, is something beyond words.

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Our tour soon came to an end and we were on our way back to Bogotá. I would really suggest that visitors to Colombia take the time to explore Bogotá’s surroundings - it’s impossible to get disappointed!

Silvia, Intern

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