When we boarded our plane to Colombia we were considerably more excited than usual (for obvious reasons) but despite it’s questionable reputation as a tourist destination, Colombia proved that it has a lot more to offer than cocain and gun-toting guerrillas…

After a few days of wandering around Bogotá, Colombias capital, enjoying the atmosphere, the museums, the food and the excellent beer brewed by Bogotá Brewing Company we departed on an eleven-hour bus ride to Parque Nacional Natural El Cocuy. As you can imagine this wasn’t the most pleasant of all our experiences, but there’s no other way to get to this jewel of a national park and I can assure you that we’d do it again at any time. Once arrived, there wasn’t much left to do apart from finding a place to rent a tent (we had had our permissions signed off in Bogotá already) and slowly getting our bodies used to higher altitudes. We did some last checks of equipment and maps and soon we would embark on a 5-day journey through a surreal alpine landscape set between 3.500 – 5.000m a.s.l.

Páramo vegetaion at sunrise in Parque Nacional El Cocuy

Rise Above

I was too tired to scout compositions when we arrived after another five-hour trek on day 4 in the park. I had planned to shoot the milky way in the early morning hours, when it would be positioned nicely above the towering mountains of El Cocuy. It’s reflection in Laguna Pintada, the little lake below our camp would add a slight glow around the distinct silhouette of Campanilla Negra (scroll down if your curious what it looked like).

After shooting until dawn it was already bright enough to finally scout a bit and so I followed a little path up the hill. Not far from the lake I found an area full of frailejones, a beautiful plant species, endemic to the páramo (a high altitude ecosystem found only in the andean mountains of a few south- and central american countries). Once settled on a comp I realized that I still had some time left before the sun would slowly climb above the horizon. I was freezing a bit – mind you, I was at around 4.000m a.s.l – so I went back to our camp to warm up a little, only to return in time to shoot the scene once bathed in sweet morning light.

near Laguna Pintada
Parque Nacional El Cocuy

Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Nikon 14-24mm AFS f/2.8 G ED @ 14mm
ISO 100, f/22, 1/15 seconds
Gitzo GT1541T

31. January 2014

Memorial María Luisa Edition 2014 XXV
Finalist in “Vegetal World”

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