Hiking around Merida
Replies: 1 - Last Post: Jun 2, 2013 1:17 AM Last Post By: goran71
Apr 4, 2013 4:19 AM
Hiking around MeridaIf you want hiking eqpt. there is a shop called 5007 (cinco mil siete) in central Merida, Avenida 5 entre 19 y 20. They only have the old fashioned camping gaz non resealable cartridges or the newer ones with a nozzle attachment. No screw in canisters available. There is also a shop called Merida Gas which has a similar stock of cartridges & stoves.
For acclimatisation it is a good idea to stay in Mucuchies (2980 M) & Apartaderos (3340M) They both have several Posadas where you can stay, they all seem to be the same price @ 200 BsF for a room with shower.
You can also stay right up by Laguna Mucubaji at 3600M, there is one Posada there called Sierra Nevada said to be the highest in Venezuela. Nice people there & they will do food or get it at the restaurant across the road.
Easiest way to get to Laguna Mucubaji is to get the Barinas bus from Merida. 50 BsF.
A little above Apartaderos the road divides. The left fork goes up to Pico del Aguila at 4120M with a cafe.
The right fork goes to Laguna Mucubaji & then drops down to Barinas.
Take the bus to Apartaderos. It goes a good bit above Apartaderos & stops about 7KM from Pico del Aguila. Hitch or get a taxi from there. You can also get the Merida -> Valera bus which goes over Pico del Aguila. Take a road going left immediately before the Pico del Aguila cafe & it will take you up to a higher pass at 4300M with some TV aerials, about 2KM from Pico del Aguila but enough to get your lungs working.
Take the Apartaderos bus to the last stop. It pulls up off the main road at a national park enterance. This is part of the Sierra de Culata. Walk up the road to a condor in a cage. There is a small cafe here & a parkie post. You can continue walking up the dirt road for about 3.5 hours. There is nothing particularly to see but the mountains & valleys are nice. It goes up to a pass at something around 4200M. A couple of small lakes by the pass. The road drops off the pass & continues into a remote valley: return the way you came.
There are some more lakes off the road but they are difficult to find.
From Laguna Mucubaji you can walk to Laguna Negra in about 45 mins. Go round the right side of Laguna Negra & you will see the outlet stream from Laguna de los Patos. Walk up on RHS of the stream, in a stony area you will see some small cairns & follow them up into the woods. A very poorly defined trail occasionally marked with torn bits of plastic bags leads up to Laguna de los Patos. Don't blame me if you can't find it.
There is also a trail directly to Laguna de los Patos from the park restaurant. There is a short loop trail here & at the top of the loop a smaller trail leads on to the laguna. It comes in above the laguna & drops down to it. A couple of short sections are steep & not advisable if its raining. Bear in mind that both trails come in at the top side of the laguna so don't spend 1.5 hours looking for a direct trail from Patos to Negra by the Patos outflow stream like I did. There is no direct route as it's sealed off by cliffs.
You can also walk from Laguna Mucubaji park restaurant to Laguna Victoria, all downhill & less than 2 hours.
Victoria is perhaps the nicest lake in the park. From there it's a short walk down to the Barinas road, then hitch left back up to Laguna Mucubaji.
Take the direct trail to Laguna de los Patos & where it goes left you will see a small trail marked with a cairn going right. Follow it past a dead horse & it leads into a rock ampitheatre, continue steeply up to Pico Mucunuque, 4672M. One long day return trip from park enterance. The peak is marked with a concrete pillar. It is not advisable to continue to the nearby peak which looks higher (very loose rock)
La Toma to La Culata:
Go to La Toma a little above Mucuchies on the main road. From here get a taxi to Alto la Toma & on up the road thru the valley as far as they will take you. They will drop you as soon as the road starts getting rough.
Continue walking up the road, it goes left & up to the last house in about 2.5 hours. 2 houses near each other here, they both have horses. This route is described in The Andes: a Trekking Guide by John Biggar. Normally a very good book but the route description for this hike is scetchy. I would strongly advise you to get one of the caballeros to take you from the last house to Laguna Barro Negro through the central section of the hike. There are many trails & it is very difficult to find the route on your own. Not expensive to get a horse. Just use the horse to carry your pack & walk the route to Barro Negro with the caballero, he will then ride home. Barro Negro is high, about 4300M, so ensure you are well acclimatised if camping here.
From Barro Negro it's an easy hike up to Pan de Azucar, 4620M. You can do it in an hour if well acclimatised. A very sandy hike. The descent took me 11 minutes (you can ski down the sand)
From Barro Negro you can walk out to La Culata & get a bus to Merida.
From the last house you can also climb Piedras Blancas (4712M) in one day. Go up the RHS valley to Alto Pideras Blancas & on left to the peak. There are several peaks here, I am not sure if I climbed the right one as I didn't have a map but they are all worthwhile. You could get the caballero to take you there also if you want.
At the park enterance in La Mucuy going to Laguna Coromoto the parkies won't let you into the park on your own. They are also unfriendly & unhelpful. A guy died up at Laguna Verde a couple of weeks ago from altitide sickness so unless you are two or more they won't let you thru. This is the only park enterance I know of which has this restriction, the rest are unmanned or they are not bothered.
The teleferico is still closed, they are saying it may open later this year...
May 31, 2013 2:06 PM
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