Hiking the Camino Real: Part 2

We woke in Villanueva with every intention of leaving very early to beat the heat on the way to the bottom of the Chicamocha Canyon, but our breakfast place that we had lined up the previous night didn’t open until 745, so that set us back–we didn’t get off until around 845 or so and it was already getting warm. We loaded up on water (Sean at Macondo Hostel had mentioned this section was very remote and hot) and followed the trail to where it descends into the canyon.

Near the top we found a small tienda that had drinks, but only the beer was cold, so we had warm pop. There was another place right at the top advertising drinks but we did not check it out. The trail down the canyon was easy to follow, as usually there was only one way to go. We descended from 1450 metres to about 400 metres, and it got progressively hotter as the day wore on.

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About an hour from the bottom of the canyon  we pretty much ran out of water, and I started to get a little nervous. We still had a ways to go!  As we got down, we came across a stream and then a small river we had to cross. Although we could not drink the water, at least we could cool down and get wet, which helped a lot. But still, we needed drinking water and it looked like we were at least an hour from the town where we were going to stay the night. And then we turned a corner and saw this, which translates to refuge for walkers.

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Was it a mirage? Too good to be true?  No!!  We followed the signs to a refuge where hikers can stay the night in hammocks and where there is a natural swimming pool near the river at the bottom of the canyon. The caretaker who was there (it was presently closed due to flooding that had knocked out their water supply) allowed us to rest on the hammocks, sold us drinking water, and called ahead to his sister in the town of Jordan to arrange food and lodging for us!  It really was Shangri La!!  Rested, watered, and content we headed on and ate lunch at his sister’s house and stayed in another house (we paid for accommodation but it was unclear to me whether they took in guests regularly ).  Some pictures of Jordan :

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The next day we headed up the canyon bright and early (we bought our own breakfast the night before this time!).  The walk was stunning and, in the relative cool of the morning, it seemed to go much faster than the previous day. After about 3 hours we reached d the town of Los Santos , located on a very large mesa (like a plateau), and took the bus to my favourite hostel ever, The Rock Shelter. We had the honeymoon suite, and our room was built right into the cliff. The bathroom was open to the cliff side, so we had the most incredible views– even better than the views from the thunder boxes in Algonquin Park!
Here’s our room:

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And the view:

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The next day we attempted a hike across the Cliffside to a waterfall. We couldn’t get to the waterfall but we had a great hike anyway. We were amazed at the lushness found near the streams in this arid environment.
This was a stream where we stopped to get wet and get away from the heat.

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Note the orange trees.

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And here’s our first look at coffee plants. More on that later!

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