Belmira and Santa Ines Paramo

Belmira is a small village overlooking Medellin, about 1h30 away from the city centre. The road going there is asphalt all the way. We can stop on the way up to do paragliding or just enjoy the height and views over Medellin and the Aburra valley. The village is cold, very cold…because of its high altitude but also its location, in a valley surrounded by mountains (the highest point being at 3350m of altitude). During sunny days, the temperature is nice; but it can go down to 6 degrees at night if the sky is clear. The church situated in the park has 2 bell towers. People living there work in the milk-industry or agriculture, and are very nice people. As we are up high, the local dish is trout. Some of Alejandra’s family live there: her aunty and uncle, as well as the brothers and sisters of the uncle. They all built their houses next to each other. On weekends, everybody gather around the outside kitchen to spend time together singing, dancing, eating… The main attraction in Belmira is its paramo, called paramo of Santa Ines. It is a unique ecosystem in the Andes from which start the water network, rivers, underground rivers…those are water factories without needing much rain. Vegetation is made to trap the water from the air and deliver it to the ground. The most typical plant in the paramos is the “frailejon”, sort of hairy cactus that grows only 1 or 2cm per year. The walk we take you on starts at the family home, takes us through the main park of the village (2550m), and then heads up to the “savana” area (tracks used by the donkeys) with its lagoon and numerous frailejones (3150m). From that point, you can see all the mountains tops in the 200kms around, including the glaciers from the national park Los Nevados, but only if the view is clear. We then go down through an oak and bromeliad forest, lined by numerous water streams, to end up in the fields with cows around, until we reach a waterfall, close by the house, where the bravest ones can have a dip (maximum water temperature being 12 degrees). The walk is 14kms and takes about 5/6hrs (not too fast or too slow rate). We can choose to have a picnic on the spot, or in the park, or at the house when we get back depending on the time we started.

From Belmira (2550m), we usually go back down to Santa Fe de Antioquia (500m) on a windy road through pines and oaks forests…and the next day get back on our way to the Caribbean Sea. For mountain bikes amateurs, it is possible to go down the 2000m height difference riding your bike downhill….

Altitude from 2550m to 3350m

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