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South America Natural Wonders
Sierra Nevada De Santa Marta
El Cocuy National Park
Choco Forest
Los Nevados National Park
Amacayacu National Park
Sierra Nevada De Mérida
Henri Pittier National Park
The Llanos, Venezuela
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El Cocuy National Park
Sierra Nevada del Cocuy
Arauca / Boyaca, Colombia
Earth's Natural Wonders in South America
Area of national park:
1,181 square miles (3,057 sq. km.)
Elevation: 1,968 to 17,482 feet
Rock type: Mostly granite
Pan de Azúcar (5120 m) in the Sierra Nevada del Cocuy[1]

The Park area contains several high peaks covered with snow: Pan de Azúcar (5120m), Diamante (4800 m), el Púlpito del Diablo (5100 m), Toti (4800 m), Portales (4800 m), Cóncavo (5200 m), Concavito (5100 m), San Pablines South (5180 m) and North (5200 m), Ritacuba Blanco (5330 m), Picacho (5030 m) , Puntiagudo (5200 m), Ritacuba Negro (5300 m), el Castillo (5100 m), peak without name (5000 m), Sirara (5200 m).

As you travel through the road that connect the town of Maracay with the Choroni’s poblation, we pass through the National Park Henri Pittier. In the rural zone known by the name of Uraca you will find the antique Hidraulic Plant named "Agua Fuerte", build in the General Gomez’s time (1910). As you walk for 15 minutes by a mountain path which starts from the hidraulic plant, you will arrive to the Mountain Refuge "El Cocuy", in the sector called Mocundo.

The Refuge "El Cocuy" offers the tourists the opportunity of enjoying the natural marvels of the principal National Park of Venezuela, National Park Henri Pittier, such as exotic exuberant flowers, tipical of a humid forest, an ample variety of animals specially birds (40% of birds which exist in Venezuela), fresh and cristal rivers with pools for swimming and a peaceful atmosphere between much virgin nature.

Aditionally, the visitor can get to know and appreciate the human activity and the folklore from Choroni and Puerto Colombia, coffee plantations and Venezuelan chocolaters very near to this Refuge.

You can see the fabrication of raw sugar from a sugar mill, agriculture from a maize field, artesanal fishing, also colonial architecture in the Choroni population dated since the past century (1740).

In Puerto Colombia, the sun lovers can have a good time in Playa Grande, a bay of 2 km of cristal water, surrounded by coconut palms. A few minutes from this part, by sea, the tourists can get to know Cepe and Chuao, the paradise beaches.

In the cool night, the activity is transformed by folklore dances, bases on the playing of drums, around the parties and traditional religions.[2]

More than 20 snow-capped peaks, including the spectacular granite needles of Negro Norte and Ritacuba Blanca; the largest glaciers in South America; and a stunning array of plants and animals, this is El Cocuy National park. The park was created in 1977 to protect its glorious 19 miles (30 km) of mountain range. With a range in altitude of over 14, 760 feet (4,500 m), the parks habitat types include lowland forest, motane forest, paramo grassland, permanent snowfields, glaciers and scree slopes. Animals include cock-of-the-rock, spectacled bear, torrent duck, condors, and a large variety of hummingbirds. Growing in the paramo are the strange looking Espeletias, a hunched rosette-forming plant of the daisy family, which produce long flowering spikes like gigantic bottlebrushes. interspersed with these are puyas, cold-resistant members of the pineapple family, and ground orchids, which tough it out in the lee of rocks. The park is 250 miles north of Bogota.[4]


By Lorraine Caputo

This national park is officially called Parque Nacional Natural de Sierra Nevada del Cocuy, Chita y Güicán, but most people just call it Parque Nacional Natural El Cocuy.

Its 306,000 hectares are located in Boyacá, Arauca and Casanare Departments. On this western side of the range, the park boundary is etched at the 4000-meter (13,120-foot) line. The Sierra Nevada has 21 peaks, several over 5,000 meters (16,400 feet). Ritacu'wa (Ritacuba) Blanco is the highest, at 5,330 meters (17,483 feet). This region is delicate páramo and has been heavily impacted by farming populations. The park service is working with these communities in restoration of the eco-system and in the development of sustainable alternatives, like eco-tourism. This area abounds with opportunities for trekking and climbing enthusiasts, and for those who just want a feel of the snow. The snowline is, at closest, only a three-hour hike away. This part of the park is divided into three general access points: Las Lagunillas or Alto de la Cueva; La Capilla or La Esperanza; and Rutaku'was (Ritacubas).

At the east side of Parque Nacional Natural (PNN) El Cocuy plunges to its lowest point, 600 meters (1,968 feet) in the Colombian llanos. Climbing the sheer rock here is only for experts. Because of the remoteness of the region and its dense vegetation it has been less impacted by the human hand. The northern sector of PNN El Cocuy is part of indigenous U'wa territory. This is the best preserved, in large part due to the U'wa's respect of Mother Earth. However, their culture and lands are endangered due to the presence of possible petroleum fields.

Fauna species found in PNN El Cocuy include the spectacled bear, puma, chinchilla rabbit, mountain tapir, white-tailed deer and dozens of bird species, amongst them the Andean condor and the águila real. Flora is equally diverse, owing to the many eco-systems embraced by the park: frailejón, cardoon cactus, the encillo and sietecueros trees, numerous varieties of mosses and lichens, and cojines (Plantago rigido).

The Park contains the largest expanse of glacier fields in northern South America but they are quickly receding due to global warming. Scientists estimate that at the present rate of melting, the snow pack will disappear in 15 to 20 years. The Sierra Nevada del Cocuy is the birthplace of rivers flowing both to the Río Magdalena and the Orinoco.[3]

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1.Wikimedia Commons-retrieved 6/21/2009
2. http://www.cocuy.org.ve-retrieved 6/21/2009
3.Viva Travel Guides-retrieved 6/21/2009
4.1,001 Natural Wonders You Must See Before You Die 2005-p. 193- Michael Bright-retrieved 6/2/2009

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