In the southern department of Nariño, tucked away in the Colombian Andes, rests a spectacular green lake, Laguna Verde, inside the crater of a semi-dormant volcano, known as Volcán Azufral.
During our visit to Pasto, we decided to visit this remote and difficult to reach site. After a two hour journey to the town of Túquerres, we still had another 30-minute taxi ride and a 1.5-hour trek ahead of us to reach the lake.
After reaching the entrance to the Natural Reserve of the volcano, the cold hit us. We were already wearing as much layers as we had taken with us to the Carnaval de Negros y Blancos in Pasto, but we were still shivering. We took the opportunity to use the bathroom and look around the ´shop´, which was but a few rickety wooden shelves holding a few sugary snacks and drinks, before we set off on our journey. Relief swept over us to find a few spare balaclava hats on the shelf (or as they call them in Colombia, ‘pasa-montañas’), so we quickly bought the last remaining few to protect our faces from the cold.
In true Colombian style, one of the park rangers offered Andrés the coat off his back, when he saw that he only had a thin jumper to keep warm. The old puffy jacket was full of rips and has badly weathered, but it was a lifesaver later on, when Andres gave it to me, after I could no longer feel my hands.
We walked for 1.5 hours in 4 degrees Celsius, through crazy, blustery crosswinds and rocky terrain to get to the 4000-meter summit of Volcán Azufral. We were at such a high altitude that when we looked down into the valley where the green lake was supposed to be, we couldn’t see anything, as huge billowing clouds of mist slipped along the surface below. In fact, during the majority of the walk, we were lucky if we could see more than 100 meters ahead.
Astonishingly, with a gentle gust of wind, the mist below slowly began to reveal the deep valley with two gorgeous aqua-green lakes below. The lake is so vividly green due to the sulfur and iron-based deposits in the crater of the nearby volcano.
A quick picnic on the shore of the larger lake warmed us up, and we were off again to explore the surrounds. At this stage, my hands had gone purple from the cold, so I dipped them into the delicious heat of a small pool of bubbling sulfur water. Not sure if that was a good idea or not, but it definitely did the trick!
On another side of the volcano, are lots of amazing fumaroles, which continually exhale steam and gases from their bright yellow sulfur-stained fissures.
Laguna Verde has an amazing, mysterious atmosphere, almost like you are stepping back in time, as it is so quiet, deserted and remote. As the clouds of mist silently slipped down the hills, and the green waters gently lapped the shore, I could easily imagine dinosaurs roaming around the area, or an ancient underwater creature causing quiet ripples in the lake, as it passed underneath the surface.
If natural beauty and outdoor adventures are your thing, then you will definitely think the trek to this majestic lake is worth the effort. Just make sure to wrap up adequately, as you could be caught on an extra cold day, like we were.
Do you like to do activities, such as trekking and hiking while traveling? Do you think places like this are worth the effort of getting there, or would you rather spend the time exploring a city?