Hiking Volcán Azufral And The Spectacular Laguna Verde in Southern Colombia

by Stephanie Walsh · 7 comments

in Colombia, South America, Travels

Laguna Verde, Tuquerres, Colombia

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.

Laguna Verde, Colombia

The amazing colours of Laguna Verde (Green Lake) outside of Tuquerres, Colombia

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.

Laguna Verde, Colombia

The long and windy road to the Laguna Verde

Laguna Verde, outside Tuquerres, Colombia

Passed some random horses on the way

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.

Volcan Azufral, Colombia

Andres with his borrowed jacket, balaclava and carrying my bag...what a gent! 🙂

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.

Volcan Azufral, Colombia

Taking a break in the high altitude

Journey to Volcan Azufral, Colombia

The interesting shapes and forms on the journey

Sign at Laguna Verde and Volcan Azufral, Colombia

Altitude: 4000 meters

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.

Laguna Verde, Tuquerres, Colombia

The lake is finally revealed through the clouds!

Laguna Verde, Colombia

The steep walk downhill and the other lake in the distance

Laguna Verde, Colombia

The other beautiful Laguna Verde

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!

Laguna Verde, Colombia Laguna Verde, Colombia Laguna Verde, Colombia Blue skies, Laguna Verde, Colombia Laguna Verde, Colombia Laguna Verde, Colombia

On another side of the volcano, are lots of amazing fumaroles, which continually exhale steam and gases from their bright yellow sulfur-stained fissures.

Fumaroles at Volcan Azufral, Colombia

Fumaroles at Volcan Azufral, Colombia

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.

Laguna Verde, Colombia Laguna Verde, Colombia Yellow sulphur at Volcan Azufral, Colombia Laguna Verde, Colombia Mountains around Volcan Azufral, Colombia Laguna Verde, Colombia Laguna Verde, Colombia Mountains around Volcan Azufral, Colombia Laguna Verde, Colombia Laguna Verde, Colombia Flora around Volcan Azufral, Colombia Flora around Volcan Azufral, Colombia Flora around Volcan Azufral, Colombia

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?

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jemma June 29, 2013 at 10:41 pm

Volcanoes are really beautiful even if frightening. I also love the last two photos.

In the Philippines, we also have volcano where its crater is also filled with Lake. We call it the Taal volcano.
Jemma recently posted..Tourist Spots in Baguio City, PhilippinesMy Profile


2 Stephanie Walsh July 15, 2013 at 9:01 pm

Thanks Jemma! I just googled the Taal Volcano…it looks stunning! I want to go there now!:)


3 Franca July 10, 2013 at 5:00 am

I love exploring cities for sure, but every now and then a good hike is much appreciated and a change to the urban life.
Is this place real? Just kidding!
It’s simply stunning and if you ask me it’s definitely worth the effort of hiking it to see its beauty 🙂


4 Stephanie Walsh July 15, 2013 at 8:53 pm

Definitely, plus the smug feeling of getting to say you just hiked a volcano ain’t too bad either! 😛


5 TammyOnTheMove August 27, 2013 at 5:43 am

Looks really stunning despite the cold and the fog. Would love to do some hiking in Colombia. It seems to be one of those places where you can still do that without the crowds.


6 Marcela May 9, 2014 at 6:55 am

My father was born in a town 1 hour away from Volcan Azufral. After 30 years, my siblings and I will be returning to visit this ancestral land. We are planning to hike Volcan Azufral and visit the Laguna Verde. Your posting is inspiring and we will be sure to dress up warmly! 🙂


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