Coconuco, Colombia – Stressed backsides in hot water

It seems to be harder to find overnight places in Colombia than a couple of years ago. All restaurants along the Pan Am asked for 50,000 Pesos (27.50 $) per night from us – regardless if we were willing to dinner there or not. I don’t hesitate calling this outrageous, but maybe they simply want to chase this kind of traveller away. Other places simply didn’t want us. Generally I would say Colombia already discovered that money can be earned with tourism without that they provide appropriate infrastructure or service. For example, there is nearly nobody in this country speaking English – neither in high-educated circles, nor in tourism (the young generation starts to change). I guess one can’t expect from every overseas tourist to visit a language course before? I also have the feeling that they are quite interested in other than South American travellers. And we have to always consider that Colombia is a developing country where average salary is around 200 $! On the other hand, people especially in the south are very friendly, extremely polite, and honest. Nowhere else except in Canada we received so many food presents than here.

In the hot springs of Aguatibia close to Coconuco we are asked for 8.000 Peso (4.50 $) entrance fee per person plus 15.000 Peso (8 $) per vehicle / tent for camping (no service except a very far bathroom up the hill and cold outside showers) – 17 $ together, close to the edge. We stay nevertheless to relax our muscles stressed from horse riding in the algae-green fizzing thermal tubs well at body temperature and in the little bit cooler, clear-blue mineral water pool stocked with tiny fishes. Besides, overnight places are rare in this area. Coconuco is located at the road # 20 from San Agustín to Popayán. For the good 100 km / 65 mi five hours have to be calculated: one hour pavement, three hours gravel with many working areas where there is only one-lane traffic. From here, where the hot springs are located, it’s another hour pavement to Popayán. On the plateau at 3,000 m / 10,000 ft elevation frailejonas resp. espeletia can be seen. These composites are so-called half-shrubs and typical for the tropical highlands, but grow only in northern South America. On a stem of dried leaves pineapple-like small tops grow that look a bit like a small agave with white fur. Termales Aguatibia, Coconuco, N 02°18’23.9’’ W 76°30’26.0’’

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