Big Picture: Reaching the summit of El Cocuy


The barren rock canyons of El Cocuy National Park are fitting for an episode of Game of Thrones.

Fortunately for the many hikers, who tackle the Toti glacier to reach a natural landmark known as the Devil’s Pulpit, there are no dragons nor White Walkers. Instead, high-altitude vegetation and a natural habitat for deer, bears, Andean condors and mountain tigers. Spanning three departments – Boyacá, Santander and Cundinamarca – and covering 1,500 square kilometers of Eastern Colombia, PNN El Cocuy is grand and solitary. At its highest point of 4,600 meters above sea level, experienced climbers may require supplemental oxygen to traverse one of the country’s last remaining ice sheets, and one that according to scientists could disappear within the next decade, exposing even more daunting rock face as captured by the Brooklyn artist Nikolina Kovalenko.


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