Sumapaz: Land of mist and the ancient Muisca

The paramos of Sumapaz provide water for large portions of Colombia.

The high altitude wetland of Sumapaz is one of the most vital water sources for the Colombian capital, yet despite its proximity to a metropolis of 8 million, the land remains a remote and daunting place.

Two important rivers originate in the páramo of Sumapaz – the Pilar and the Sumapaz – which traverse the eastern cordillera emptying in the Magdalena valley. Declared a National Park in 1977, the Sumapaz is considered the largest wetland ecosystem in the world covering an area of 727 kms and bordering the departments of Meta and Huila in the south.

In the 16th century, German adventurer Nikolaus Federmann conducted an expedition to cross the wind swept massif searching for the mythical El Dorado and incurring heavy casualties.

For the pre-Columbian Muisca, the Sumpaz was a pilgrimage site and coveted for its sacred lakes. A century after Federmann’s ill-fated expedition, the Royal Botanical Expedition, under José Celestino Mutis, ventured into the “País de la Niebla” as the Spaniards had referred to it with the objective to study high Andes flora and fauna.

The Sumapaz is home to over 200 species of plants, many of which have important medicinal uses. As the security situation improves, visitors can enjoy walks in this glacial landscape where the rainy season is known to last all year.


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