Snow falls on Colombia’s high-altitude Sumapaz

Sumapaz gets first snow in more than sixty years/William Herrera/Alcaldía
Entrance to PNN Sumapaz/William Herrera/Alcaldía de Bogotá

The high-altitude wetland of Sumapaz received its first snowfall in over 60 years, and  rare meteorological event that captivated the attention of locals who live in this mountainous region south of Bogotá.

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

Two important rivers originate in the páramo of Sumapaz – Pilar and Sumapaz – which traverse the Eastern Cordillera emptying in the Magdalena river valley.

Declared a National Park in 1977, PNN Sumapaz is considered the largest wetland ecosystem in the world covering an area of 730 square km and that extends across the departments of Cundinamarca, Tolima, Meta and Huila.

For the pre-Columbian Muisca peoples, the Sumapaz was a sacred pilgrimage site given its lakes and lagoons. After a failed expedition by the German explorer Nikolaus Federmann to cross the craggy massif in search of El Dorado, in the 18th Century, the Royal Botanical Expedition led by José Celestino Mutis ventured into what the naturalist described as the “Land of Mist” to document the flora and fauna of the high Andes.

The Sumapaz is home to over 200 species of plants, including towering frailejón plants, deer and Spectacled Bears.

The region’s first snow covered local buses and cars, and transformed the landscape into a winter wonderland for youngsters. Local authorities, however, warned that the snow, combined with heavy rains, could swell the Sumapaz river, resulting in flood warnings along the Magdalena.

Municipal bus blanketed in fresh snow in the Sumapaz/William Herrera/Alcaldía