Ascenso Nevado Santa Isabel – Guía Completa 2021
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What is the Santa Isabel Snowy?

With the Santa Isabel Snowy Trekking you will be able to know the majestic Santa Isabel Snowy Volcano; It is an unconventional volcanic structure, as it is a group of domes or convex surfaces created by the lava effusion of the tertiary and quaternary geological era that has allowed the settlement of glaciers.

The Snowy Santa Isabel has had several names, in principle the Quimbayas Indians called it Kasue Poleka que traduce “Doncella de la Montaña” o “Princesa de las Nieves”  y durante el siglo XVI el Fray Pedro Simón la nombró Tataquí snowy Original name of the geographical territories of Colombia according to the Agustín Codazzi Geographic Institute.

The highest point of the Santa Isabel Snowy is located at its central summit at 4,968 meters above sea level; its water network is deployed in the west over the departments of Caldas and Risaralda; and is between the snow-capped volcanoes of Tolima and Ruíz and together with these it is part of the Los Nevados National Natural Park.

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How does the Santa Isabel Snowy Glacier disappear?

This natural spectacle is at risk of extinction for several reasons: one of them is its altitude, since it is one of the lowest snowfalls in Colombia, generating greater imbalance and the accelerated thaw of this glacier; Another reason is climate change which causes absence of cloudiness and increased solar radiation, seriously impacting glaciers; Finally, Ruíz's volcanic activity and its constant expulsion of ash and lapilli diminish the ability of the glacier to reflect energy, thereby accelerating melting.

For these reasons it is necessary to know this beautiful natural destination as soon as possible, there you can not only find snow but also flora and fauna difficult to find in other ecosystems, such as the frailejón and the Condor. And incredible water sources and landscapes that have a decade left.

Santa Isabel Snowy Trekking

Data on the evolution of the glacier area in the Santa Isabel Snowy Volcano. Source: IDEAM

So if you are a lover of Trekking, mountains and nature, your chance to ascend the Snowy Santa Isabel has the days numbered.

El Nevado de Santa Isabel tiene los días contados, conócelo ahora, reserva aquí tu plan. See Plan

The following images of ice blocks no longer exist, these have disappeared due to the melting of the glacier.

Importance of glaciers

First it is important to clarify that the glaciers are huge compressed masses of snow that formed in the high part of a mountain or in the polar hemispheres, in this case we will talk specifically about mountain glaciers, by natural processes slowly melt transforming into reserves of water, as is the case Otún Lagoon which was formed with the natural thaw of the Snowy of Santa Isabel; which gives a reason for its vital importance for both human life and the planet.

Here are a few more reasons about the great importance of glaciers:

  • The glaciers reflect the solar radiation, since its enormous white extension, avoids the climatic impact diminishing the temperatures of its area of influence; although the increase in radiation due to the deterioration of the atmospheric layer causes these glaciers to weaken more quickly and fail to achieve their natural objective.  
  • The world's glaciers accumulate more than 75% of the Earth's fresh water and are an important part of the hydrological cycle; allowing hundreds of communities and people to take advantage of their water sources.
  • Scientific studies around the world indicate that glaciers are vestiges of the last Ice Age; and they have an extensive line of information about the history of the earth within their dense ice.
  • Today glaciers can be found in mountain ranges on all continents, with the exception of Australia.

How to get to the snowy Santa Isabel?

How to get there Snowy Santa Isabel
How to get there Snowy Santa Isabel

The Nevado de Santa Isabel is located in the Coffee Axis between Manizales and Pereira; whereby the ideal would be to reach one of these two cities; preferably Pereira since its airport infrastructure is much better and has a greater chance of landing; In addition, the existing tours to ascend the Snowy Santa Isabel also leave from this city and its accommodation possibilities are more varied.

As for flights from Bogotá you can have tickets from $60,000 on airlines such as EasyFly and Vivair; You can also arrive from Cali by bus with Expreso Trejos with an average cost of $38,000 and from Medellín in Western Fleet for approximately $50,000.

As for the Snowy Tours of Santa Isabel you can do two types of expedition: Edge of Glacier and / or Summit; The first is the most common of the routes since it is a one-day activity with an approximate walk of 6 hours in total, 3 in ascent and 3 in descent, it should be clarified that everything depends on the physical state, some for example do not achieve Get to the edge of the glacier. On the other hand there is the ascent to the summit, which is a two-day activity, in which you have the possibility to also discover La Laguna del Otún.

Ascent to Snowy Glacier Edge 

The hike in high mountains is an experience worth living because it offers a unique environment that is difficult to find a few meters; and in this case the ascent to Santa Isabel Snowy provides an overview that you will surely never forget.

Performing this ascent may seem easy, but at 4,500 masl it is certainly not that simple; to meet your goal of reaching the edge of the glacier, you need to prepare physically and mentally; It is an activity that requires self-control since many fail to finish the tour.

Itinerary Snowy Santa Isabel & #8211; Glacier Edge


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Snowy Santa Isabel & #8211; Los Nevados National Natural Park & #8211; Colombia & #8211; Trekking & #8211; High mountain

The activity starts at 4 AM in Pereira or in Manizales at 5 AM; to get to the peasant inn where breakfast is taken; On this site and while doing a brief acclimatization activity, you can learn a little about the lifestyle and productive systems of the high mountain, just before entering the conservation area.


Nevado Santa Isabel - Los Nevados National Natural Park - Colombia - Trekking - Alta Montaña -  twitcher
Snowy Santa Isabel & #8211; Los Nevados National Natural Park & #8211; Colombia & #8211; Trekking & #8211; High mountain

At this point you will find officials from Natural National Parks, who provide information about the area and the behavior that we should have during our stay in it. Before starting the path along the path, we perform a stretch directed by the guide (s), who in turn provide information and recommendations for the route that is about to begin.

Ascent to Edge of Santa Isabel Snowy Glacier

Ascent Vehicle fleet seen Snowy Santa Isabel
Climb the snowy Santa Isabel a whole adventure

During the ascent you will travel 3.7 kilometers away, to reach approximately 4,750 meters above sea level. This tour usually takes between 2 and 3 hours. During the tour, several rest and acclimatization stops are made, in which the environmental guide-interpreter shares information about the area, fauna and flora, high mountains, etc.


Nevado Santa Isabel - Los Nevados National Natural Park - Colombia - Trekking - Alta Montaña -  twitcher
Snowy Santa Isabel & #8211; Los Nevados National Natural Park & #8211; Colombia & #8211;

In general, the descent is much faster (1.5 hours approx), reaching up again to huts to board the vehicles and move to the peasant inn where lunch is taken (3:00 pm approx). Subsequently, a brief feedback of the activity is made and the route is resumed in the vehicles to the city of Pereira and / or Manizales.

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Ascent to the Top of the Snowy Santa Isabel

If you want to start in the world of mountaineering, the Snowy Santa Isabel must be your first option, since this expedition is considered as the gateway to this adventure activity; you must bear in mind that to carry out this type of activities you must have a good physical condition and a previous acclimatization.

It should be clarified that these types of activities must be carried out in the company of a guide and specialized teams; For this, many companies in the region offer plans to make these types of expeditions; Some have scheduled dates on which you can do this activity at a lower rate, if they do not have scheduled dates you must make the tour in a personalized way and the rate depends on the number of person.

This experience lasts two days a night; and includes the necessary implements to make the expedition.

Santa Isabel Snowy Summit Itinerary

Start (Day 1)

Nevado Santa Isabel - Los Nevados National Natural Park - Colombia - Trekking - Alta Montaña -  twitcher
Snowy Santa Isabel & #8211; Los Nevados National Natural Park -Potosí Breakfast

The activity starts from Pereira/Manizales or Manizales; a las 5 AM. Este recorrido tiene una  distancia 55 km por carretera destapada con un tiempo aproximado de 3 horas. Llegando al sector Potosí (3850 msnm), donde tomarás el desayuno y recibirás la charla de inducción por parte de los funcionarios del Parque Nacional Natural de los Nevados.

Acclimatization (Day 1)

Nevado del Ruíz - Los Nevados National Natural Park - Colombia - High Mountain - Tourist Plans - Laguna Negra
Snowy Ruiz & #8211; Los Nevados National Natural Park & #8211; Colombia & #8211; High Mountain & #8211; Tourist plans

The acclimatization walk to La Laguna del Otún begins located over 4000 meters above sea level. With a duration of 4 to 5 hours. Later in the afternoon the preparation of the equipment is done and it is oriented to its proper use.

Around 6:00 pm you will have dinner and rest for the ascent, which starts at 2:30 am.

Ascent (Day 2)                                                                                     

Climate Snowy Santa Isabel
discover magical realism with magical landscapes

The day begins with a hot drink at 2:30 AM, then you will start a specialized vehicle route to the Conejeras sector (4100 masl) and then begin the tour of the path that leads to the Santa Isabel Snowy Glacier; when arriving at the edge of the glacier, the equipment is prepared and the ascent to the center top begins, once there, the possibility of going to the North top is evaluated and then we begin the descent at 9 am towards the vehicle to return to the Peasant inn, have lunch and return to the city of origin.

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Recommendations for Snowy Santa Isabel Climb

  • Sleep very well the night before, a good rest ensures a better experience.
  • Wear appropriate clothing and footwear to conserve heat and protect yourself from moisture.
  • Wear change clothes, if possible shoes; since the climatic conditions can be quite strong and cause future colds.
  • It is vital for routes of this type to have good hydration, before, during and after the ascent.
  • Wear dark glasses with a high UV factor, since the sun at this height has a strong and quite direct impact, which can cause headaches.
  • Use high-end sunscreen as in the previous point this is a factor to take care of.
  • Acclimatize; avoid going too warm from the beginning of the tour, try to go with light clothes as much as possible, at least until you reach a higher height.
  • If you don't feel well, go down immediately or ask the guide for help if you need it.
  • Maintain your own pace, take a deep breath and rest every time you need it.
  • Do not drink alcoholic beverages before and during your visit.
  • Do not climb the glaciers or enter the Protected Area without proper authorization, the necessary equipment and protective elements and the company of an authorized guide specialized in high mountains.
  • Carry your identity documents.
  • Do not carry much weight during the tour, it will be counterproductive by physical effort; You can leave part of your personal items in the transport vehicle.


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