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After a comfortable tour, I was looking forward to something more demanding.  I bought food for 10 days and set off for the mountains surrounding Merida.  The first day it was a long, tiring walk uphill through a dense, green cloud forest.  I camped in a bamboo forest and the next day arrived at Laguna Coromoto.  It was so beautiful, I decided to spend a whole day, just walking around it and enjoying the views.  Day 3 took me to the next lake, called Laguna Verde.  It was not as green as the name would suggest, but beautifully set amongst rocky mountains.  I camped on the shores of Laguna El Suero with a group of 4 people, including 2 guides.  After the sunset it got very cold and windy.  The next day I set off early, climbed a steep gully and traversed some rocks.  After that, it was easy walking towards the highest mountain in Venezuela, Pico Bolivar.

The Paramo was stunning all the way to the campsite, where I again camped next to the group.  Early on day 5 they set off to climb Pico Bolivar, and I followed soon.  Their presence helped me with route finding, which is steep rocks and some climbing.  We arrived at the top around 8am, 4985m!  On top there is a Bolivar´s monument and amazing views all around.  The weather was great, lots of sun and no wind, so we could stay and enjoy.  Coming down was challenging as I had to climb the rocks, while most people bring ropes and abseil.  The others went to the top station of the longest and the highest cable car system in the World which whisked them back to Merida in no time, and I went to my next campsite.

The next day I climbed another mountain called La Concha, 4850m.  The clouds were filling the valley below, changing constantly.  I had a hard time finding the route to the top as this mountain is rarely climbed and there is no path.  It was a good scramble up and down, and after getting back to my tent I packed and walked back to Laguna El Suero.  Early on day 7 I packed again and climbed the second highest mountain in the country, Pico Humboltd.  It involved ascending steep rocks and crossing a small but crevassed glacier.  At one point my leg fell in but the crevasse was not big.  After the final 100m of rocks I arrived at the top and then decided to climb a nearby Pico Bonpland, 4850m.  I followed the ridge and scrambled to the top of this difficult-looking mountain.  I came back around the other side, hopping between rocks, boulders and stones.

The following  day I walked down to the Park entrance, and on day 9 finally I was back in Merida.  Luxuries awaited, like comfortable bed, hot shower and good food. After a few day´s rest in Merida I went back to Colombia.  I didn´t see much of Venezuela but liked it a lot and I will have to come back one day...   photos