In Iguaque Fauna and Flora Sanctuary, the visitor can find the Sacred Lagoon of Iguaque that, according to Muisca mythology, is the cradle of humanity
Visitors to Iguaque Fauna and flora sanctuary will see the sacred Iguaque lagoon, the birthplace of humanity out of which emerged the mother of all the Muisca people according to their mythology. Because of this, popular belief holds that a pilgrimage to the sacred lagoon cleans the soul and purifies the spirit.
And indeed, the air is fresh and clean, and in the distance, little by little, a mountain is revealed, not very high or steep but covered in dense vegetation in which multiple forms and colours can be made out.
The ecosystems identified at the Sanctuary comprise high Andean forest, Andean forest, paramos, oak forest, sub-paramos, rocky pasture and shrub land, as well as the presence of dry vegetation and numerous wetlands. Significant flora includes oak and laurel trees. There are also woods of ce-drillo (Phyllanthus salviifolius) and scattered examples of two species of Colombian pine.
The mammals found at Iguaque include the weasel, the night monkey, bats, the oncilla, upland deer, grey fox and wood fox. A number of interesting bird species are also found, such as nightjars, pigeons and doves, as well as three species of woodpecker.
Ideas of nature among the peasants of the altiplano express an integral understanding of the world and human interaction with it. The beneficiary population of the environmental assets and services provided by the Sanctuary are mainly peasant farmers and fisherman living in the municipalities of Arcabuco, ChÍquiza, Gachantiva, Sachica, Santa Sofia and Villa de Leyva.
- Established: 1977
- Area: 6,750 hectares
- Altitude: Between 2,400 and 3,800 metres above sea level
- Climate: Cold
- Average temperature: Between 4°C and 12°C
PLANNING YOUR VISIT
- LOCATION: The Iguaque Fauna and flora sanctuary is located in the Department of Boyaca, 201 kilometres from Bogota in the jurisdiction of the municipalities of Villa de Leyva, Arcabuco Chiquiza and Sachica.
- HOW TO GET THERE: There are three routes to reach the Sanctuary:/li>
- Route 1: From Tunja to Villa de Leyva (39 km) and from there to the Sanctuary (15 km).
- Route 2: From Chiquinquira to Villa de Leyva (38 km) and from there to the Sanctuary (15 km).
- Route 3: From Tunja to Arcabuco (34 km) and from there to the Sanctuary (12 km). The roads from Arcabuco and Villa de Leyva to the Sanctuary are not metalled the whole of the way. Access is relatively easy as far as Casa de Piedra, 3 km from the Administration Centre. From there the road becomes more difficult for small automobiles.
- WHERE TO STAY: The Sanctuary has a Visitor Centre with capacity to sleep 48 people and a camp site for 50. The Sanctuary also has a car park.
- WHERE TO SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION: The nearest clinic is in Arcabuco, and the hospital Villa de Leyva.
- WHERE TO EAT: The Visitor Centre has a restaurant where visitors can enjoy local food prepared using organic ingredients. The restaurant is managed by Asociacion Naturar Iguaque; an organization created by neighbouring communities of the Sanctuary. It is important to take energy-rich foods like sandwiches, chocolate and isotonic drinks on the trails. Those wishing to camp should bring their own provisions or eat at the Visitor Centre restaurant.
- HOW LONG TO STAY: Three days and two nights.
- WHEN TO GO: The months from January to March and from September to December are dry, while the months from April to May and from October to November are rainy.
WHAT TO VISIT IN THE PARK:
Other attractions besides the Sacred Lagoon include the San Pedro de Iguaque sector, The Robledales sector is also very attractive for its oak woods, as well as the eight lagoons of Monte, Empedrada, Canizal, Cazador, Ojo de Agua, La Negra, La Colorada and San Pedro de Iguaque.
WHAT TO DO IN THE PARK:
The Iguaque Fauna and flora sanctuary is a favourite place for eco-tourism thanks to the stunning upland scenery surrounding the lake, An internal circuit allows visitors to enjoy the main activities available in the park, including trekking, cultural heritage sightseeing, observation of the wild flora and fauna, photography and filming, and environmental research and education.
The inner circuit is of course an environmental interpretation trail leading to the Sacred Lagoon of Iguaque, The climb begins at the Administration Centre and leads past the Furachiogua Visitor Centre. The 4.7 kilometres of the trail take approximately 6 hours to walk.
The trail winds back and forth to reduce the steepness of the ascent, leading first through the woods and then across the upland moor surrounding the lagoon. Iguaque is one of the eight lagoons forming this misty, mysterious moor. The lagoon is of glacial origin and it is guarded by hundreds of frailejones, a kind of shrub (espeletia) whose Spanish name means ‘friars’ and indeed from a distance and through the mist they do look like groups of friars standing silently vigilant around the water. That is how the conquistadores saw them, anyway. The return trip follows the same path down to the Visitor Centre, a three-hour walk away.
Entry to the sacred lagoon of Iguaque is permitted from 8:00 to 11:00 am, Visitors should note that the terrain can become very slippery and walking difficult in winter time, and the path is very steep, making it unsuitable for some visitors.
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