“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine into trees.”

– John Muir

Jungle vegetation on a day hike near Medellín
Jungle splendor

With the confinement of COVID and the stress of a brutal U.S. election season (which we were far too plugged into, even from here in Colombia), we didn’t realize how much we had been missing nature. At least until a couple of weeks ago, when we took our first hike in many months. We headed up into the hills high above Envigado, the municipality just south of Medellín, and got a much-needed nature fix on one of the Senderos Ancestrales (ancestral trails). It wasn’t long or especially challenging, but this day hike near Medellín was just what the doctor ordered.

The Trail

The Camino La Ayurá is one of many Senderos Ancestrales that trace the hills overlooking Envigado and Medellín. Many of these trails were important routes for indigenous populations in pre-Hispanic times and were later used by settlers and muleteers during the Spanish colonial and republic days. Right up until the 1970s, the Camino La Ayurá was used by farmers and campesinos to transport agricultural goods down into the city markets in the valley.

A year ago, we joined an organized hiking group to reach the Cuevas (caves) de Higuerón, the branch to the right on this map. (We wrote a bit more about that hike here.) Since that part of the trail goes through private property, we stuck to the left branch this time.

This Sendero is especially pretty.

The trail follows several streams with numerous hidden waterfalls, and climbs high into the foothills to offer panoramic views of the Aburra Valley and the city skyline.

Footbridge at the beginning of a day hike near Medellín
At the beginning of the trail, a footbridge crosses a lovely stream.
River crossing on a a day hike near Medellín
View of the stream from the footbridge.
Camino Ayura trailhead of a day hike near Medellín
The trailhead
Rugged trail on a a day hike near Medellín
The landscape gets a bit more rugged . . .
And steeper and rockier
Panoramic view during a day hike near Medellín
Opening out onto one panoramic vista after another. The Envigado and Medellin skylines are in the distance.
Climbing over a fence on a a day hike near Medellín
At one point we encountered some people coming back over this fence, and heard voices down below. So of course we had to explore . . .
A beautiful waterfall on a day hike near Medellín
And came upon this unexpected waterfall! A beauty.

Here’s a quick little video of the trek down to the waterfall. Our Indiana Jones moment of the day!

Cobblestone path near a house on a a day hike near Medellín
Headed back down

Our Tips

  • If you don’t have access to a car, it’s still easy to get to the Camino La Ayurá trail. Ask a taxi in Envigado to take you to the El Salado Parque Ecotouristica. If you’re using public transportation, take Metro to the Envigado station. From there, take one of the white buses marked Parque Ecologio or El Salado. When you get off the bus, just keep walking up the road past the Trucheria Arco Iris on your right, to the trailhead.
  • Speaking of Trucheria Arco Iris – it’s the perfect lunch stop if you’ve worked up a serious hunger after your hike. The restaurant’s specialty is rainbow trout raised right in their on-site trout pond. If you feel so inclined, you can even catch your own and they’ll cook it up for you (or you can be lazy, like we were). A yummy lunch for two of fresh trout, rice, salad, and a couple of cervezas each set us back about $15!
How are you getting out in nature to make the restrictions of the pandemic a little more bearable?

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  1. Your photos look so refreshing with all those trees, beautiful flowers and butterflies, and a waterfall! I don’t know why I haven’t gone to some of the hiking trails to the south of Jakarta myself, but like you, I’ve been so engrossed with the US elections since early November.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Crazy how much that election has engrossed people all over the world, not just US citizens! And Trump is STILL in denial . . . All we can do is hope there’s resolution soon and Biden/Harris can officially begin the transition. I think a lot of lives might depend on it, since COVID continues to be completely out of control in the states. Ugh. Sounds like I need to get back out on a hiking trail – ha!

      Hope you get to visit some of those trails near your home soon. I’ll bet they’re beautiful. Cheers to you, Bama!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you, Nancy! Those mariposas were so interesting – I think they were thirsty, since they were just hanging out on the ground near rain puddles.

  2. It wasn’t my imagination; Colombia really is a beautiful, almost Edenic place. Great pix, and narrative, as usual. I miss it. Thanks!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      It’s not going anywhere, amigo! You and M always have a place to stay, if you ever find yourselves longing for a visit.

  3. Sharon Brooks Reply

    Thanks so much. I have been wondering where some good safe hiking spots might be near here. Colombian friends have suggested to us that hiking some trails might not be that safe right now between the rains and those less fortunate looking for an easy pocket to pick. I would be interested to know what level of a hike you think this might be on a scale of 1 – 5 with 5 being more for rugged practiced hikers. We appreciate your blog and have passed this on to others.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hi Sharon – I would say this hike was about a 3.5 for us. The further up you go, the worse the trail becomes – clearly, it had had a lot of damage from the recent storms. We turned around at about the 2 mile mark. This was about a month ago, so the trail is probably in worse shape now. As far as personal safety, I would not worry at all about maleantes on this trail. The only folks we saw were other hikers and locals that live on the surrounding fincas.

      Even if you don’t hike very far up this trail, it’s still worth a trip up there to see the views and maybe have lunch at the trucheria! You could also check out the El Salado Parque, which looks really nice (although we haven’t visited it yet).

      If you’re looking for a nice place in the city to hike and soak up some nature, try Cerro Volador – just north of Laureles. We wrote about it in this post:


  4. These photos are like a breath of fresh air. They bring to mind childhood memories of parts of Panama where I was born and lived until my family moved to the states. Thank you for sharing these inspirational pictures.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      So glad you enjoyed the post! We also lived in Panama before moving to Colombia. The hiking we did there in the cloud forests of Chiriqui is one of the things we miss the most about Panama. So much pristine beauty there!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      So glad you enjoyed it, Steve! Thanks for visiting.

  5. What a beautiful post! Since I live right in a city and we are fighting the pandemic and I’m older than anyone and I’m being careful, I just did some exercises in my living room. (Our classes were cancelled — again.) This was the best I could do. Oh, well. I admit I pretended I was on the outing with you. (Chuckle.)

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you, Muriel! We also have been doing exercises in our living room 🙂 Good for you for staying active – it’s the best thing we can do right now until it’s safer to be out among people. We were hoping to be with my mom this Sunday for her birthday (she’s turning 86). But that’s the 6th trip we’ve had to cancel due to COVID. It’s just too risky, especially for her. But hopefully with all the good vaccine news lately, we’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

      Glad you enjoyed the post! Stay safe and take care.

      – Susan

  6. Hi, John and Susan – I agree that hiking is a great antidote to the craziness of much of the current news. Thank you for taking us along with you. Beautiful photos!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks, Donna! Nature is the best-possible distraction from the craziness of the world (especially now). Time to get some more of it! Hope you have a lovely day.
      – Susan

  7. What a gorgeous waterfall! Nature has been so needed and rejuvenating during the past few months. Thanks for sharing this local escape!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you, Kelly! That waterfall was completely unexpected, although it seems to be pretty well known to hikers. Still trying to find out its name! Glad you enjoyed the post.

  8. I’m so glad you finally managed to catch a healthy dose of nature! And, you captured more than that! Such a beautiful waterfall and scrumptious meal; some exercise and enjoyment for the body and the soul.

    While your hiking experience was more adventurous, diverse, and naturally satisfying, it did remind me of that day back in Massachusetts, when I joined my husband and dog to a forest park for a hike after being indoors, working for many weeks straight. And, how delighted I was to be in nature again, restricted and uninspiring as it might have been compared to other places in the world where we hiked. Like you said, it was the perfect medicine the doctor ordered.

    Let’s hope this madness in the US can be put behind us next year! Without too much extra trouble and casualties!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks so much, Liesbet! Isn’t getting out in nature the best, especially after you’ve been working hard? Even just a little dose is great. This hike was only about four miles, so not very intense, but it did wonders for us. Let’s keep hoping that the world will be a much brighter place in a few months. All of the vaccine news lately is really lifting our spirits, and also the promise of a Biden presidency.

      On a separate note, I’m really looking forward to reading your book! It’s amazing how many shared experiences we have from our cruising days.

      Have a lovely day!
      – Susan

      • Thank you, Susan! I’m curious to find out what you think of the book after you read it. About similar experiences as well as similar feelings. By the way, we really hope to visit South America next year… It would be awesome to meet and chat in person! Have a great day as well.

        • John and Susan Pazera Reply

          That would be fantastic! Our guest room is open if you find yourselves in Medellin 🙂

  9. This sounds utterly delightful – just enough exercise and nature to be refreshing. And the waterfall is a beauty.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you, Alison! Hope you and Don are having a lovely day 🙂
      – Susan

  10. Sunny Branson Reply

    Your dose of nature is just what I needed! What a breathtaking place! The exploding bananas are fascinating and the mariposas, beautiful!! Thanks for sharing.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Aw, thanks, Sunny! Sorry I haven’t answered sooner – still catching up after Cartagena 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the post.

  11. Your lovely photos sure make this local escape look special. We are blessed to be living in such a beautiful place. Thanks for sharing.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you, Henry! Playing a little catch-up after Cartagena 🙂 You are right, we are so blessed to live in this wonderful country. Lots to be thankful for.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      So true, there’s no better remedy than nature for the cares of the world. Hope all is well with you Down Under!

  12. Nature has been a tonic for the soul during these challenging times. Loved that little video of you heading down to the waterfall. I would have done the same! We did a lot of cycling and walking/hiking this summer. Now in winter we will still be walking but more skiing and snowshoeing.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hi Sue – sorry I’m just now replying. Playing a bit of catch-up after spending the week in Cartagena. Ha, I’m always the one that’s crashing down into the ravine, looking for the way down to the waterfall 🙂 Sounds like we are kindred spirits. Hope you’re staying warm and safe, enjoying all those winter sports!

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