Jardín: Gallitos de Roca (Cock of the Rock)

Where are all my ladies?

This afternoon I am heading to the Parque Natural Jardín de Rocas where I can witness the Gallitos de Roca (rare and unique birds). They come to this reserve looking for female birds to mate with. The English translation is Cock of the Rock (I’ll just leave that there with no further comment).

The reserve is located not to far from the bridge I crossed previously for another hike .

The park doesn’t open until the late afternoon because you will only see the males performing in the early evenings.

The lady who runs the park is very nice. She tells me of all the great places to go for bird observation.

I don’t have to go far because there are already birds hanging out in the tree right next to me.

I find a place along the observation boardwalk and wait.

I am glad I brought my telephoto lens with me because while the birds are close by, they aren’t close enough to get decent photos with the diffused lighting.

We sit quietly and wait for the males to fly in and start singing for a lover. They are loud. I can’t see how the females would be attracted to that but what do I know.

Don’t you think I’m cute???

After viewing the birds I chat with some other travelers outside the preserve. They give me some helpful advice on my next town. The Colombia traveling community is small but very supportive.

I head back into town and have a nice dinner at Óleo Bistró Restaurante.

Tomorrow I head to Salento. I love my time in Jardin and would stay longer but for once I scheduled just the right amount of time in a city. I definitely would not mind returning some day.

Jardín: Hike to Christ

Another day in Jardín (Antioquia, Colombia) so I decide to take another short hike but this time to a Christ statue on a hill.

The town looks beautiful this morning as I head out for my hike.

Where I am going today is up the hill to see the large statue of Jesus (Seen as the little white thing in the photo below).

See the Jesus on the middle left.

The path is straight ahead and not clearly marked. I only know it is the correct path because of website that created a great guide to the area (fortunately I found the link to their website intentional travelers – they are so helpful).

The trail begins as a steep decline downhill on a rock trail. I am glad I am wearing my hiking boots again.

A kitten comes by to greet me before I start my hike.

I don’t really see many others around once again today. Traveling in Colombia is quiet compared to visiting other countries. Normally the isolation would have me worried about my safety but for some reason I feel safe here.

I come to a large moss covered tree. The tree is beautiful and reminds me of home.

I come to a little wooden bridge and cross a stream.

The area around the stream looks like a nice place to picnic during the day.

It is not clearly marked but I notice a rough path going uphill. I am thankful that it is both dry and that I am wearing my hiking boots. The steps are challenging for my shorter legs.

Looking down below. I see other hikers!
Town off in the distance

I arrive to a gate. There is no sign but it is not locked. I open the gate and walk through, hoping I am not tresspassing.

I am at some sort of summit. I stop and take in the views. There are large beautiful black birds flying to and fro.

I walk past banana trees. The path I am on is clearly used but very rough. I see another couple hiking around so I know I am in the right place.

Eventually I arrive to the area that contains the statue. There is a restaurant or café that appears to closed but a gate is ajar. A tour guide has entered into the viewing area with some tourists; I assume since he is there then it is ok to enter. I grab a seat and enjoy the view for a while.

At some point it looks like the owner shows up. I pack up my things in anticipation of getting asked to leave but he doesn’t seem angry we are there. I don’t stay long anyway.

restaurant up top
seating with view of town below
Finally the view, from below it looks like there used to be gondola system. It doesn’t seem to be operational.
A directional sign! Don’t see many of these.

I think there are other trails up here somewhere but I end up just heading back the way I arrived.

Trail goes on? Who knows?
The Moss tree again

It doesn’t take me long to arrive back in town. It is still early so I take the time to visit the inside of the beautiful town church.

I love the tiles and the ceiling colors.

I head back to my hotel to freshen up and rest. I’ll head out later to see some birds at dusk. More on that later.

Jardín: La Garrucha Overlook

Town of Jardín, Antioquia, Colombia

Feb 12, 2020

Photos of wandering around town this morning…

Today I start out late as usual. I have good intentions to leave early and take pictures around town but it doesn’t really happen. I do wake up early but actually leaving the hotel at an early hour seems impossible. I order the fresh breakfast at the hotel – it is quite filling. I gather up my laundry and find local laundromat since my dirty things have been piling up. After dropping off my laundry I start heading towards the trail that I plan to hike today.

For today’s walk I have maps.me and a PDF file on my phone from a blogger who is done a similar hike (there is no good “tourist guide”).

I head to a restaurant to order a sandwich to take on the way. I like to carry a sandwich to be able to stop and eat when I get tired of walking. I find this town has a way of humbling me when it comes to my knowledge of Spanish. Ordering the sandwich is awkward but I eventually put in the order in for a ham and cheese sandwich. Once my sandwich is ready I grab a soda and I’m ready to go.

The hike today is up to La Garrucha where there is a cable car station (I can take the cable car from town and forgo the hike if I want to). The cable car looks suspect (pictures later) so I hike to the lookout by taking the path starting at the yellow bridge at the edge of town.

Once I cross the bridge the beautiful views are non-stop at this point.

The road turns to the right and I start walking uphill. It is pretty warm in the sun so I start my sweating as usual. There are also not any directional signs so I follow maps.me and the advice from the blog.

Mini-yellow bridge with statue
Looks like a covered area for banana harvesters

After a while I catch my first sight of coffee plants. There is a good amount of coffee grown here but the next town I visit is when I will visit a finca (coffee plantation).

Soon I notice that coffee and bananas are companion plants.

These signs were no help at all.

Finally I make it to the overlook where I order a coffee at the café and take in the view.

I watch as others take the trip on the cablecar.

I debate taking the cable back down because I am tired from the uphill trip. I chat with some tourists who walked up in the other direction and they tell me the way back is all downhill since we are at the top. The return trip isn’t entirely downhill but yes it is mostly downhill.

The road back contains farms and residences.

I pass by a charming homestay where musicians are playing music outside.

I pass farms and smell the distinct smell of marijuana. I don’t see anyone around so perhaps it is far away.

I come across a field of wooden crosses. Not sure their purpose.

Some switch backs on the road going down hill

I end up passing by a ecological park or homestay (Eco Parque Camino De Piedra).

I come across this beautiful door which I later learn leads to a tunnel that offers private tours.

I cross a bridge and soon after is a stream. People who have taken a horseback tour of the area tie their horses outside a restaurant and take a dip in the water. I sit here and finally eat the sandwich I have brought with me on today’s journey.

After my rest I continue on to where I find a mini-waterfall.

It doesn’t take me long until I reach the short trail that leads me back to town, passing colorful places on the way.

I head back into town and treat myself to a beer and a large dinner.

I seriously love this town.

Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland

People visit Rotorua New Zealand for a couple reasons but one of the big ones is to witness the geothermal activity. Driving into the area you will notice small clouds of smoke coming from the ground and the distinct smell of sulfur. The smell is almost everywhere but I get lucky when my chosen campsite doesn’t seem to have the strong scent. There are other disadvantages to camping there, which I will talk about later, but the smell is not one of them.

First on the agenda in town is to visit the Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland which at the time of this post is currently closed for renovations. Luckily it is open while I am in town.

I arrive in time to see the geyser, Lady Knox Geyser, which is made to erupt daily at 10.15am.

A ranger puts a concoction in to stimulate an eruption. It can erupt on its own but to get a determined showtime they force it along. The size of the eruption can vary due to different weather conditions. Luckily today it put on a good show for us.

After the show it takes a while to get out of the parking lot since everyone is leaving at once.

Once inside the geothermal park I walk along a path and witnesses little areas of smoke and colored rocks due to all the different minerals.

I walk by some mud pools. Too hot to swim in but I bet that mud will make me look beautiful.

Finally I start reaching the pools with all the different colors such as this large Champagne pool.

I wander further and see some art along the trail.

While walking around I notice little bubbling pools of mud. They gurgle and I am sure they will burn to touch.

I come across a lake. It is nice and peaceful to rest there for a little while.

The yellow sign is not scary at all <sarcasm>.

I love the patterns on the ground.

More pools

There is a bright green pool … almost looks toxic.

At the end I end up a shopping fool at the gift shop. I buy everything mud and stock up on the moisturizing sunscreen that I love.

The visit is nice but it is time to head over to Whakarewarewa to learn about Maori culture. More on that later….

Punakaiki

Today I am heading further north. I am getting closer to ending my time on the south island of New Zealand. As I reach closer to the end I realize, as I have read in my planning, that I could have spent a month or more on just the south island alone. If I ever get a chance to return to this beautiful country then I still have so much more to see on my list.

But today I am spending the night in Punakaiki, famous for its blow holes and pancake rocks.

It was nice to sleep in a regular bed last night but tonight I am back at a campsite.

The campsite I am staying at, Punakaiki Beach Camp, is right off the beach. I don’t have a view of the beach but it is a short walk to the water. There are also great views of an interesting rock formation above.

View of campsite from the beach
Beach outside campsite

After I arrive I am hungry so I walk a couple blocks away and treat myself to a nice steak at Punakaiki Tavern outside at a cute patio.

After lunch I head up the road to see the famous rocks.

On my way I come across a cavern. I come to a crevice that seems like I would need to do some crawling to get access to the cave. Being by myself and no one else seemingly around I am too scared to explore further. Instead I just view the cave from the entrance. I wish I would have done research ahead of time because it looks pretty safe from the pictures online.

I continue up the hill toward the pancake rocks.

I have arrived at the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes Track, a 1 km loop that lets you view some interesting vegetation, flat stacked limestone rocks and water blowholes. The blowholes occur at high tide when the water enters caverns and the compressed air causes a pop when the waves come in. I have arrived just in time for some of the blowing to occur.

Origins of the pancake rocks are uncertain but they are seemed to be formed by organizisms many millions of years ago.

One area to observe blowholes
Another blow hole
Another blowhole area
walking path
view in the distance
view of the park

Walk back down to camp.

As I walk back to camp I watch the sun start setting.

I climb over some rocks and watch the waves crash up against them for a while before I walk along the beach back to the campsite.

I am back at the campsite and go to the very busy camp kitchen to prepare my dinner. Most of the tables near the kitchen are occupied by families so I find an empty spot on the nearby lawn. It isn’t long before the blackflies start ruthlessly attacking me. It is a beautiful evening and I would love to sit outside with a glass of wine but the bites are too much. I try a little bug spray but it doesn’t do much to help. I head back to my van to hang out “indoors”. There are flies that have made their way in the van and they buzz around me, threatening to bite me throughout the night. I am hoping I can hide under a blanket and they die of starvation.

Before I head to sleep it does get pitch dark. Without the light pollution I can actually see many stars outside. It is almost as good as my time in Wadi Rum when I got to lay on my back and admire the skies. I would spend more time outside except I want a piece of my body left that hasn’t been attacked by bugs.

Good night.