It took more than 2 hours to reach San Vincente by car from Bucaramanga. Once off the main road, there is 48km of narrow and twisty gravel roads. Some of this route will be diverted once the nearby large dam "HidroSogamoso" floods the valley in the next year or two. There are lots of construction works going on at the moment. The countryside along the road looks rich and very green, and it will be a big shame to lose that land to a large lake.
San Vincente de Chucuri
San Vincente is a fairly large town and quite hot as it is only around 600m ASL. It is the cocoa capital of Colombia, an accolade which once meant it was wealthy, but in recent years cocoa prices have dropped dramatically.
Petroglyph in San Vincente
There are a number of petroglyphs and other archaeological remains around the town. These were left by the Yariguí people who were slowly exterminated after European colonization.
The Lenguerke trail between Zapatoca and SanVincente has recently been restored as part of Proyecto YARÉ which is run through the Conservation Leadership Programme. The project is aimed at conservation of the Serranía de los Yariguíes.
Lenguerke Trail Sign in San Vincente
The old trail starts at the "top" of San Vincente and climbs steeply. For the first few km it is drivable by 4wd and motorbikes as far as the school at La Germania. Then the trail leaves the road and becomes very narrow but the rocks used to construct it mean it is not slippery.
Lenguerke trail at La Germania
The trail passes through many shade Cocoa plantations
Further up the trail passes the ProAves reserve and continues up over the ridge of the Yariguíes. In total is supposed to take 2 days. We thought (incorrectly as it turned out) we could get from San Vincente to the ProAves reserve in an hour or two, but after only a short distance but climbing 600m in hot conditions we called it a day. Getting down was much easier! No doubt it is best to set out early when it's cooler. We'll try driving up to the reserve next time as it is an arduous walk to get there via the trail.
I didn't see that many birds on the way up in the cocoa plantations, though Blue-necked and Bay-headed Tanagers were plentiful. Near to Finca Oré was a georgeous Yellow-tufted Dacnis (Dacnis egregia). I love colourful birds like these as they are a very easy to identify when you first see them. Google this bird and you'll see what I mean! Again I was too slow with the camera, but will get a photo next time. I also picked up Black-winged Saltator (Saltator atripennis) and Band-backed Wren (Campylorhynchus zonatus) and there were several species of hummer and flycatcher that I didn't identify. No doubt there are lots of other gems waiting further up the trail.