Traversing the South American Mountains with the LUNA
Traveling with the LUNA Ground Tent
From the Colombian Paramos to three active Volcanos in Guatemala
When Tentsile first asked me if I wanted to try out their new LUNA Ground Tent on my upcoming trip through South and Central America, I saw it as the ideal opportunity to give this new tent a shot. Given the great experience I made with the Tentsile tree I was ready to try this tent and stay on the ground for some nights.
Chapter 1: Nevado the Tolima
The first hike in Colombia was not an easy one. With around three days, 61 km distance and reaching 4.500 meters above sea level you could call it quite challenging start. We hiked through stunning landscapes and were exposed to several several changing climate regions until finally reaching the famous Colombia paramo region. This region is particularly important as a natural water reservoir with a range of special plants, like the frailejon, that only grow in this climate conditions. At this altitude the weathers changes very fast, within one day we hiked through sunny and dry terrain, rain and muddy terrain that made us almost loose our boots – and finally walked through the sun again. At the evening of day two, after walking 20 kilometers alongside the Nevado de Tolima glacier we finally arrived one of the highlights of this hike: Los Termales del Cañon - Hot springs fueled by volcanic activity. And the best about it: The possibility of pitching the Luna tent right next to the hot springs. The perfect place to rest after two exhausting days. Jump into the hot springs and after that right into your sleeping bag! All this while being surrounded by beautiful panoramic views.
The Luna Tent at Termales del Cañon + Nevado de Tolima glacier overlooking our camp spot
Chapter 2: Paramo del Sol
There is no shortage in awesome hikes in Colombia, but this one Is extraordinary! With just 35 kilometers it’s pretty short, but full of stunning views. After reaching the basecamp, you can pitch your tent, already surrounded by the famous “frailejones”, only growing in Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador. Being fringed by these plants makes you feel as if you have arrived on another strange planet. The nights up at the basecamp located at 3.600m above sea level get quite cold, so you better make sure to pack a warm sleeping bag, supporting at least 5 degrees Celsius! Apart from that, it can also get very rainy and muddy, good boots and a solid tent are also a must. After the first cold and freezing night it was time to get to the highest part of the Antioquia region in Colombia - the highlight of the hike. It’s a hard hike, especially given the altitude of 4.000 meters above sea level – the air gets quite thin up there and makes it hard to keep up a good pace. Just one kilometer before reaching the summit, it started raining - and it was not a light rain. A few minutes later our shoes were soaked and the only thought in my head was that the tent at the basecamp hopefully held up and stayed dry. Is there anything worse than coming back from an exhausting hike, only to find your sleeping bags wet? After a cloudy sunset, during which we rarely saw the sun, we started descending in the dark and through the clouds, arriving at the basecamp just before midnight. Good news: Everything was dry, our tent withstood the heavy winds and rainfalls with no problems at all! There was nothing stopping us from getting a good rest now. The next day was already our last one on the expedition, that meant that it was time to pack up and get down to the valley to catch our bus back to Medellin, one of the busiest cities in Colombia – just five hours by bus away. All in all, this is a stunning hike, not too hard and it has to offer some amazing views, a stunning basecamp, and beautiful landscapes that you will never forget!
Chapter 3: Volcán de Fuego in Guatemala
Volcán de Fuego or in English Fire Volcano, is one of three active volcanos in Guatemala and one of the most active ones in the world. Impressive lava flows can be seen almost every hour and massive smoke columns often rise from the crater. So of course, we had to climb up there!
You cannot miss out on this spectacle when visiting Guatemala! It’s a relatively short way up, around five km distance but it goes only up – you must climb 1300 meters in height, and you will sleep at 3.700m above sea level! The path is steep, but easy to find. Don’t let any of the guides in Antigua make you unsure: you can do it perfectly without a guide! Just make sure to have a good map or app to show you the way, as as it can become quite cold and foggy up there, limiting your view to as little as one meter! We started late at the starting point, right next to the little village Aldea La Soledad, but made a good time walking up and reaching the basecamp before all the other guided tours did. Most people will do it with a guide, as they provide all the equipment – but if you want to have the best views and have a great adventure (and even cheap if you are on a budget!) on your own, you can do it by yourself. Just don’t go all alone, always be with a second person in case you get lost, or something happens! Since we made it up quite early, we had plenty of time to set up the LUNA Tent, unpack our sleeping bags and have a quick nap, before enjoying a sunset above the clouds and watching the eruptions all night.
Once you reach the basecamp and set up your tent you have three options: 1. staying in the basecamp, rest and enjoy the sunset, 2. Go to the top of Acatenango and enjoy the sunset with a 360-degree view from there or 3. Take the risky walk over the Volcan de Fuego, which will take you another three hours. But be careful of the falling stones, as these are dangerous. We chose the first option, resting and enjoying the view deciding to head to the Acatenangos summit for sunrise. Acatenango at sunrise, that means waking up at 4:30 am and making the hard walk through loose sand, 300m up to the peak. And if you thought the night was cold, wait for the sunrise at the top of Acatenango! You will be completely exposed to the freezing winds. I thought I’d never feel my fingers again after taking photos for a couple of minutes!
After soaking up all the beautiful views over all of Guatemala, we headed back down to our tent to enjoy the breakfast that we carried up and to take a little nap in the tent afterwards, before heading down again. It was my third time summiting Acatenango, and I can say that it is worth every bit of effort that you put in it – and I’ll be back for more! The views from up there are incredible and it’s a unique experience Being able to experience an active volcano so closely while lying in your cozy sleeping bag, sheltered by your tent from nature’s elements.
View from the LUNATent to Volcán de Fuego
A special thanks to Tentsile for sending me the LUNA to make these incredible experiences possible and my friend Johanna for the great company!