La pastora, Risaralda: A place you have probably never heard of
January 1, 1970
by Alejandra Saladen
La pastora is located in the Ucumarí Natural Regional Park. This place is the visitor center of this natural reserve, where hundreds of tourists and locals come yearly to disconnect from technology and take a break from their busy lives.
If you are looking for a quite place to spend some days hinking, chasing waterfalls, resting and enjoying a beautiful view this is the perfect place for you. (I know, I always say that but it’s true. There is a perfect place for everyone somewhere)
To start, let me tell you how to get there. It is about 4 hours from Pereira, Risaralda (1 hour by car or bus and 3 hours on foot). Well, the 3 hours on foot depends on your physical condition and hiking skills. I personally took 2.5 hours to get to the refuge, making some stops to take pictures and to rest. I am not the best hiker I have to admit but I thought it was going to be worse, so I am pretty sure you can do it too!
You can take a chiva bus (the Colombia’s artisan rustic bus) from ciudad victoria square or plaza ciudad Victoria. The chiva runs every two hours during the weekends, at 7 am, 9 am, 11 am, 1 pm and 3pm but the schedule is different during the week (Just be aware of that).
The chiva will take you to el Cedral, where the trail to la pastora starts. There are two options, you can hike or you can go by horse but that has an extra cost of course. I have never ridden a horse to get there (probably 1.5 hours) but honestly I recommend you to walk and enjoy the journey, the trail is not that long.
This area of the coffee region is beautiful as the other ones so you won’t regret the little hike.
The trail to La Pastora
As I said before, the trail starts in el Cedral. You will find a map of the park and all the information related to the distance and places (where to camp and where to find cabins if you don’t have camping equipment). Also, you will be able to see the different paths and rivers that you are going to pass. The map will show you that there are 6 km from el Cedral to la pastora.
The path is very muddy and rocky so I strongly recommend you to wear rain boots or a good pair of hiking shoes. I also suggest you to bring a light jacket or a rain jacket in case it rains. The weather is very unpredictable around this area.
Along the way, you will find signs that show you the progress. They will indicate if you are at 0% (beginning), 15% (1km), 30% (2km), 60% (4km) and 90% (5km).
Accomodation at the visitor center
At the visitor center you can camp or you can reserve a bedroom to sleep in the cabin. The rooms have three bunk beds, this means that you would need to share the room with other guests or if you are traveling with your family or your group of friends you would share the room with them. The bathroom is also shared, there are not private rooms so this is the only option you have if you want to spend the night indoors. The price is $28.000 per night per person, around $9.00 or if you prefer to camp the cost is $8.000 per night per person around $2.00.
The place is very affordable and it is in great condition, the bedrooms, bathrooms and social area are very clean and everything in this place is just very organized. You will definitely feel like home.
Oh! Just for your information, there is not electricity at this place, so you won’t be able to charge your devices, so be aware of that. The place is illuminated by candles, which gives it a very cozy feeling.
There is also a nice fireplace inside the cabin, which is on during the night and you are allowed to be there for as long as you want. You can buy a bottle of wine or a bag of marshmallows at their little store and enjoy them around the fire. The fireplace is located in the living room, so you can get comfortable and enjoy the night.
At night you will be able to see the amazing sky, the nights are usually cleared and starry.
Here is an example of a starry night in la pastora.
What to eat in La Pastora
Since you are at the visitor center you can pay for all the meals there. The food is really good and the menu is different every day. Breakfast is $8.000 (around $3.00), lunch is $12.000 ($4.00) and dinner is also $12.000 ($4.00). Not bad at all, right? There are some other options like aguapanela with cheese, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, etc.
Paying for the food at the visitor center will allow you to have more time to rest and enjoy the area.
If you don’t like this option you can also bring your own food or if you are camping you can cook outside. The place has some stoves where you can prepare your meals. You would just need to buy the wood at the visitor center which costs $3.000 ($1.00).
These are the food options at la pastora but if you are exploring the area, on your way back you can make some stops. One that I recommend is la florida. You can take the chiva bus again at el Cedral but instead of getting off in Pereira you get off in la florida which is approximately 1 hour or so from el Cedral.
In la florida you will have more food options and you can enjoy a nice cup of coffee with a nice view, since you are in the coffee region.
Oh! And if you decide to make a stop in la florida, don’t forget to try the famous torta de trucha, it is the typical food around this area.
Have a nice trip!