Geography

The Sierra Nevada del Cocuy (or ‘de Güicán’) is located in the Cordillera Oriental of Colombia in the Departments of Boyacá and Arauca, east of the deep Chicamocha valley. The main divide of the Cocuy Range (6º 21’ to 6º 33’ N and 72º 15’ to 72º 19’   W) extends N-S for 23 km. The Cocuy Range contains a number of summits above 5000 m including the Ritacuba Blanco (5410 m), which conforms the highest altitude of the Eastern Cordillera.

The Sierra Nevada del Cocuy is drained by a number of rivers: Quebrada Los Osos – Negro river – Casanare river in the SE; rivers Lagunillas, Corralitos and Cardenillo affluents in Nevado and the Chicamocha rivers in the W; Orozco and Derrumbada rivers, Rudiván (or Cobugón) and Cusay rivers draining from the North into Arauca river; Quebrada Tunabera, S. Lope and Purare rivers affluent to Casanare river in the East. In the west the hydrological system connects to the Magdalena river and to the Caribbean. All other drainage goes to the Orinoco river and to the equatorial Atlantic.

The Sierra Nevada del Cocuy contains numerous glacial lakes, the largest ones are the La Plaza (4200 m) and the Laguna Grande de los Verdes (3975 m), and Laguna Grande de La Sierra (4450 m). Glacial lakes in the Lagunillas valley include Laguna la Pintada, La Cuadrada, La Parada and La Atrevesada, all situated around 3950 and 4100 m in the upper grass páramo.

The Parque Nacional Natural El Cocuy was declared in 1977 and has an area of 306,000 ha within 11 municipalities and three departamentos: Boyacá, Arauca and Casanare. Most of the Park’s area is located on the eastern slopes of the Cocuy Range allowing biodiversity exchange between low (about 600 m) and high altitude (as always has been in the past). The Uwa (or Tunebo) indigenous communities have 132.000 ha inside the Park.