Soroche in Manizales, Colombia

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Soroche in Manizales, Colombia

Taken on a main street

Soroche is the spanish word that means altitude sickness.  It is quite common in the mountains of Colombia but actually makes for a good laugh.

My mother, step father and I departed Medellin for Manizales on Saturday.  According to Google maps, the drive takes 4hrs and 40 minutes along the Autopista Sur to Route 25.  But an hour into the drive you’ll quickly realize the winding single lane roads are under construction so tack on an extra 2-3 hours.

At the half way point we stopped in a small town that you literally drive through to have lunch.  Of course I order the same thing I normally get a bandeja piasa, tipica or montanero.  The name changes depending on where you are but the dish is the same – rice, beans, fillet steak, avocado, platano, chicharon, and an arepa cake.  Honestly my favorite dish no matter how many countries I travel to and different cuisines I try.

Getting back on the road, we finally arrive in Manizales.  It’s a small town of about 500k people.  I say small because I grew up in Queens – current population ~2.3m.  The best way to describe it is it’s the San Fran of Colombia.  The town is built on the side of a mountain where you can actually walk to the edge in some parts of the town and feel as if you could fall off.  This made for an amazing view though and photos.

Spending a couple of days in the area before we embarked on the trek to El Nevado del Ruiz for my moms birthday.  Oddly my families last name but not named after us.  One of my favorite discoveries was adding lime to my empanadas.  When I tell you favorite I mean we went back every day we were there for these empanadas.  I wish I remembered the name of the place but it was a corner spot on your way to el Monumento a los Colonizadoes (Monument to the Colonists).  The monuments pretty cool.  Its an artist representation, made of metal, of the conquest of those that left Medellin in search of new land.

Unfortunately I couldn’t get a good photo during the time of day we went but I did get a mouth watering one of the lime + empanadas.


To get to El Nevado we hired a guide who drove us the ~3 hour trip outside of Manizales higher into the mountains to a remote hotel.  The hotel had been opened for close to like 100 years and is known for it’s sulfur pools.

Taking a dip in the sulfur pool w/ mountains in the back
View from the hotel hallway

This is where the soroche kicked in for my mom.  We don’t really know what caused it but sis was a mess on her birthday!  Soroche is no joke when you remain in higher elevations.  As you can tell from the photos she was annoyed I kept trying to document this moment.  They’re memories I want to remember.  She’ll enjoy them at some point.

We spent the night and inevitably never made it to the el nevado. All it means is we have to go back with the entire family.  If that ever happens I’ll have to get that on tape.  She made it up to us by climbing the steps to El Penol like a champ.

Ride Down – Love You Mom

Nonetheless, with the drive, the crazy urban planning and the soroche, I wouldn’t have changed this trip.  I got to explore something new with my family and live to tell about it.

– D

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