A mountain lake AND a little taste of Venice: Laguna Cocha is quite the place. Hidden in between hills twenty kilometres east of Pasto, deep in the south of Colombia, a visit here makes for a perfect daytrip.>/span>
The entire area looks more like a delta, as there is a long relatively flat area stretching from the hills towards the lake. The closer you get, the wetter: beyond the village of El Encano you really end in a lagoon, where most houses are built on wooden poles.
It’s a lovely sight, the small canals leading towards the lake, where it gets busier and busier. There are wooden bridges everywhere crossing the 5 meter wide stream. And there are small boats Cocha-style: for around ten people, with a small diesel engine in the back.
Because you don’t need a lot of fuel to enjoy the lake. The main attraction, the small island of La Corota, is only five minutes away. The lake itself is much bigger, but most locals will nit make a big tour with you. They mainly take tourists to the island and pick them up there an hour or so later.
That’s enough time to walk around La Corota, in itself a miniature cloud forest with lots of biodiversity and a nice but short trail. After that it’s back to the mainland, to enjoy freshly grilled trout, a local specialty apparently.
In the village near the lagoon are two places where you ca hop on a boat. Ask the locals to join other groups to share the costs. They are of course trying to sell a boat trip to individual tourists and make more money, so don’t fall into that trap.
A ‘collectivo’ (a shared taxi) is also the way to reach Laguna Cocha from Pasto. They depart from the east side of the Hospital Universitario at the junction of Calle 21a and Carrera 7. It’s a 30-45 minute drive, through the El Encano village, to the laguna. The collectivo drives you to the boat stand, they leave from the parking lot a couple of hundred metres back.