Pico Mifes o Mucuñuque menor at 4.620 meters (15,157 ft) is one of the highest peaks in the eastern end of the Sierra Nevada Park in Merida, The northwestern slope of the peak form a giant bowl which provides appealing mountain scenary and a route to the peak itself.
This peak is a fantastic option for "not too long" hiking / backpacking. It begins by car on the famous andino highway up the Laguna de Mucubaji (glacier lake) in the Sierra Nevada national park, this lagoon is the starting point of mucuñuque's hike.
On the road from Apartaderos to Barinas not far from Apartaderos, you will find Mucubaji Lagoon, the starting point of pico Mucuñuque excursion.
In bus terminal of Merida city, take the Barinas van (por puesto), 10 minutes after you have passed the town of apartaderos, you'll see Mucubaji park entrance, the ride time from Merida - Mucubaji is about 2-3 hours and the cost is 2$
From the park entrance, you can reach the lagoon walking for about ten minutes
In Mucubaji conference center, follow the trail that leads to "cascadas" from here you can reach the summit of pico Mifes for about 4-5 hours.
More info about Mucubaji Park:
From the conference center near the shore of Mucubají Lagoon, take the trail due south that dips down through the small ravine alongside the house. Shortly after leaving the house a junction will be reached, take the right hand trail which leads up the flat meadow-like stream course of the lagoon feeder. Cross the stream twice, heading toward the head of the stream at the "Cascadas" (a beautiful waterfall) where the trail begins its climb, you can camp here or at various higher campsites.
From the "Cascadas" the trail climbs steadily and usually not too steeply until it reaches a large headwall which is distinguished by a white gully comming steeply down in the middle of it. just before the headwall at about 4.000 mt (13.200 ft) is the last good campsite with water readily available.
From here you are really in the mountains and have left most vegetation and flat spots below you, there is no well defined trail, but the route can be traced following the numerous ducks (small rock cairns) marking the correct ascent.
The route turns to a rock hopping excursion, slow going can be expected, also as there is loose rock alongside the route, caution will be required.
Eventually after some steep climbing, the summit of pico Mifes comes to view, which is marked with a four-foot high concrete topographic post.
(Most of trail description taken from "hiking / Backpaking in the Venezuelan Andes" by Forest Leighty)
This excursion should only be undertaken by very fit and experienced excursionist, well equipped and previously authorized by park guards.
Time Required: A long day
Essential Gear: Standard hiking and camping equipment.
When To Climb
Any season is good for climbing
The climate is dry between November and April, and humid and rainy between April and October. Almost every month there is a cold spell and snow falls over the highest peaks.
The Mean Temperature oscillates between 5 and 6 ºCelsius and precipitation can attain an annual figure of 1200 mm or 47”
The weather can swing wildly in the space of day, sometimes going from a chilly -8ºC (17ºF) in the morning to a warm 22ºC (72ºF) in the afternoon.
Merida Weather Forecast:
Permissions to camp can be obtained at the park guard office in the park entrance. You must pay a small fee (1$ per person aprox)