This is a very pleasant climb for those who have hiking experience, and want to do a fairly high peak without technical mountaineering skills. It's a good acclimatization climb too, for anyone who is heading to higher mountains elsewhere.
Nevado Puracé is an active volcano that last erupted in 1977. There are some really nice swimming pool sized hot springs on this volcano too.
Pan de Azucar is south of Purace and along the main ridge. It has a "permanent" (which has apparently melted in very recent years) even though it is slightly lower than Purace.
To get to the trailhead, start at Popayan. Popayan can be reached by bus service that connects it to all major cities in Colombia. It can also be reached by air from Bogota.
From Popayan, take a bus to Cruz Mina (on the road to La Plata). Walk 2.5 kms (1.6 miles) south along the road to Pilimbala. There are a few nice home stays here where you can get a room and good hot meals.
From Pilimbala, you have two choices to begin the hike. One is a more scenic trail, and the other one is a steep road that goes past the hot springs. I recommend going up the trail, and down the road with a soak in the hot springs at the end of the hike. Here is a link to the route page: Pilimbala Route
Overnight backpackers can continue along the chain of volcanoes south and eventually reach Pan de Azúcar . Here is the route page: Pan de Azucar
. There are several volcanoes along this spectacular ridge. Plan on a round trip hike of 2-3 days if you're going all the way to Pan de Azucar.
There are other routes available on the mountain, including a southern route to Pan de Azucar, but I am not familar with them. If you have done any of the routes, feel free to post them.
Time Needed for Climb
Purace is a long day hike. Two or three days are needed to climb Pan de Azucar and Nevado Purace.
Technical gear is not needed for the climb. Expect cold, wet, and maybe snowy conditions at any time. Full camping gear is needed for Pan de Azúcar, Purace is usually done as a day hike.
No permits are required at this time, even though this is a national park.
When To Climb
The dry season is December through March. Expect very wet conditions the rest of the year.
Camping is allowed on the mountain at this time. You can camp near Pilimbala, but the homestays are very pleasant and inexpensive.
The closest weather station is Popayan which you can check below, but keep in mind that the mountains will be much cooler and wetter than Popayan.
WEATHER FORECAST FOR POPAYAN