Does It Really Snow in Colombia?
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If you are thinking of taking a trip to Colombia, it’s really important to understand what the weather is like and what sort of clothing you should pack. Colombia is a very biodiverse country and is known for being home to many different climates.
Although Colombia is generally thought of as tropical, it does sometimes snow on the mountain peaks – but only on the peaks. The rest of the country enjoys fairly stable weather throughout the year, thanks to the country’s proximity to the equator. January is the coldest month, but snow normally only falls on peaks that are over 15000 feet high.
In this article, we’re going to learn a little more about how Colombia’s weather works and what sort of climates you should expect to see.
What Climates are Found In Colombia?
For the most part, Colombian weather is fairly tropical throughout the year. Even in the cities built at relatively high altitudes, snowfall is almost unheard of most years.
I mean, I live in Medellin, Colombia, and while the altitude is somewhat high here (4,905 feet), it’s not cold enough to snow. Now, sometimes we get a very rare hail storm, and it looks like snow, but it ain’t the same thing.
Also, you aren’t likely to see snow in places like Bogota, Popayan, or even Salento, which is close to a snow-covered peak, known as Nevada del Quindio.
Now I’m saying unlikely because it did show in Bogata for the first time in 60 years on June 24, 2022. Side note: if you plan on visiting Bogota, read this before you go: Best Time to Visit Bogota for a Vacation.
Also, it does occasionally snow in Popayan, which is one of the coldest big cities – but this is an extremely rare event too.
It last snowed in Popayan more than a decade ago, and the snowfall before that was more than 50 years prior. You might get lucky, but it’s pretty unlikely.
In most cases, the temperature simply doesn’t get low enough to allow snow to form. The air is too warm, so the precipitation remains unfrozen.
Even in Salento, the average coldest temperatures are around 52 degrees F. When I visited Salento, I needed to use my hoodie at night, but it wasn’t extremely cold.
You can experience warmer and colder weather in Colombia, but it has more to do with altitude than anything else.
If you travel into the areas with higher altitudes, such as in the Coffee Culture Landscape, you will see temperatures falling when compared with Santa Marta, Cali, Bucaramanga, and other cities at lower altitudes.
However, even in these high altitudes, the temperature often isn’t cold enough to allow for snow. You’ll need warmer clothing, but not winter gear.
In most cases, you’ll need to head into the Páramo climate to see snowfall. This is around 3000-4000 meters (9842 to 1312 feet) above sea level, and the temperature tends to be below 50 degrees F, making it cold enough for snow to fall and settle.
Now I know we are talking about snow, but if you plan on traveling to Cartagena, you need to get clued in on what to wear there.
Where Can You Go To See Snow?
If you are very keen to see snow, there are parts of Colombia you can go to – so let’s look at these next.
It’s best to visit the country between December and March, which is when the temperatures tend to be cool and dry.
There are various difficulty levels, making this a fun option for travelers who wish to hike in cold conditions. The scenery is – as you would expect – extremely impressive and beautiful.
You could also check out the Los Nevados National Natural Park, which is an exceptionally popular destination.
It’s made up of many famous sites, including the Nevado de Santa Isabel, the craters of La Olleta, the Nevado del Ruiz, and much more. If you want to see the breathtaking beauty of nature and snowy Colombia, this is the place to go.
You might want to travel to the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Nature Park, too.
However, there is an important caveat here: many parts of this mountain range are sacred to the indigenous people.
Before you travel here, it’s important to seek permission from the authorities of these communities to ensure you are not causing offense.
You have to go up to the peaks to find snow, but there are several where it falls, including the Simón Bolívar and the Cristobal Colón, which are among the highest.
Notably, the Sierra Nevada de Santa mountain is the highest coastal mountain in the world, so it’s well worth a visit.
Now before you decide to get that rental car and start hopping around Colombian National Parks, you will want to read this article Is It Safe To Drive In Colombia?
Can You Ski In Colombia?
Skiing has become an immensely popular sport for many tourists, but it’s unfortunately not an activity you can easily undertake while visiting Colombia.
Some tourists do ski on the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, but this is only really accessible to skilled and confident skiers and should be approached with caution to avoid accidents, as the terrain is rough.
Probably better to stick to the ski resorts in Argentina and Chile if you really want a South American ski trip!
Also, are you considering making a move to Colombia? Short term? Then you need to know the pros and cons which I describe here in this link.
Snow is not unheard of in Colombia, but it is really only seen at high elevations, and it’s pretty rare. Hail is more common in higher-altitude towns and cities.
You aren’t likely to see it in any of the major cities, even if you go during the coldest seasons. If you want to see snow, you will need to plan a trip to the peaks, where the altitude makes it cold enough for snow to land.
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