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We couldn’t face waiting two hours to be served breakfast in Cascada’s La Tribu restaurant so filled up on crisps, cheese slices, fresh tomato and cans of pop (for the requisite caffeine injection) in our room instead, and escaped left for the day as soon as possible. We drove to Banos Morales, not to use the baths as we’ve heard not so good things about them, but to park up and walk into the El Morado National Park. Most of the road to the park was gravel, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that it was bloody awful. After 15 miles of it I was ready to abandon the car and walk. It was by far the worst road that we encountered on the trip – deep ruts, huge potholes and bridges that really tested my nerves.

Whoever wrote the entry in the guidebook that says that the trek to the lagoon levels out after the first 30 mins of walking, lied. It levelled out eventually yes, but quite a few more miles in. As it’s on the tourist trail we encounter a steady stream of walkers, some of whom look like they’re struggling with the heat and altitude. We comment on one group where the guides are marching on ahead, whilst some of their customers are flagging, and on catching them up realise that it’s a group from Cascada. Each guest has paid almost £100 for the privilege of being driven to the village car park, and forgmarched up to the lagoon. I hope they at least got a packed lunch as well, as they don’t look like they’re having fun.

As Rich is having difficulty breathing properly and isn’t able to power up hills like he does normally,  and my head is starting to hurt, we decide to turn back rather than push on for the lagoon. As we descend we meet the warden on horseback, out to check that everyone who started the trek is in a fit enough state to finish it, and if not to give them a free ride back to the registration centre. They stop anyone coming on to the trail after 3pm to try and avoid anyone getting stranded, and make sure that everyone who’s signed in signs out.

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By the time we reach the car we’re both suffering from heatstroke. I just about manage to drive us back to the complex but start being sick as soon as we get to our room. Rich also has a thumping headache so we forego dinner and just lay down for the rest of the evening. Still, at least our trips are always memorable!

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