Lying to the northeast of Mérida is the Parque Nacional Sierra Nevada, a terrain known above 3,500m as the páramo
, or high moors. The area has a barren beauty, and is scattered with small, red-roofed Andean villages. There are around 20 species of bird in the area including buzzard eagle and speckled teal, and in the rainy season from May to October, tall yellow frailejon
flowers bloom attracting large numbers of hummingbirds.
Take a guided trip to the villages of Mucuraba, and Mucuchíes. The latter is the namesake of a breed of large fluffy mountain dog that are bred locally, and a descendent of the great Pyrenees sheep dog imported from Spain. Continue to Kettle Mucubají, the largest of over 200 glacier lakes in the area. There are several villages to discover, such as Apartaderos, San Rafael de Mucuchies, and Los Aleros. From here there's a 2-3-hour walk (or mule ride) to the 3,000m Laguna Negra - views can be clouded by mist later in the day.
Alternatively, you can decide to visit the warm springs at Tabay. Overnight in Altamira de Caceres, halfway between Mérida and Hato Cedral.