From Lomas Redonda, the second-highest point on the Teleférico, you can hire donkeys, mules, or horses for a descent to Los Nevados, a secluded mountain village that was once a garrison for Spanish conquistadors. Following an initial sharp ascent through a thick forest called the Bosque de los Coloraditos, you'll begin a four- to five-hour ride down a rocky path followed by pre-colonial indigenous peoples. Weary and winded, you finally come upon the red-tile roofs of
Los Nevados. There are unpretentious accommodations in local posadas. For the return trip, take a four-wheel-drive vehicle back to Mérida. This route takes you through tiny hamlets, past generations-old farms, colonial ruins, and some of the most spectacular scenery in the Andes.