We’ve been saying it for years here at the Colombia Travel Blog: Bogotá is more than just museums, restaurants and culture…I mean, it is all those things (very much so), but the capital of Colombia has way more to offer than just 2 nights/3 days, in and out. What people often neglect about Bogotá is it’s location smack-bang in the middle of the Eastern Range of the Colombian Andes, and all of the incredible landscapes and scenery in close proximity to the city. In just one easy day-trip you can be in páramo national parks, cloud forests full of toucans and tanagers, tropical Magdalena Valley pueblos, or the highest waterfall in Colombia.
You can follow the link at the top of this post for our original Top 5 one day trips from Bogotá, but we believe in being generous with our advice here on the Colombia Travel Blog, so here are 5 more amazing day trips you can take from Bogotá…(my general criteria for these trips is somewhere you can reach in less than 3 hours from Bogotá).
1. Chingaza & Sumapaz páramos
This is a bit of a 2-for-1: both Chingaza and Sumapaz páramos are accessible from Bogotá in a day trip, and either one is worth your time, if only to experience a uniquely South American ecosystem, which is primarily found in Colombia. The closest equivalent we might have in Europe would be a moor, but there’s really nothing like the páramo. Chingaza is a national park, and home to Andean Condors, Spectacled Bears, and endemic hummingbird species, whilst Sumapaz has the distinction of being the largest páramo on earth. These ecosystems may seem bleak and featureless at first glance, but look a little closer and you can see that the páramo is an explosion of life: from birds and mammals to plants. Not only that, but this ecosystem plays a vital role in providing water to thousands of people. The páramos were recently protected by a Colombian court order so make sure to visit Chingaza or Sumapaz now to appreciate them in their natural splendor.
2. Chicaque Natural Park
This gorgeous little slice of cloud forest, just a couple of hours south of Bogotá perfectly sums up how varied the city’s surroundings are: from the slightly chilly plateau of Bogotá to the cloud forests of Chicaque feels like you should have taken a flight to be there! Hiking around the many trails through the forests of Chicaque can yield sightings of sloths, deer and hundreds of species of birds, from toucans and tanagers to some of the most colorful endemic hummingbirds you’re likely to see. You can also stay over at the lodge or bring a tent and camp if you feel like extending your day trip. However, even those who don’t love birds and animals will surely find some magic in hiking through the protuberance of life that a cloud forest offers, past waterfalls and hidden pools, enjoying the magic of a threatened and unique environment…
3. El Jardin Encantado, San Francisco
The little town of San Francisco de Sales lies less than 2 hours to the west of Bogotá, on the road to La Vega in ‘Tierra Caliente.’ The weather here is noticeably different as you descent towards the tropical Magdalena Valley, and San Francisco is practically shorts weather! However, the main reason for a day trip to this town is to visit The Enchanted Garden…a lovely old lady’s house on the edge of town where you can see up to 12 species of hummingbird, hundreds at a time, come to feed on the 40+ feeders strung along her terrace. From the tiny Gorgeted Woodstar (the smallest bird in Colombia) to the elusive and beautiful Ruby Topaz, the hummingbirds that visit her garden on a daily basis are some of the loveliest in Colombia. For just 12.000 COP you can marvel at the little jewels for up to 2 hours, then enjoy a locally grown coffee on San Francisco’s charming plaza. Bird-lovers might also consider a day trip to the ‘Observatorio de Colibries’ on the opposite side of Bogotá, past the road to La Calera. It’s truly astonishing how much diversity can be found within just a few hours of Colombia’s ‘Big Smoke.’
4. Coffee farms in Tibacuy
I paid a visit to the coffee farms and Indigenous rock-art on a tour with Andes EcoTours in 2014, and again last year with my parents, and it’s one of the best day trips I have ever been on, not just from Bogotá. The local coffee cultivator’s collective have 5 or so small coffee farms on the slopes of the sacred Cerro del Quinini, where you can also find ancient indigenous rock-art carved into the boulders strewn across the mountain slopes. On a tour here (which is recommended, as the company works closely with the local communities to give something back, as well as bring tourists here) you will hike through the farms, learning about the coffee growing process, sampling the fresh, sweet tinto, whilst also enjoying the wildlife-rich forests, stirring Andean vistas, and mysterious rock art. Considering how many people visit the Colombian coffee region and have no idea that the first Colombian coffee was grown in Cundinamarca, and that working farms in beautiful places can easily be visited from Bogotá, this trip is, for me, almost a must on a visit to Colombia’s capital.
5. Villa de Guaduas
This is the longest of the day trips from Bogotá, but you can still reach this lovely little ‘Pueblo Patrimonio’ in less than three hours from the city. And why visit Guaduas? For it’s charming little square, cobbled streets, historical church, and lovely surrounding views over the Andean valleys where it sits. It’s also an important part of Colombian history: Policarpa Salvarietta, the greatest female independence hero of Colombia was born here, and the town can still be seen on the 10.000 COP bill that bears the image of ‘La Pola’ as she is affectionately known in Colombia. As one of the 17-strong network of significant historical Colombian towns, Guaduas may not be as celebrated or as well known as Villa de Leyva or Barichara, but it has a hectic charm of its own, that comes from it’s lesser status. Sit outside on the warm square with a coffee or cold beer, visit the house where La Pola was born, and wander the old streets of this pleasant pueblo before jumping on a bus back to Bogotá.