Yesterday Ryan brought you about the best way to spend 24 Hours in Bogotá. Continuing the theme, but for you more outdoorsy types, today I’m looking at what to do if you’ve got 24 hours in Bogotá, but you fancy stepping outside the city.
As you walk around Bogotá on a clear day, through the bustling colonial streets of La Candelaria or the leafy parks in the north of the city, there‘s one thing you can never fail to notice. Bogotá’s mountains loom large over the city, peaking through gaps in buildings at every corner, serving as a reminder that life doesn’t end where Bogotá ends. For many travelers, life only just begins once you step outside the city’s perimeters.
But the mountains only hint at the range of activities available for the traveler on a trip to Bogotá. It’s a little known fact that of all the cities in the world, Bogotá boasts the most options for going on day-long excursions. Indeed, there’s a wealth of options for you to choose from, including waterfalls, colonial villages, mountain treks and much, much more. So, if you’re arriving to Bogotá on a business trip or just for leisure, but you don’t want to spend your time in the city, we’ve collected a list of our top 5 one day tips that take you outside Colombia’s capital city.
1. Zipaquira Salt Cathedral
Zipaquira Salt Cathedral is a feat of human endeavor and devotion. The cathedral was excavated from Zipaquira’s salt mines and is almost 400ft deep, covering a total area of around 8000m². The cathedral receives thousands of visitors weekly, from devout followers to tourists wishing to marvel at the sheer grandiosity of the structure. The cathedral is stunningly lit with various hues, lending it a unique ambience as you stroll around, flanked by stunning salt sculptures. Tours to Zipaquira Salt Cathedral are readily available, and transfer from Bogotá is quick and easy.
Lake Guatavita is a stunning, circular lake set amid verdant, rolling fields 35km from Bogotá. The lake is where the legend of El Dorado originates. According to this legend, in the pre-Columbian days the indigenous people held religious ceremonies wherein the Chief, with his body totally covered with gold dust, was submerged into the lake as an offering to their gods. While all this took place, natives threw previous stones and gold into the lake. Nowadays, of course, there’s no gold to be found but the lake still retains a sense of history and is a great place for a hike. In addition, you can visit the nearby village of Guatavita, a newly constructed village in place of the old settlement that was flooded in 1967 (when the water-level is low, you can still see the cross at the peak of the church).
Suesca is a small town on the outskirts of Bogotá that’s famed for rock climbing and trekking. Just 45 minutes away from Colombia’s capital, it’s a charming mountain town surrounded by beautiful, craggy landscape. Bogotá River, at one of its cleanest points, also runs through the town and offers scenic hiking options. The town has one particular main attraction, however, as Suesca is considered the home of Colombian rock climbing. In fact, located in the town is a rock climbing and development center named Epopeya, which is run by a gentleman named Marcelo, the first Colombian to climb Mount Everest. It’s little wonder he chose to locate himself here – the spectacular climbing options are unparalleled in Colombia.
4. La Chorrera
La Chorrera is Colombia’s tallest waterfall and for keen hikers and adventurers, it’s well worth a visit. The journey itself is for the most part on foot, and in total takes roughly 1 hour and 15 minutes. You’ll need to have a lift arranged for you to navigate the journey through cloud forests to the other side of Bogotá’s mountains, but once you’re there you begin a 45 minute trek to the first stop off point. Here you’ll find a helpfully located restaurant where you can get a good meal for around $13000 pesos. Once you’re sufficiently rested, you’ll take another half an hour to reach the waterfalls. The views here are magnificent and you can even walk through the waterfalls to discover what lies behind them. For the brave it’s also possible to swim but be warned, it’s very cold! If you arrange the trip with See Colombia Travel, it’s also possible to pre-order a delicious meal of local trout for your return, the perfect end to a memorable hike.
5. Tierra Caliente
Ok, if you go searching for a town called Tierra Caliente we’re not going to take the blame for you wasting your day. Tierra Caliente is what Colombians, and especially Bogotanos, refer to as the regions outside of Bogotá that are lower than 1000km and therefore much warmer than the sometimes-chilly Bogotá. There are plenty of places you can visit, little towns and villages where you’ll be able to sunbathe and swim. Recently I went to La Mesa, a quaint town with a peaceful atmosphere and stunning views of the surrounding hills. It makes a stark change being in the warmth of the sunshine, and I loved relaxing in the main square. Night times are also a great time to be in La Mesa as locals and Bogotanos begin to feel the force of those ‘relaxing’ beers they had in the day time…
For more information on any of these trips, ask here.