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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. 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 want to escape from city life for a bit, here are 5 superb options.
1. Zipaquira Salt Cathedral
Zipaquira Salt Cathedral is a feat of human endeavour. Architecturally outstanding, 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. 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. 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. The views here are magnificent and you can even walk through the waterfalls to discover what lies behind them.
5. Tierra Caliente
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. It makes a stark change being in the warmth of the sunshine, and I loved relaxing in the main square. If you find a Colombian friend with a finca in tierra caliente, don’t be surprised to be invited on the next Puente!