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IMPULSE TRAVEL TEAM

We are a team of storytellers here to bring you the best Colombia has to offer. On our blog, we answer your most frequent questions and uncover our countries mysteries, culture, and highlights for you.

Already attended some of our immersive Bogota experiences and seeking a little reprieve from the constant bustle and energy of the city? Luckily for you, we have gathered all the information you need to organize the best day trips from the Colombian capital.

Table of contents:

1. Guatavita

2. Zipaquirá

3. La Chorrera

4. Natural Park Chicaque

5. Salt Mine in Nemocón

6. Villa de Leyva

7. Suesca

8. Chingaza

1. Guatavita

Description:
The Guatavita Lagoon is located in a northeastern reserve of Bogota, in the municipality of Sesquile. The Lagoon is most famous for the “El Dorado” legend. Beyond being the basis for a popular Dreamworks film (ring a bell?), this legend inspired gold and treasure hunters from all over to pursue dreams of instant wealth. More importantly, the area was home to the Muisca people who performed various rituals and ceremonies at the Lake. “El Dorado” or The Golden One in English was the name of the priest in charge of special ceremonies of worship for the Muisca people's water goddess. This priest would be covered in shimmery gold dust, sail out on the Guatavita Lagoon and subsequently wash himself clean. The indigenous people would throw golden figures into the water as offerings. A handful of these figures are displayed at the Gold Museum of Bogotá.

The Guatavita Lagoon

Activities and attractions:
You can join a great guided tour at the entrance of the Lagoon, however, as they are in Spanish, guided tours in English should be booked in advance or with a travel agency. It is possible to explore the reserve by yourself as well, there are informative signs about flora, fauna and the history of the area. The hike around the lagoon is around 40 min without stops, and generally very easy. However, there are some steep ascents and steps, that can be challenging for those not yet used to the altitude (3100 m a.s.l.).

If you travel to the Lagoon you should benefit from its proximity to the quaint town of Guatavita and pay it a visit. The town moved its location in the 1970s due to a man-made water reservoir, and is thus very well planned out with stark white houses and intricately stone-paved streets! You can reach the town relatively easy by taking transport from the Lagoon entrance (Bus around 2.000 COP).

How to get there:
To get to the Lagoon it takes around 2 hours given that you cannot get to the Lagoon directly via public transport. You can take a public bus from Portal Norte in Bogotá with direction to the town of Guatavita (this trip costs around 9.000 COP) and ask the driver to let you get off at the entrance way for the Guatavita Lagoon. From there you can decide to walk 7km to the entrance or take a small taxi or a bus. On the weekends, there are buses that take you up to the Lagoon for 3.500 COP. The taxis are cheaper if you share them with more people (around 60.000 COP) a great reason to make new friends! The walkway isn’t too challenging and the entrance is easy to find, just follow the road, it only takes some time. To get back to Bogotá, get back to the drop-off point on the main street (by walking or by bus) and wait on the other side of the road for a bus to Bogotá. You can also take a bus in the other direction and spend some time in the town of Guatavita (2.000 COP) before taking a bus from there directly to Bogotá.
If you are seeking a more direct and comfortable route, its best advised to book a tour or rent a car.

Price and Opening Hours:
The reserve Guatavita Lagoon has an entrance fee of 17.000 COP for foreigners. It is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 am to 4 pm (closed on Mondays).

More information:

(Spanish) https://lagunadelcaciqueguatavita.blogspot.com/

(Spanish) https://www.facebook.com/lagunadeguatavita/

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2. Zipaquirá

Description:
Zipaquirá is a small town north of Bogota known for its marvelous Salt Cathedral, situated a whole 180 meters underground! The Salt Cathedral and the town can easily be visited in four hours and is often planned with a visit to Zipaquirá due to their proximity. Two birds, one trip. 

Main Chamber of the Cathedral


Activities and attractions:
The Salt Cathedral offers guided tours, but you can also go by yourself with an audio guide. Right near the entrance, your visit begins with the stations of the cross, and later you can see the dome and the three main chambers of the cathedral. There is additionally a mesmerizing light installation, an impressive water mirror and the grandiose tree of life artwork.

The town of Zipaquirá itself is also worth a good stroll. The historic center with the Plaza de Los Comuneros, the Catedral Diocesana, and the Town Hall, reflect a colonial architecture and give the town a certain charm.

How to get there:
With public transport, it takes around 45 minutes from the Portal Norte to get to the town of Zipaquirá. There are buses leaving every 15 minutes with direction to Zipaquirá (the buses indicate “Zipa”). The trip costs around 5.400 COP. From the bus station, it is a 10-minute walk passing the town center to the salt cathedral (the way is signed for your convenience).

Another option is to go with the steam train from Bogotá to Zipaquirá. This offers a romantic and comfortable alternative. The train runs from the Sabana Station (Calle 13 No. 18 – 24) via Usaquen (Avenida 9 No. 110 – 08) and costs around 58.000 COP for an adult. On their website, you can check out prices, schedules, and ticket offices:  http://www.turistren.com.co/en/

Price:
The entrance fee for the Salt Cathedral is 55.000 COP for foreigners, with reduced prices for Colombians, elderly people and children.

More information:

(Spanish and English) http://www.catedraldesal.gov.co/

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3. La Chorrera

Description:
With a height of over 590 m (1935 ft.) this waterfall is the biggest and baddest in Colombia! It is located 45 minutes south of Bogotá, near the town of Choachí, surrounded by a lush green landscape. The park is well organized and equipped with a station at the entrance where you are able to camp, educate yourself about the park and grab your souvenirs and snacks in their shop. Feeling hungry? Fear not, inside the park there is also a restaurant where you can order lunch. A trip to this waterfall is the ideal trip to escape the pumpingcity and enjoy nature at its finest.

View of (part of) la Chorrera from the Monkey Cave

Activities and attractions:
There is a hiking trail of around 3 to 4 hours with seven stations that include la Chorrera waterfall and El Chiflón, another smaller waterfall (55 m or 180 ft.). There are guides at each station that will offer information (not all are able to communicate in English) about the park, its history, and the flora and fauna. 15 minutes into the park you will see el Chiflón. This site is known for the amazing path that is tucked behind the water curtain of the waterfall. There is also La Cueva de los Monos or “Monkey cave” with stalagmites in peculiar forms and an incredible view of the landscape. In the park, other activities like horse riding and rappelling are also offered. A true adventure site!

Tips:
The walking way can get very muddy (especially in the case of recent rainfall), so we recommend to leave your brightest, whitest new reeboks at the home and opt instead for hiking or rubber boots that can get dirty. You should also bring a rain jacket as the area is pretty humid and it can rain - or if you want to get really close to the waterfalls without getting drenched. On Sundays and holidays, many Colombians will take the chance to visit, if you are a fan of tranquil hikes you should avoid these days.

How to get there:
By public transport, you can take a bus offered by Transoriente and Cootransfómeque in the direction of Choachí. The buses leave at Calle 6 and Av. Caracas (near the Transmilenio station Tercer Milenio. The ticket price is around 9.500 COP. Tell the bus driver or the ayudante that you want to go to the Chorrera waterfall. This way they will drop you off at the entrance for ‘La Chorrera’. From there it is a one hour walk to the entrance of the park. You can avoid the longer journey by taking a local taxi for 5.000 COP per person. To get back to Bogotá just walk back to the drop-off point and wait on the other side of the road for a bus to Bogotá. You might have to stand during the ride back as the buses start at Choachí and already have passengers.

Price:
The park entrance fee depends on what you want to see, ranging from 5.000 COP for only El Chiflón (the smaller waterfall), to 12.000 COP for la Chorrera and the Cave (25.000 COP extra for a personal guide).

More information:

(Spanish and English) http://www.lachorrera.com.co/site/index

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4. Natural Park Chicaque

Description:
The Natural Park Chicaque is located 45 min from Bogota. It is well known for its marvelous flora and fauna. A trip to Chicaque is ideal for nature-lovers who want to see all the natural wonders and Colombian wildlife that the Andes has to offer. Ecological trails in a stunning cloud forest invite to long hikes. For more detailed information have a look at our blog post about Chicaque.

Ecological trail

Activities and attractions:
The park offers different hiking trails that you can explore on your own or with a guide. Amongst other things, you can visit a waterfall, different creeks, the ‘eagle’s peak’ (a viewpoint), rocks and an oak forest.

Apart from hiking through the park, you can also zipline, ride horses and engage in a spot of canopying. The nature in the park is astounding, with exotic plants and animals around every corner. Although most of the animals around are birds, if you're really lucky you might catch a sloth or two, they're not too quick afterall. It is also possible to spend the night there in different accommodations (camping, tree houses) if you want to get even more out of the experience. 

Entrance Fee:
Depending on the season you pay between 15.000 COP and 16.500 COP for a day in the park.

How to get there:
On the weekend, the park offers transportation from the Transmilenio station “Terreros/Hospital” directly to the park entrance. Buses leave at 7:00 am, 8:00 am, 9:00 am, and 11:00 am and have a cost of 6.000 COP. If you are a group, you can also rent the park’s express service at another time. To go during the week gets a little more complicated (by public transport) - we recommend hiring the express service of the park. Have a look here: http://www.chicaque.com/en/location/expreso-chicaque/

More Information:

(English) https://impulsetravel.co/tour-operator/en/blog/24/parque-natural-chicaque-how-to-go-and-what-to-see

(English) http://www.chicaque.com/en/home/


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5. Salt Mine in Nemocón

Description:
Nemocón is a little peaceful town one hour north of Bogotá. It is famous for its old Salt Mines. Located close to Zipaquirá, it can easily be combined with a trip to the Salt Cathedral or the Guatavita Lagoon. Nemocón is not as renowned as Zipaquirá, making it a little less touristy and more authentic. Formerly in operation, the Salt Mines are no longer used and now a intriguing attraction to visit.

Salt Mine

Activities and attractions:
At the entrance of the Salt Mine, there is a museum with information on the history of the site. The tour through the mine takes about 1.5 hours and is with a guide so you’ll learn about the history and geology of the place. The scenes like the Salt Waterfall and the Natural Mirrors are beautifully lit and make the trip through the tunnels a spectacular experience. Beyond exploring the Salt Mine, you should take the time to visit the center of the town, having the Parque Principal with Church San Francisco de Asís and the monument Sacrificio de Los Comuneros Nemoconenses.

How to get there:
There are direct buses going from the Portal Norte to Nemocón. Just flag them down when they drive up to get in. The trip costs 7.000 COP. Alternatively, you can visit Zipaquirá first and take a minibus from there to Nemocón.

Price:
The entrance fee for the Salt Mine is 26.000 COP for adults with discounts for elderly and children.

More information:

(Spanish) https://www.minadesal.com/


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6. Villa de Leyva

Description:
Villa de Leyva is a small town, located in the department of Boyaca, approximately 3 hours from Bogotá. This colonial town seems frozen in time with its cobbled streets and whitewashed buildings. If you want to escape the fast-paced city of Bogotá this is the ideal place to go.

Main Square


Activities and attractions:
Villa de Leyva has a beautiful town center and the vast Plaza Mayor is a popular photo-opp stop. Stroll through the small streets and enjoy the facades! In the surroundings of Villa de Leyva you can find the Archaeological Park Monquirá, also dubbed “El Infiernito” or Little Hell in English, Los Pozos Azules, little blue pools that contrast against the arid landscape which is home to the infamous Terracotta House, the biggest pottery work of the world: all of them worth visiting.

Tip:
As the drive to Villa de Leyva is quite long, it's best to stay there longer than one day. This way you won’t have to stress about time and can get the best experience of the town and its surroundings.

How to get there:
You can go there directly by bus from Portal Norte or Terminal de Salitre e.g. with the company Flota Valle de Tenza. The bus ride takes three hours and costs around 25.000 COP.

Price:
For the bus ride, you’ll pay around 25.000 COP one way - less if your haggle game is strong! The entry to the Terracotta house costs 10.000 COP per person and to Infiernito 5.000 COP for adults.

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7. Suesca

Description:
Suesca is just an hour bus ride from Bogotá. It is famous for its natural rock cliffs that are 4 km long and the Suesca lake at 3.000 m a.s.l. This trip is fantastic for active travelers and nature lovers, who are craving some adventure sports and a day out of the city. The rocks and the landscape really are one-of-a-kind and one of the best places to visit outside of Bogotá.

Railway and rocks
 

Activities and attractions:
Suesca and its surroundings are ideal for hikes, be it the rocky cliffs, the railroad or even Suesca Lake itself. At the rocks, you’ll find a lot of agencies that offer rock climbing at different skill levels. Horse riding is also possible. Another wonder of nature is the natural monoliths you can explore on a hike there. The town has a cute center with a church that is worth visiting if you have enough time. Near the cliffs, you can find a pretty well-equipped camping site if you want to spend the night there.

How to get there:
Getting to Suesca is relatively easy by bus. Take an Alianza bus (red buses) from Terminal Norte in the direction of Suesca. The drive costs around 7.000 COP. If you want to get off at the rocks directly, tell the bus driver to drop you off there, the entrance pathway is a little before the town. From there you only have to walk along the railroad less than 10 minutes and you are there!

Price:
Depending on the rock climbing you want to do (time and level) the prices vary, but you can get a guide and equipment from 50.000 COP. Camping at the site there costs 15.000 COP per person for one night.

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8. Chingaza

Description:
Just a mere hour from Bogotá you'll find the stunning National Park Chingaza. It is famous for its beautiful Páramo landscape, the lagoons, and its wildlife.

Vegetation in Chingaza


 

Activities and attractions:
The main activity at the Chingaza National Park is hiking. There are different trails which you can take by yourself and others with which you need to book a guide. It is ideal to learn about this unique ecosystem. The area is very well protected and other forms of transport such as horse riding or mountain biking are not allowed. The landscape and vegetation are incredible and if you are lucky you will spot different animals like bears, deer, and condors (bears, deers and condors, oh my!). You can also camp at the park or stay at a simple shelter for an overnight trip.

Tip:
To enter the park you have to make a reservation 15 days prior to your visit! The number of people who can visit the park daily is restricted, so you’ll want to inform the park about your visit in advance. You can do it here: ecoturismo@parquesnacionales.gov.co 

The weather can be changing very quickly, so bring clothes and equipment for rain and sun!

How to get there:
By public transport, it is very difficult to get there. You can go from Bogotá to a small town nearby called Guasca. Take a bus by TransGuasca or Flota Valle de Tenza on Carrera 13 with Calle 72 in direction to Guasca. Tell the bus driver to drop you off at the entrance to the Chingaza National Park (“Paso Hondo”). From there, however, you’d still have to walk 6km to get to the Siecha control post. We definitely recommend to go there by private vehicle or book a tour.

Price:
The entrance fee for the park is 42.000 COP for foreign adults. There are discounts for children.

More information:

(English)  http://www.parquesnacionales.gov.co/portal/en/ecotourism/orinoco-region/chingaza-national-natural-park/


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