On my recent trip to Colombia, I loved exploring the capital of Bogota; it's so centrally located and there is a long list of things to see and do that it's not possible to get bored. Here are my top 5 places to visit in and around the city:
1.City Tour and Gold Museum
The city of Bogota is mind-blowing, with tons of interesting places to experience. Start with the Paloquemao Market and the Candelaria Quarter, which is a great introduction to street art and a history of the architecture. The gold museum is a treasure of the city with over 34,000 gold pieces, plus 20,000 of bone, stone ceramic, and textile articles that many pirates could only have dreamt about!
2. Guatavita Lagoon
Guatavita Lagoon is a former sacred site of the Muisca Indigenous tribe and worth visiting, especially if you have visited the Gold Museum and want to learn more about the muisca culture, traditions, ceremonies and the legend of El Dorado (the Golden One). The ascent to the lagoon involves climbing 150 steps and a bit of a walk, which takes about half an hour. Along the way you will find stunning views of Cundinamarca's countryside (which remind me of areas of Costa Rica), beautiful flora including the famous frailejones, which grow at high altitude in páramo ecosystems, colorful fungi and all kinds of flowers.
3. Graffiti and Street Art
While taking a specific circuit created to see the best of the Street Art in Bogota, I learned a lot about the history of the country and also about current events. Unfortunately the movement of graffiti and street art started with tragedy, but it helped to raise consciousness among the population about political issues with artists creating very sensitive pieces to convey their points of view through art. From beginning to end, you will learn how the movement has evolved and the even more colorful future the city will have.
4. Chingaza National Natural Park
If you feel like hiking, a few minutes away from the city is Chingaza National Natural Park, which reveals the importance of a unique ecosystem that is found in very few countries in the world: the Paramo. This park of 190,000 acres, offers trails for all activity levels. Our guide, Andres, shared his amazing knowledge in natural history and we were able to observe deer and eagles although we didn't see the elusive spectacle bear. I found the trip very helpful in understanding the extreme importance that this piece of land is in providing 80% of the water that is consumed in the city.
5. Zipaquira Salt Church
You either love it or hate it. I personally admire the work involved in creating the 14 small chapels (representing the stations of the cross) on this Roman Catholic church built within the tunnels of a salt mine 200 meters (660 feet) underground in a halite mountain. The way to have a better experience here is to avoid the crowds either by going very early in the morning or late in the afternoon and never go on a holiday, let alone Holy Week.