Free walking tour Bogotá

Free walking tour Bogotá [English]

Tour heroes Bogotá

Not being my first day in Bogotá, nor the first time visiting the historical center, La Candelaria, I've heard on Couchsurfing about a free walking tour that happens every day.

I've been thinking about it for a long time, but never had the opportunity. Finally, yesterday, I registered on their website, for this free walking tour Bogotá, called heroes tour Bogotá, all in English, but also available in French and Spanish according to their website.

Registration is required prior to the tour, to make sure they keep it to a working number of participants, and also to be able to contact us in case of anything, like new meeting location due to bad weather.

After doing the online registration, I got an email confirming my participation in the tour on the requested day, and some practical informations about timing, meeting location, how to find the guide, or what to bring with us.

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Heroes tour Bogotá

Meeting on Bolivar square

The meeting is at the main square of the city, Bolivar square, where I arrived at about 10:15am, or 15 minutes before the starting time, after an approximate 30 minutes walk for 2.5km from my hotel, the Ibis Bogotá Museo.

Cheap rates Ibis Bogotá Museo

It was pretty easy to find the guide, which was holding an orange umbrella marked with Heroes tour, the name of this city tour Bogotá, which is supposed to be more informative than a standard tour – and, well, it was!

One guide greeted me on arrival, and it was actually the young English / Spanish / French speaking student that would take us through this tour. The other guide, that was holding the umbrella, was a professional experienced guide that knows a lot of things about the area, but Spanish speaking only – therefore the student to do the talking.

As the tour is supposed to last 3h30, and I arrived straight from my hotel without any breakfast, and was a little early, I asked where to get a bottle of water, which I did, while the guides were awaiting for more people to join, I was the first one to show up.

Back with my bottle of water, there was 4 people more, all waiting for the tour to begin.

Cheap flights and hotels Bogotá, Colombia

La Candelaria Bogotá

The tour started by an explanation of the surroundings, as the Bolivar square is surrounded by important buildings: the Capitol with the house of Congress on the South, the town hall on the East, the court on the North, and the Cathedral on the East.

After these explanations, we could start our tour, by going up in the streets of La Candelaria in Bogotá, and nearly directly out of the main street, to see a hidden gem that we surely wouldn't find alone, the declaration of the human rights in Spanish.

We also got detailed explanations on why and how it got there, which made the tour start in a very interesting way.

This mural was actually behind a statue of Rufino José Cuervo, which I personally never heard about, except for the Mexican tequila.

This Colombian writer, linguist and philologist had an interesting life, about which we learned a little bit, before going to our next stop, his family's house.

Rufino José Cuervo on Wikipedia

Caro y Cuervo institute

We continue the tour by entering the house of Rufino José Cuervo, which is now the Caro and Cuervo institute, an educative center about Spanish language.

The beautiful house opens on a large courtyard with a central fountain, protected by decorated transparent glass, and surrounded by vegetation. A security guard tells us where we are free to roam.

We pass this first courtyard to enter a second one, with a magnificent tree in the center, and stop there to learn more about José Cuervo, this Spanish descendant which played a major role in independence of the colonies from Spain.

We also learned great anecdotes, like how he created his beer brewery, and pushed the population towards usage of his beer instead of keeping drinking chicha, a home-made fermented alcoholic of cooked maize with sugar.

Caro and Cuervo institute official website
Chicha beverage on Wikipedia

Garcia Marquez cultural center

Having learned a lot about Cuervo and the independence from Spain in general, it is now time to learn a bit about architecture, by going on the roof of the Garcia Marques cultural center, a beautiful building, which we learn was designed by Rogelio Salmona, a prominent Colombian architect, born in Paris.

We take some time to appreciate the building, learn more about his work, and also take shelter from the light rain that just started, as a huge cloud passed above the nearby mountains which are bordering Bogotá, and was nicely dripping us with rain.

Foundation Rogelio Salmona

Palace of justice

We then start hearing about some of the most known part of the Colombian history, at least from recent years in Europe, the drug wars and cartels.

Arriving back at the Plaza Bolivar, we stop under the protection of a porch of the court, and our guide opens the book he was carrying with him, showing us pictures, charts and other interesting information, going along with his great explanation.

We get to hear not only about the narco wars which were made famous in the past year by mainstream American movies and serials, but also about the Colombian and historical origin of this.

How was Colombia before, how this happened, the impact it had on the people, the socio economic implications, and much more.

So much information given to us, which we never heard about before, it is difficult to remember it all =)

After hearing about this long and very interesting history, up to 1985, which is my birth year, we move to the back of the courthouse building, and sit down on its marble, to hear more about narco traffic and another event, totally new to me.

The courthouse had been burned down in 1985, during what is called the Palace of Justice Siege, killing basically the whole Justice branch of the government.

The reasons and implications, are detailed to us by our guide, with lot of interesting details.

Palace of Justice Siege on Wikipedia

Carrera 7 and Gaitan

After this political stop, we keep walking along Carrera 7, the main leisure street of Bogotá.

This walking street has plenty of restaurants, shops, street sellers, and street artists.

We change the subject from the narcos, to the guerilleros, and sit under a tree of the Park Santander to hear more details about these terrorists groups, which were famous because of the FARC, but are actually more than that.

Our guide explains us how these groups were born, what was the situation in Colombia at the moment, and how was the life of the people, to help us understand how these armed groups could arise, become such a huge threat, and what they did to the country.

We then started walking again along Carrera 7, until we suddenly stopped in the middle of the street, next to a coffee.

We learned that it is the place where Jorge Gaitan, a presidential candidate, was assassinated in 1948, while he was going down his building to get lunch.

He was a beloved populist candidate, and would have most likely been elected President.

While the circumstances leading to his death are still unclear, and several theories exists, the murder in the middle of the day of these very famous to elected president in plain sight, led to what is called Bogotazo, a massive 3 days riot that resulted in 60% of Bogotá being burned down.

Jorge Gaitan on Wikipedia
Bogotazo on Wikipedia

Bread tasting

After all this history, learning about the heroes of Colombia, and discovering more about its culture and history than the simple drugs and violence which we know about from the medias, it was time to actually taste the culture with a small Bogotá food tour!

We stopped in a very small bakery, where we sat down and were quickly served a basket of bread.

We got explanations about the two types of bread we would taste: a spherical one stuffed with cheese, and another one made from manioc and stuffed with a kind of passion fruit jelly.

Cannot remind the names of these breads, but they were tasty, and very welcomed after nearly 3 hours walking in the city and listening about history in great details.

Cheap hotels Bogotá Colombia

Six hands – fruits tasting, lunch

Not far from that bread tasting area, we made our last stop, to the 6manos (six hands) restaurant, where we sat down at a table and were told we would have 10% discount.

A nice waitress quickly came to explain us the menu of the day options which costs without discount from 20000COP (6.5$ / 5.5€) to 23000COP (7.5$ / 6.5€) depending on the options, and which would be for later, after the last part of the tour.

Most of us ordered a delicious tropical juice, which we sipped while listening our guide telling us about the current political situation of Colombia.

After this last explanation, we got served a beautifully prepared assortment of Colombian fruits, including grenade, lulo, and more.

All this was very tasty, and we enjoyed sharing it.

At the end of the fruits tasting, the guide handed us over some pens and a paper survey about the tour. We gave tips for the tour while handing over the surveys – tips are optional, but the tour is definitely worth a recommended 10$ tip, if not more – after what our guide left us at the restaurant.

I ended up alone with Conor, an American guy, ordering a lunch, in which I chose another tropical juice for drink, a pesto soup for appetizer, and ribs as main dish.

We had an interesting conversation while sharing lunch, and at some point, when asking for the bill, I heard speaking French behind the counter.

It was the owner, Christophe, a French native, and we had a short talk before it was time for me too to take leave, and go back to my hotel, the Ibis Bogotá Museo, which is only at a 10minutes walk from the 6manos restaurant, which I shall visit again, as it offers great food for competitive price, but also hosts various parties.

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Best rate Ibis Bogotá Museo

Tour heroes Bogotá in summary

The Heroes Tour Bogotá is one of the most amazing things to do in Bogotá, as it does fulfil its promise to be an off the beaten path walking tour.

It did tell us a lot of about many different subjects, and, especially, told us about many famous personalities of Colombia which we never heard about.

What more, we also got to meat interesting people, learned a bit about the city, found out about Bogotá museums and places to visit in Bogotá, visited places we would not have found by ourselves, answered positively the question "is Bogotá safe?", and spent a great time.

The Heroes free walking tour Bogotá Colombia is probably really one of the top things to do in Bogotá regarding Bogotá sightseeing and tours in Bogotá, for sure it is part of the top 10 things to do in Bogotá as a tourist.

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