Holiday in Bogotá, Colombia : city tour, amusement park, rafting, mountain hiking

Bogota, capital and most populated city in Colombia, culminates at 2600 meters in the Andes, is mostly known for some recent drug related stories – but is definitely a great holiday destination for all kind of activities.

Arriving in Bogota

Arriving at El Dorado airport, 42nd best airport in the world, the customs clearance takes longer than in other destination, with some extra screening after baggage claim. However, about an hour after landing, getting out of the airport, and going out to look for the free shuttle bus to Radisson AR Bogota airport hotel, the first impression, arriving in December from cold and low Frankfurt, is the impression of warmth – even at night with about 12°C – and a slight headache due to the altitude.

First impression during the drive to the hotel, which will be confirmed later : they do like Christmas decorations ! It feels more Christmassy there than in Europe, with blinking lights on nearly all buildings, trees and wherever it is possible to plug some Christmas lights.

Arriving at the hotel, after getting VIP treatment due to Club Carlson Concierge status, and a nice upgrade on 19th floor (out of 20) in a junior suite, with access to the Executive lounge on the same floor, it was time to appreciate the beautiful city view from the room – most likely one of the best city view possible, see by yourself !

City tour

Going on a tour of the old town, it feels like going to the mountain. Starting in Candelaria, the historical part of the city is situated closer to the mountain heights surrounding the city, and, getting closer to this city center, it feels like the mountains are getting higher. This would allow for some beautiful pictures, but, with lot of traffic, many people on the sidewalk, and apparently some pickpockets gangs around (as advised by locals), it was better to simply enjoy the sights with our own eyes.

After some walk in the small streets, first stop for Colombian food in a small restaurant, El Sitio, for some chicken soup, very popular in Colombia, and some plancha, of course with patacon (also known as tostones), fried plantain (cooking banana) slices.

This delicious dinner break led us to more city walk, with a stop for a warm canelazo in the street, before heading to the Primada Cathedral, the National Capitol, and to see the street animations on Carrera 7.

The streets, and especially Carrera 7, are full with street sellers, of all kind of things : street food, books, cigarettes, chips, … and of street artists. As explained by a local, the reason is that no license is required to perform / sell in the streets.

Finishing with a nice walk in the decorated and animated parks of Independance and National park, one impression is left : one day is far from enough to visit even only the historical part of the city !

Amusement parc day

Next day, going to some “extreme” adventures, by visiting the Salitre Magico amusement park. With 2 adult roller coasters, and many rides, this park in the middle of the city greatest advantage is its huge Ferris wheel, which allows for beautiful panoramic view on the city – we kept it for the end, during sunset.

With relatively cheap prices compared to Western Europe, one huge distinction has to be noticed : on top of the 2€ entry fee, each single attraction needs its specific ticket, which can be bought at some specific ticket selling booths.

The trick? Staff does not speak English, and even in Spanish it was complicated to understand which ride to try, as only the rides names are available, no map or picture, and tickets have to be bought separately for each ride.

Ultimately, we had a great time on the rides, and managed to be on the top of the Ferris wheel for the grand final, the sunset over Bogota.

Rafting day

Colombia has the third affluent of the Amazon river : el Rio Negro, the black river, called that way because of… its black color, coming from humic acid. This large mountain river allow for some great activities, like rafting.

After having bought the activity in Bogota, and found a driver that would take us to the small village of Tobia, 2h drive down the mountain from Bogota, which we negotiated for 100$ go and back, the trip to this place is magical, with beautiful sights all along the way, on mountain and forest.

Arriving at the place, Rio Negro rafting camp, on time at 9am, we had to wait a bit for the other participants to arrive, chilling on their facilities, which includes lot of hammocks, camping ground, outdoor swimming pool, soccer and volley playgrounds, billiard and ping-pong tables.

The group finally formed, rafts loaded on the trucks, we could go to the activity, about 1h on the rapid waters ! Two groups were formed, one with amateurs of speed, and one for beginners and kids which went more carefully on the rapids.

A lot of fun, capsized once, but at the end, everybody arrived safe and had a great time. The organization was perfect, with 9 persons + 1 guide, each raft closely followed by one guide on a kayak.

After the rafting trip, we could chill out by the swimming pool at the premises, and had such a good time that we canceled our plans to go see some castles around to play in the pool.

Hiking day

Bogota being surrounded by higher mountains, one of the great activity to do there is to hike to one of the chapels up there, which we did to visit Monserrate.

At 3170 meters high, about 500 meters above Bogota city, Monserrate can be reached via three different ways : a hike, with 1200 steps on 2km, a funicular, and a cable car.

We chose to hike, stopping on the way for a refreshing drink, a salpicon de frutas, then to light a candle at the Monserrate chapel, a sweet melcocha candy, to finally reach the top, about two hours later, enjoying beautiful sights on the city, despite some grey clouds that day, and traditional food.

The most amazing part of this adventure : temperature was quite good, around 15°C, and we arrived sweating, only wearing t-shirts. Arriving at the top, and taking the bottle of water out of the bag, a funny surprise. Water froze inside the bottle during our hike !

Exhausted after this hike, we went down the lazy way, with the funicular.

Later that day, it was time for some shopping at the large Gran Estacion mall, at walking distance from the hotel, which has a lot of great restaurants like La Ponderosa, which serves great Bandeja paisa, a must try traditional meal. And the night could finish on a party in Baum night club.

In short

Far from preconceived ideas, Bogota is a relatively safe city to visit, with plenty of activities, in and around the city, even in mountains and on rivers.

A solid 2 weeks to fully enjoy the experience is recommended !

Bogotá, Colombian capital in the mountain

Fireworks for candles day
Fireworks for candles day
Panoramic city night view
Panoramic city night view
Admiring sunrise on mountains with champagne
Admiring sunrise on mountains with champagne
City morning view
City morning view
City morning view
City morning view

Comments

Deborah Morris, 0 days ago
Merci c'était utile
Philip Osborne, 1 days ago
Świetnie, właśnie tego szukałem, teraz jestem gotowy
April Butler, 2 days ago
Niesamowite, teraz moja kolej, by spróbować!
Leo Davis, 3 days ago
驚くべき、今私は試みる私の順番です!
Loren Hawkins, 4 days ago
위대한 이야기, 공유 주셔서 감사합니다
Jill White, 5 days ago
Harika hikaye, paylaşım için teşekkürler
Florence Maxwell, 6 days ago
ดีนั่นคือสิ่งที่ฉันกำลังมองหาตอนนี้ฉันพร้อมแล้ว

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