Bombing it to Bogota

Trip Start Apr 14, 2010
Trip End Apr 16, 2011

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Flag of Colombia  ,
Friday, June 3, 2011

So after our failed attempt to learn to white-water kayak we moved on to another beautiful little colonial village nearer Bogota called Villa de Leyva. In actuality it was mostly re-built after an earthquake so is not quite authentic, but still, who can tell? It felt a little bit like being in Spain again, until we got chatting to the owner of the hostel who turned out to be from Islington and used to work 3 minutes away from our house.

We had heard of a long day hike up in the mountains to a beautiful lake which we wanted to do and set off happily under a blue sky with a pack lunch to have by the lake. Of course by the time we arrived at the park the sky was an ominous dark grey but by then it was too late to turn back so we set off anyway for what turned out to be a steep uphill morning's walk straight into the clouds. We had the odd glimpse of the surrounding countryside but arrived at the top in pouring rain for a very quick wet picnic by the frankly disappointing lake before we headed down.  The return journey was meant to take 3 hours but there was a bus in 2 hours time that we decided to sprint for.  We arrived at the bus stop gasping for breath and soaked through 1 hour and 55 minutes later – only to find that the bus wasn’t for another hour anyway so we’d have to wait in the rain.  On the plus side though we hadn’t realised that the walk was at altitude so our efforts would at least be helping our acclimatisation for the mountains in Ecuador, and it gave us a good excuse to indulge in some cheesecake in one of Villa de Leyva’s many amazing bakeries.

Having just about dried out we next headed on to Bogota for a brief 24 hour visit before our flight to Quito.  At first glance we weren’t enamoured with Bogota; the outskirts are mostly concrete high rises, the traffic was terrible and the cabby tried to rip us off.  Having dumped our bags though we wandered around for the afternoon and found ourselves warming to it.  The historic centre was really rather picturesque and the area we were staying in, La Candelaria, was full of twisting cobbled streets and restored colonial houses.  Most importantly given all the horror stories we’d heard we felt completely safe walking around and our biggest problem was trying to choose which flavour of ice cream to have in one of the many ice cream shops.

Bogota by night was different again and we emerged from showering at our hostel to find most of the city and what felt like a hundred Hari Krishnas having a party in the square outside our window.  The buildings of La Candelaria turned out to house tons of tiny bars and we spent a very happy evening bar-hopping between them before settling in one with some great live jazz.  Just as we sat down we heard shout 'Gor-Donn’ (that’s Gordon in Australian in case it’s not obvious) and looked up to see H, who we’d climbed Roraima with and was also in town for the night.  All in all a very enjoyable if brief time in Bogota.
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Marion on

You skipped Cartagena then? Que pena! A very good reason to go back with all the air miles you'll have accumulated. Looking forward to seeing you both in less than a month!! xx

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