5 BOGOTÁ, COLOMBIA, NEARBY PLACES TO VISIT:

5 NEARBY TO BOGOTÁ MUST SEE PLACES



This are the Top Colombia Tips, for nearby places to Bogotá that you should go to enjoy, and make the most of the travel to the capital of Colombia.

Bogotá is a great city to be in; besides the attractions like the Gold Museum, the ascend to Monserrate, the wonderful gastronomy and restaurants, and the old colonial neighborhood of La Candelaria, there are some amazing places nearby the city that should be visited, if you want to have a more complete look and understanding of  the capital of Colombia.

You can know about the legend of El Dorado, be in a church built into the depths of a salt mountain and go from cold to hot temperature in just a few hours. All of that, and more, are part of your trip to Bogotá, Colombia.

·      THE SALT CATHEDRAL:

The indigenous people that inhabited the region where Bogotá was funded, were very wealthy because of a salt mountain located in the nearby town of Zipaquirá. In those times, salt was as valuable as precious metals or gems, because of the properties that this mineral has to preserve meat and like today for the cooking of various foods.
In Zipaquirá exists the biggest gem salt mine that has been discovered in earth till today.

The Muiscas represented in these lands by the tribe of the Chibchas, started mining the mountain since the 5th century. Therefore, many tribes from all around what is today the territory of Colombia, came to this lands up in the mountains to change gold, gems and food for the needed salt.

This made the Chibchas a very rich and powerful tribe, and the chief of the region known as El Zipa, an important governor with many warriors to his service so he could protect his lands.

The salt that was extracted from the mountain, was called “La Agradecida” (The thankful) because it went from out of the mountain as a black stone and by the effects of the air and the contact with the atmosphere it transformed into a bigger white chunk that was the salt itself.

Inside the mine they had ceremonies in honor of their Gods.
When the Spanish conquistadores took possession of the salt mountain the religiousness changed to Christianity, but the altars remained. In 1954 a Cathedral was made inside of the mine in honor to the Virgin of the Holy Mother of the Rosary, and since then it has been, not only a religious but also a touristic attraction to be visited.



In 1991 the Salt Cathedral had to be closed because of security issues, but by then another Cathedral was being built one level up in the mountain from the primary site. Now it had all the reinforcements and engineering to receive the pilgrims and the tourists from all around the world.

It was open in 1995 and since then it is an attraction worth the visit.
There you can go inside the mountain and breathe the healthy salty oxygen and see magnificent works of Christian art figures made in marble and obviously in salt rock. In the center of it, a magnificent central hall with an immense Cross at the end of it, gives reverence to Jesus and to God.

The lights are carefully set, so the wonder of the huge works of art can be seen by the visitors.



There is a salt museum and you can delight yourself with potatoes made in the salted hot waters of the mountain, a kind of potato you will only have in this place on earth.

You can go to Zipaquirá by car, bus or by train in a very colorful journey that will take you in a vapor train from Bogotá, back and forth, you can get the tickets and all the information of the tren de la Sabana at  http://www.turistren.com.co/

·      GUATAVITA LAGOON:

The Spanish conquistadores were moved to conquer these lands for the purpose of greed. They wanted gold, precious metals and gems like the emeralds.

The most important and relevant legend was the myth of El Dorado. Spanish were told by the indigenous tribes in the low lands that up in the mountains there was a city made of gold where the chief of the tribe had a ceremony with an offering of huge amounts of gold and gems to the Gods that lived into the waters of a lagoon.



Therefore many expeditions were set to find the legendary city of El Dorado.

When they arrived to these lands up in the mountains, where Bogotá is based, they found many indigenous towns with gold artifacts hanging in the shacks and the man, women and child used gold jewelry. They were amazed and glittered by the gold they saw in the everyday life of the tribe of the Chibchas.

They believed they were going to find El Dorado nearby, and kept looking for the gold city all around.

What they found was a very rich land with very good temperature and not as insane as the lowlands where many diseases were prone to be had. The hunt was abundant and there were fishes in the rivers and plenty of water, also there were produce like potatoes, corn, herbs, fruits and vegetables.

The Chibchas had an important trade circuit with many tribes from all around and received gold, emeralds and produce in exchange for the salt that only they had to offer.

Because of the salt they were a very rich tribe.

The Spanish conquistadores decided to found the capital of the Viceroyalty up here, against all odds, maybe thinking they would someday find the mythic city of El Dorado. Back then, it was faster to go back and forth to Madrid from Cartagena de Indias that from the Caribbean port to Santafé de Bogotá or back.

The legend was almost forgotten because there was no real evidence to prove that it really existed.

Till one morning in 1969 when a peasant from a town called Pasca found into a cave a ceramic vase that had in the interior a gold artifact, he took it to the priest of the small town who then called the experts from the Banco de la República who bought immediately the object; it was a gold raft with a Cacique (Chief of the tribe) with his guards ready to deliver the treasures to the God of the lagoon.



The legend, was then partially proved, there was a ceremony where the Chibchas offered treasures to their Gods.

The lagoon is the Laguna de Guatavita, a beautiful mirror of water that is nearby to the towns of Guatavita and Pasca, there is a walking path to climb to the lagoon where it all happened. Some attempts to drain the waters to see if there is something at the bottom have been made, but mysteriously it could never be drained. In addition some scuba divers have submerged to search the lagoon but no results have come back to surface.

If you don’t feel like walking in the high altitude of the region (2700 meters ASL, 8858 FT ASL) you can still go to Guatavita, a picturesque town that was built in the latter part of the 1960s before the golden raft was found. The original town was flooded to make way for an artificial lagoon that serves the Bogotá and regional aqueduct.  It is a wonderful journey where you will go by the surroundings of the city in an incredible scenery full of nature, history and legend.

Remember that El Dorado is yet to be discovered, very near to Bogotá.

You can get there by car or by bus. There are also many tours available.

·       GIRARDOT:

In Colombia there are no seasons, as the people on the north or south hemisphere know. The country is located in the equatorial zone, between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, therefore it has what is called tropical weather. 

We have no winter, spring, summer or autumn, we only have dry or rainy seasons.

The temperature goes down if you climb, or up if you go down.
In other words, if you are at sea level, like in Cartagena, the temperature can be around an average of 30° Celsius or 86° Fahrenheit; in Bogotá the average is 14° Celsius or 57° Fahrenheit.
This is all year round, so if you come to Colombia bring clothing for cold, medium and hot temperatures.



And in the vicinity of Bogotá you can change climate in just an hour or so. As soon as you hit the road and start going down the mountains you are going to be feeling how the climate will gradually change, also the vegetation and the way that people lives, eats  and behaves. It is an adventure for tourists that never have been in a situation like this, and this sensation can be lived if you go to Girardot, Cundinamarca, only 2 hours away from Bogotá. The temperature here can be hot, like summer.

This zone is where the inhabitants of Bogotá, the bogotanos, use to go when they want to change climate, to go to a pool have a tan and relax very near to the city. It has been this way since many years ago when the train and the roads made it possible. At Girardot there are many nice hotels and the food is quite delicious, you should taste the lechona and the tamal, they are good.

The Magdalena river, one of the biggest of the Americas, crosses in front of this port city and it is quite a view to see the yellow waters make their way to the Caribbean sea. It is a nice scape from the urban life of Bogotá and you will be able to see some beautiful landscapes that will make you love my country.

You can go to Girardot by car or by bus that can be taken at the central or south Terminal de Transportes.

·       CHINGAZA NATIONAL NATURAL PARK:

The Chingaza National Natural Park is an adventure where visitors will be able to see the nature of the Andes Mountains at its max.
Be prepared to see eyeglasses bears (Andean bear), Condors, deers, hummingbirds, many bird species, a huge quantity of animal life that will amaze you. The temperature average is of 8° Celsius or 46° Fahrenheit.

The vegetation is surprising as there are plants that only grow in this kind of exclusive ecosystems, like the fraylejones, a unique plant that only grows in the paramos (moors).



Entrance is only authorized at the National Parks Authority Office, and tourists should not go without a guide as it is possible to get lost in the immensity of the park.

This place is one of the biggest reserves of fresh water in the planet, and it supplies to the Bogotá aqueduct more than 50% of the water that is consumed daily in the city and its surroundings.

It is a pristine and unique place on earth where the greatness of nature and the contact with mother earth is the essence of this travel experience.

To go to Chingaza it must be in 4 wheel drive SUVs, jeeps or trucks. Tourists will be asked to respect the nature and behave accordingly.

·       VILLAVICENCIO:

Very near to Bogotá, less than 2 hours by road, is Villavicencio, the door to the Llanos Orientales, the eastern plains of Colombia. This is an extended plain that is shared between Colombia and Venezuela, some people compare it with a sea but of green color, and it is the main supplier of meat and agricultural products of the country.

The richness of this land is absolutely incredible. The nature is astonishing and there is such a variety of flora and fauna that any tourist will think is on the Eden.



Here tourist can have vacations like a cowboy or just relax by a riverside enjoying the sound of llanero music that is played with harp, cuatro (4 strings kind of guitar) and maracas (handheld percussion), and the singers tell stories of life in the llanos where the sunsets compete in beauty with the sunrises.

Amazing nature in a hot and humid place on earth that will make a vacation a memorable one forever in life.

So there you have some of the Top Colombia Tips for places near to Bogotá you should go on your trip to the capital of Colombia.

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Journalist.
Néstor Meléndez Soler
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BICIVAN:
Turismo de aventura en Kayak por Colombia.

Son la agencia operadora pionera en turismo de aventura en kayak por el Pacífico Colombiano y los ríos del país.
Julio y Lina, son una pareja de emprendedores que ofrecen su pasión personal por la naturaleza, y por una nueva tendencia mundial de la navegación en cualquier cuerpo de agua, el Kayaquismo.
Tienen la misión de conectar a los turistas con el mar, los ríos, las comunidades, la gastronomía y las sensaciones que produce estar en lugares de ensueño natural.
Salir con ellos de tour es ir a conocer Colombia con la mirada y las emociones, que solo ofrece el turismo de aventura; una categoría que invita al turista a conectarse con la naturaleza, y la vida diaria de las comunidades en sus hogares y lugares de vida, con su música y su gastronomía, su folclor y su cultura. Hay planes con noches en cabañas nativas frente al inmenso mar Pacífico, o a las orillas del Río Arauca en campamentos de camping montados con rigurosidad de campistas profesionales, o en hamacas con toldillos viendo el techo con millones de estrellas a orillas del Arauca vibrador, con muchas comodidades para estar entre la naturaleza. Bicivan es experta en el tema y a sus dueños que viajan en el tour les emociona atender bien a sus aventureros, porque lo que desean es hacer de los turistas, amigos, que siempre vuelvan a tomar sus tours y a vivir nuevas experiencias.
Bicivan ofrece diferentes destinos exóticos y de aventura en Colombia dependiendo de la temporada. Avistamiento de ballenas jorobadas, adentrarse en la selva, navegar en Kayak por mar y por río. Los viajeros podrán conocer lugares como el Istmo de Pichidó, a donde se llega de manera multimodal, ya que se viaja por carretera en vehículo 4x4, se navega en canoas, se camina y se nada.
Todo eso enmarcado en la exuberancia de la selva y la costa del Pacifico Colombiano, con su esencia cultural indígena y afrocolombiana.
También podrá navegar entre ríos y selva, en otra de las excursiones de aventura que ofrece Bicivan.
Qué tal conocer el Río Orinoco uno de los más tormentosos de América, con sus paisajes de llanura eterna.
O ir a ver ballenas, navegar el mar, caminar la selva, bañarse en el río, cruzar una cascada, avistar aves, ver estrellas, atardeceres, amaneceres, no escuchar sonidos de ciudad sino de eternidad.
Si desea conocer más acerca de los planes de aventura de Bicivan encuentrelos en Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/BicivanColombia/
Emita su descuento para los tours de Bicivan y disfrute de más historias de viajes y aventura en Colombia, suscríbete aquí:

También puede conocer más de Colombia con los tours autoguíados por GPS para su Smartphone en mi authors profile
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Mi nombre es Néstor Meléndez Soler recordándote que viajar, te hace ser una mejor persona.












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