BOGOTA - VILLA DE LEYVA
Okay, yah yah, I know, this route is pretty short. You can get to "VdL" as they call it in just a few hours. However, there's so much in between that I'm recommending this route as one to get off the bus a lot, stay overnight even instead of going back to Bogota.
First, you want to stop in Chia (no, not to get Chia pets), an idyllic town on a beautiful lake with beautiful courtyards. City folk love to go to Chia for the weekends and chill. Then continue north to Zipaquira, one of my favorite towns in the whole country. The main attraction is the Salt Cathedral, a huge underground mine that has been converted into a church. But the town itself is a charmer too!
Leaving "Zip" on the way to Tunja, you should get off to visit the several important monuments at the site of the Boyaca Bridge (Puente de Boyaca), which is the decisive location where Colombia won its independence in 1819.
Tunja is the chilly and high capital of the province, a major transporation hub, and very important historically. It hosts many festivals throughout the year, so don't be too rushed to pass it by. The colonial architecture and art of the city is both unique and undervisited, so enjoy it without the tourist mobs.
Villa de Leyva is a grand attraction for many reasons. I frankly think it's become overtouristed, but the cobblestone streets and arched alleys have a way of enchanting you no matter what. The town boasts the largest colonia plaza in Colombia, large enough to hold an annual kite festival!
Around VdL is enough stuff to last you for a week! Raquira is a village famous for its colorful pottery and brightly painted houses. El Fósil is a nearly complete fossil of a chronosaur. El Infernito, is an ancient sacred indigenous site in which the grounds are studded with giant phallus statues (that's right, penises). Convento Santo Ecco Homo, is a beautiful monastery founded in 1620 in one of the most perfect climactic valleys you won't want to leave. Santuario Iguaque is a natural Sanctuary in which you can hike around several high-altitude lakes (all day trip). La Periquera is a camping site known for its 7 waterfalls in which you can take a loop trail down to each waterfall (even rappel down them if you want). Pozo Azules is another beautiful area that features three jewel blue colored lakes.
You see, aren't you tired already? And all of these points are just a few hours back to Bogota!
- On this route:
- Chia |
- Cajica |
- Zipaquira |
- El Infernito |
- Chiquinquira |
- Pozo Azules |
- Tunja |
- Laguna de Guatavita |
- Raquirá |
- Villa de Leyva!