Connect with nature near Bogotá in Parque Natural Chicaque

Chicaque landscape

If you are looking for an excursion beyond the din of car horns in Bogotá, where you can recharge by a waterfall, eat by a crackling fire, see colorful birds perched in lush tree canopies, or take in the views like a sloth bear from a cave tucked into Eagle’s Peak, then Parque Natural Chicaque is the place for you!

With seven different trails, restaurants, creeks, zip lining and so much to see you could make your excursion a day trip or spend the whole weekend exploring.

Misty Mountain Hop: What to know before you go

When my wife and I decided to go to Parque Natural Chicaque with some friends we didn’t really know what to expect. The research we had done amounted to us reading a review that said you could see sloth bears in the cloud forest, and with that, we had made our decision. With a miniscule amount of information, we headed off to find the Care Bears home of floating clouds filled with smiling sloth bears.

Before you head off to the cloud forest know that the hike is not like Monserrate. This hike starts at the top and winds its way down, around, and across the mountains, and streams. The paths are not neat and orderly, they are steep, wild, and at times shrouded in foliage. Once you descend from the parking lot and get to the next trail map you can choose much easier hikes but remember when it’s all said and done you have to head back up the mountain to leave. For those who are too tired to hike back, you can get driven back or take a horse. Don’t forget to bring a canteen full of water, and plenty of bug spray!

So, if like Led Zeppelin you decide, “I’m packing my bags for the Misty Mountains where the spirits go now, over the hills where the spirits fly” be prepared and wear some shoes with good tread because misty mountains mean slick rocks!  

Into the Mystic

There are a lot of different trail options, many of which will lead you down easier paths. We decided to head toward Eagle’s Peak, but you could split off and see butterflies flitting through the air, or head down a flatter trek towards the waterfall. No matter which direction you choose you won’t be disappointed.

When, as Van Morrison says you have decided to, “let your soul and spirit fly into the mystic” take your time. Watch as the clouds perform their magic tricks, bringing the mountains in and out of existence. As the air ebbs and flows like the ocean tides, stand quietly while the birds; those hopeless romantics; serenade their mates. Let the smell of decaying leaves, and muddy creek banks permeate your senses. There is much that is missed by the hiker who rushes to the finish line, or those who blast their music along the way. Nature is meant to be digested. Digest it. Don’t make nature digest you.

Fog at Chicaque
© Photograph by Zachary Tamer

If along the way you find that your stomach is pining to be refueled, as mine does every half-hour, not to worry. No matter which path you take you can always find your way to the restaurant in the valley, El Refugio. Their exact menu isn’t listed on the website but as far as I can remember nothing cost more than 24,000 pesos or around $9.00USD. Arboloco, the restaurant near the parking lot is more expensive so you can use their menu as a guide.   

All the Tired Horses

When you get into the valley, and find horses with their eyes half-closed, standing in patches of light on the outskirts of the restaurant and hotel, you may think, “All the tired horses in the sun how am I supposed to get any ridin’ done?” Someone tell Bob Dylan the answer is pretty simple, just give those horses a rest. Go sit by the crackling fire, order a few of the best arepas near Bogota, some trucha, and some Club Colombia beers while the horses prepare themselves to carry more overweight tourists. After all, there are alpacas that need attention, and hammocks that will only hang listlessly until they are filled.

Fireplace in El Refugio
© Photograph by Zachary Tamer

After our meal we hiked back to the parking lot, so we could beat the Sunday traffic back into the city. The traffic heading back to the city on a Sunday or holiday can be horrendous so plan accordingly. If you decide to turn your hike into a weekend trip they have multiple options for overnight guests. You can stay in the Refugio where they have the restaurant, stay in a cabin, camp out, or sleep like the animals in one of the parks “nests”. The next time we go back we will be living like The Swiss Family Robinson in one of the nests.  

If you can’t seem to talk any of your friends into driving you to the park you can still take public transportation, and on the weekends you can even catch the Chicaque Express. Parque Natural Chicaque has so much to offer. You can be like Clint Eastwood and ride a horse into the sunset.

Wild cat at the park /cowboy
© Photograph by @ Javier Ciberalia on Flickr /© Photograph by Zachary Tamer

If you like high flying adventure you can zip line over the Magdelina valley, or rappel down from the canopy. You may even get to see a wild cat.

The next time you are walking the streets of Bogota and feel a bit, “Tookish” and you yearn to “see the great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking-stick” hit the road like a Baggins and head off to Parque Natural Chicaque for your next great adventure. Make sure to leave your comments below and let us know what you think!

To know about another similar plan read our article about Parque Natural Chingaza.

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