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Chingaza: the kingdom of the Andean bear is close to Bogotá

Chingaza Páramo
Joanna Ruiz

Joanna Ruiz

Journalist and migrant. I have a huge passion for writing and telling stories. I live in Bogotá since 2014. Instagram: joa_ruiz / Blog: leaquealgoqueda.blogspot.com

If you want to breathe the purest air, photograph deer, and learn the importance of the páramo for Bogotá, you have to go to Chingaza Natural National Park. If you’re lucky enough, you might meet the most popular guy in the area: the Andean bear.

The purest air, joyful deer, and stunning páramo landscapes can all be found an hour and a half or so from Bogotá. Where exactly? At the Chingaza Natural National Park. If you are thinking of a full day plan to connect with nature or you want to add some ideas to your “Things to do near Bogotá” list, I truly recommend this visit to you.

Here are four reasons why you should book a getaway to this place as soon as you finish this article.

The landscapes

When visiting the páramo zone, you feel like you are embraced by the mountains. The flora is rich and diverse, the color of every landscape varies depending on the light and rain, and the immenseness and beauty of the place really grounds you. It happens especially at the Alto de la Mina de Palacio, one of the highest points in the park.

Alto de la Mina de Palacio
© Photograph by Joanna Ruiz – Alto de la Mina de Palacio

Alto de la Mina de Palacio © Photograph by Joanna Ruiz Méndez 

The animals

Don’t you like to see cute animal videos? At Chingaza, you can watch them live and in person. The most common ones to find are the playful deer that graze and frolic through the páramo. Different kind of birds can be seen as well.

Deers in Chingaza
© Photograph by Joanna Ruiz Méndez

If you are lucky enough, you could meet the most popular guy in this zone: the imposing Andean bear. Like many other species, this wonderful animal is endangered; one of the reasons Chingaza is a Natural National Park is to protect it.

Andean Bear
© Photograph by Giovanny Pulido – Minga Expeditions.

Even if you don’t get to see the Andean bear, you might sense its presence or stumble upon some of its footprints

Even if you don’t get to see the Andean bear, you might sense its presence or stumble upon some of its footprints
© Photograph by Joanna Ruiz Méndez

The peace

You probably love Bogotá, but that doesn’t mean you won’t want to escape from its fast pace sometimes; which is normal for everyone who is accustomed to big cities. At Chingaza, you will find peace. Its silence and the breeze that sways every plant and every flower will reconnect you with your inner self. It’s a relaxing experience in more than one sense of the word. It calms not just your brain, but your soul.

The water

An important part of the water we get in Bogotá comes from Chingaza. It’s an interesting fact even when you don’t see it, but when you are there and realize how important this place is for our daily life, you get to appreciate it even more.

Maintaining responsible consumption of the water is one way to take care of Chingaza. Since I went there, I can’t avoid thinking of this place every time I open the tap or take a shower. Every experience that makes us more aware about our environment is sure a great experience, right?

Embalse de Chuza (Chuza Dam)
© Photograph by Joanna Ruiz Méndez – Embalse de Chuza (Chuza Dam)

Embalse de Chuza (Chuza Dam) © Photograph by Joanna Ruiz Méndez 

How to get there:

There is no public transportation to the park. If you want to go by yourself, you must do it in a private car. You can get there from Bogotá through La Calera.

Where is Chingaza?
© Google Maps

© Google Maps

Basic information:

  1. If you want to go by yourself, you have to do an entrance request 15 days in advance before going to the park. You should write an email to [email protected]  or call 3532400 ext. 3011 and 3012. You can also go the office (Calle 74 # 11-81) in Bogotá.
  2. If you want to stay at the hostel in Chingaza or go camping (or take food or use tour guide services), please communicate with Corpochingaza, the community ecotourism corporation of the park (cell phone number: 3508044199).
  3. I went with Minga Expeditions on its #DíaDeVenados (#DayOfDeer) tour. They take care of everything (transportation, food, park entrance, tour guides, etc.). Their approach to the place is based on respect and care. I loved the experience and truly recommend it!

What to bring?

It’s important to wear warm and comfortable clothes. If you have trekking boots, that would be best, although a good pairs of sneakers will work too. The altitude can affect certain people, so Minga Expedition recommends to have some snacks, such as chocolate or cereal (I took fruits, water, and sports drinks in my bag). It might be rainy, so a raincoat might be helpful as well. Sunscreen is also vital!

In any case, the best tip I can give you for your visit is the following: do not leave any kind of trash at the park! Take everything with you when you leave and throw it away in your trash can when you get back to Bogotá.

Are you excited about Chingaza? Let me know if you decided to go after reading this article (it would make me really happy)! Have you already been there? Please tell me about your experience in the comments section below!

Keep visiting Colture for more information on other spectacular places to visit near to Bogotá such as Chicaque Natural Park!

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