Places around Bogotá: six reasons to visit Guatavita


If you haven’t been to the Guatavita lagoon or to Guatavita, the town, I’ll give you six reasons to do it. It’s an experience full of nature, delicious food and even magic that you won’t forget.

The basics:

Average temperature: 14 degrees Celsius. centigrades.

How far? Approximately 73 km from Bogotá.

How long? Approximately 1 hour 20 minutes – 1 hour 40 minutes.

How do I get there? There are three options to get to the town:  through Autopista Norte, vía La Calera (La Calera route) or Autopista Sopó (Sopo highway). The Terminal de Transporte de Bogotá (Transport Terminal of Bogota)  website can help you find the bus companies that go to Guatavita.

To the lagoon:

If you go by car: Take the Autopista Norte (north highway), and when you reach the detour of Sesquilé, go towards Guatavita. The lagoon is 8 kilometers down the road that emerges on the left after skirting the Embalse de Tominé (Tominé dam). The other option is to take a tour because it’s not easy to get there on public transportation.

Bus price to the town: COP $8,800 / USD $2,8 (approximately).

1. The delicious food:

When I went to Guatavita, I had lunch in a very typical and nice restaurant called Don Pas. There, I had one of the most traditional dishes of the town: la trucha (the trout). It was huge and I almost couldn’t finish it, but it was so good that I made an extra effort to eat it all. If you like to please your palate, you have reason to come to this town. Besides the trout, you can also have Mute, a soup with different type of meats, Cuchuco, another soup in which the main ingredient is the wheat, or lamb. There are some drinks you can also enjoy there: the corn Chicha and the Masato, which is made of corn and ibias, a kind of tuber. If you don’t know what a tuber is, think of one of the most common foods in the world (potatoes).

Places around Bogotá © Photograph by Joanna Ruiz Méndez

2. The Guatavita lagoon:

The Laguna de Guatavita (Guatavita lagoon) is a must see go in Colombia. It’s funny because it’s not located in Guatavita but in Sesquilé. There are three things I like about this experience. First of all, if you want to get to the lagoon, you have to walk a route that is surrounded by an amazing landscape. Second, the lagoon is absolutely beautiful. Three, some sources point out the Laguna de Guatavita as the place where the El Dorado myth started. Isn’t that cool? After you visit the lagoon, I recommend you visit Guatavita, the town, to have the whole experience. This is a full day plan, but you can also stay if you want to enjoy the town to the fullest.

3. You will learn about history:

The Museo Indígena (Indigenous Museum) offers information about the Pre-hispanic times and it will help you understand the history of this territory. It has two rooms: in one of them, you’ll learn about the rite around the lagoon that helped to create El Dorado myth. In the second one, there are ceramics and utensils related to the Chibcha culture. It’s worth the visit if you want to know more about Guatavita´s fascinating past!  
Places around Bogotá
© Photograph by Joanna Ruiz Méndez

4. The crafts are beautiful:

The town is known for its crafts and the artisans that offer their work at the Craft Center. Scarves, caps, gloves, sweaters… you can find a lot of traditional crochet clothing in Guatavita. They are made with acrylic yarn or with virgin wool and they are so colorful and look so comfy that you won’t probably won’t be able to resist buying something.

5. The picturesque architecture:

Guatavita has a nice vibe and that’s because of its architecture. It sets you in the colonial times and it has some details that serves as a reminder of its Pre-hispanic heritage as well. However, it wasn’t always like this. The town you will visit is often called the new Guatavita because the old one that existed from the 15th century disappeared under the water during the Sixties.
Places around Bogotá
© Photograph by Joanna Ruiz Méndez

How did it happen? In order to build the Tolimé dam for the purpose of improving the economy of the Bogotá savannah, it was necessary to flood Guatavita. That happened around the year 1967.

A new town was built and the inhabitants were relocated there. The spirit of the old town was still alive in certain details such as the white houses, clay tiles and wooden doors.

6. Outdoor activities are within easy reach:

Horseback riding, camping, ecological walks, paragliding and other outdoor activities are an option here. Some of them can be done near the embalse de Tominé (Tominé reservoir) and others on the reservoir such as windsurfing and sport fishing. You can also go to the Cerro Montecillo y Montecilla (Montecillo and Montecilla hill) and walk up to its peak to have a beautiful view of the town.

Are you ready to visit Guatavita and enjoy its nice vibe? Tell me your experience when you get back! Have you been there? Share your experience in the comments section below!

Keep visiting Colture for more information on other nice places you can visit near Bogotá!

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