We flew from Miami to the Colombian capital Bogotá with budget airline Viva Colombia. We had to have proof that we would be leaving Colombia so we had a bit of a faff at Miami airport and ended up paying $10 to hold seats on a flight back from Bogotá to Miami. We had no intention of using the flight but it was enough proof of exit and we only lost the $10 deposit when we didn’t confirm the booking within the time frame. It’ll b annoying if we have to keep showing evidence of when we will leave countries, when the plan is to travel over land borders more often than not.
Bogotá is a massive city, with 7.87m people living in the city and 9.8 estimated in the Bogotá Metropolitan area.
We stayed in the La Candelaria district which is close to many of the top tourist attractions including the main square, museums and the Cerro Monserrate which can be reached by cable car. Most backpacker hostels are also in La Candelaria.
Unfortunately, La Candelaria felt a bit dodgy at night and we didn’t find many great places to go for drinks in the area. We later heard that the Zona Rosa is much better for nightlife, but pricier.
We stayed at Iku Backpackers on Calle 12f, on the edge of the grungy neighborhood. It was a decent little place and the staff were friendly and helpful. We booked a double room but they tried to stick us in a single bed! We showed that I didn’t really fit in the bed, let alone two of us, so we got a nice en-suite room for the night and moved to our proper double room with shared bathroom the next day.
Highlights of Bogota were definitely the free walking tour with Freddy from Cranky Croc hostel/The True Colombian Experience tours. He taught us about the history of Colombia, showed us some of the key areas and places of interest in Bogota, we ate arepas, drank Colombian coffee and tried chicha – a weird alcoholic drink made with fermented corn. We also played Tejo – a game that involved throwing metal weights at little gunpowder targets placed on clay. Was tricky as we were throwing from a hefty great distance. I missed but a few of the girls on the tour nailed their shots to loud BANGs.
The cable car ride up the the mountain Cerro Monsserate made for a nice few hours. The mountain dominates that part of Bogota and rises to over 3100 metres above sea level. The views of the sprawling city are awesome and there is a 17th century church up there, along with restaurants and stalls.
I didn’t take my DSLR as had read a lot about muggings around the cable car area. Sure enough, on our way back to the hostel I saw a couple of girls stood with policemen. I’d noticed one of them had a big posh camera on display at the top of the mountain and she didn’t at this later point, so she must’ve had it swiped from her neck. The Colombian’s say “never give Papaya or someone will take it all” – basically, don’t show off valuables and you’ll be fine, show them off and you are asking for trouble!
The Museo Del Oro (Gold Museum) was worth a visit; the most interesting was learning about the practices of indigenous shamans who tripped off their tits on hallucinogenic potions and thought they could transform into different animals that were considered godly – like bats and jaguars. Those that followed the way of the bat were basically like vampires, they were active during the night, slept in caves and believe they flew around the villages whilst on a trip.
On our final night we went to a bar/club/restaurant place (miles out of town) called Andrés Carnes de Res. It was well pricey and we got there too late as part of an organised ‘party bus’ from the hostel, but it was fun and looked cool. Like this:
After being paranoid of getting mugged for four nights in Bogota, the next stop was Zipaquira, home to a cathedral built in a salt mine. Random.