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Santandercito – a day trip from Bogotá

by Alex on May.14, 2010, under Blog, What to do in Bogotá

Or a couple of days in the countryside, either way, it’s a great place to go to escape the hecticosity of the city…

The first part of the journey across town to Portal del Sur on Bogotá’s transmilenio is as quick as you might like, dedicated bus lanes avoiding the seemingly constant congestion of the capital:

transmilenio

OK, so that picture was taken on the only day sans congestion, that’s not the point…

From Portal del Sur take a green ‘alimentador’ (feeder bus) to the Terminal del Sur, the cost of the journey is included in your Transmilenio ticket, buses leave every 20 minutes and the journey takes about 4 minutes. Alternatively, it’s a 10 min walk west along the autopista. At the Terminal del Sur get a bus towards Mesitas del Colegio to Bella Vista, price 8,000 COP. It’s not long before you pass the city limits and the views start to pick up…

salto-de-tequendama-1

The Salto de Tequendama (above) is stunning to say the least. There are plenty of eateries at viewpoints opposite the falls and in fact it would not be a bad idea to get a ticket to the falls, hang there for a while soaking in the view and smells of barbecuing meats mixed with the stench of most of Bogotá’s sewerage that it seems flows over the falls, then catch another bus the twenty or so minutes on to Bella Vista.

Although only an hour out of Bogotá it feels as if it could be 5, 10, 15, whatever. Warm (18-22 degrees year-round) and with beautiful views of the mountains to east and west, Bella Vista is a one horse town with two petrol stations and half a dozen or so purveyors of food that probably exists only to service passing traffic – muy tranquillo indeed:

bella-vista

Just uphill of the Santandercito road is a great arepera that does arepas in the Boyacense style, if you’re after a snack. If you are not going to stay in Santandercito, you might want to wander the 100 or so metres down the main road to the Parque Temático Orquideas del Tequendama and continue your relaxation with some prettiness. Entrance is 7,000 COP which includes a guided tour and a tinto.

orquideas-1

If you are going to stay then walk down the Santandercito road from Bella Vista. After about 10 minutes you pass the Alto de la Palma hotel on the right hand side, it’s expensive and I’ve read some pretty dire reviews. About two minutes further on you come across a road on the left (this is the first turning since taking the Santandercito road from the highway). This road leads to Santandercito village and a few buildings down on the right hand side is Hotel El Prado run by Carlos Ortega (tel. 316 613 9972). Double rooms cost 50,000 – 60,000 COP per night. Continue down the road from the hotel to get to the village centre:

santandercito-plaza_0

The highlight of the town square is spectacular hand-made ice cream from a shop opposite the square from the church. There are a few bars and eateries and down-hill from the church is a shop/cafe run by Gustavo, a friendly Venezuelan who speaks good English. There is also a pizzeria in town.

You can usually get a bus back to Bogotá from Bella Vista, if you are visiting over a bank holiday weekend or other busy period it is worth the effort to book a bus from the office on the left hand side of the road that leaves the square opposite the church – during busy periods buses passing through Bella Vista can be full and a long wait can be had waiting to get back to town…

Click here for orchid garden pictures and here for pictures of Santandercito.

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Cerro de Monserrate

by Alex on Jan.17, 2010, under What to do in Bogotá

Viewpoint, church and restaurants in the mountains to the east of Bogotá

Access by cable car and funicular railway
Carrera 2 Este No. 21-48
(1) 284 5700

To call a landline from a mobile/cell in Colombia prefix the landline number with 03 followed by the region code. For Bogotá prefix with 031

Prices:
Mondays – Saturdays COP 14,000 until 17:30, COP 17,000 after 17:30
Sundays COP 8,000

Running times:
Funicular:
Monday – Saturday 07:45 – 23:45
Sundays and festivals 07:45 – 18:30

Cable car:
Monday – Saturday 12:00 – 00:00
Sundays 09:00 – 17:00

Take the cable car or funicular to the Cerro de Monseratte and see the spectacular views over Bogotá and/or dine at one of the two fine restaurants. The best time to go for views is a little while before sunset so as to see the city by day and by night. Not really worth the trip when cloudy…

Find the cable car and funicular on the map here

See their website here

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Bogotá Bike Tours

by Alex on Jan.16, 2010, under What to do in Bogotá

Bike hire and tours, walking tours
Carrera 3 No. 12-72
La Candelaria
312 502 0554 (cell)
(1) 281 9924 (landline)

To call a landline from a mobile/cell in Colombia prefix the landline number with 03 followed by the region code. For Bogotá prefix with 031

Bike Hire:
Full day COP 25,000
Half day COP 15,000

Tours:
Bike COP 25,000 (4-5 hours)
Walking COP 20,000

Find Bogotá Bike Tours on the map here

Visit Bogotá Bike Tours’ site here

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Ciclovía – 70 miles of car-free streets

by Alex on Jan.16, 2010, under What to do in Bogotá

07:00 – 14:00 Sunday and festivals

On Sundays and festivals over 70 miles of Bogotá’s streets are closed to traffic between the hours of 07:00 and 14:00 for the ciclovía. Now a worldwide phenonomen, it is maintained that the ciclovía originated here in Bogotá. More than just a massive network of car-free cycling, running, rollerblading and walking, there are stations throughout the ciclovía at which you can take part in free dance and and aerobics classes. It is said that between 1.5 and 2 million Bogotanos take part in the ciclovía every week.

Click here to see a short film about the ciclovía and here for a map.

Hire bikes at Bici Café.

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Free guided tours of Bogotá’s historic centre

by Alex on Jan.16, 2010, under What to do in Bogotá

Tourist Information Office
South-west corner of Plaza de Bolívar
Carrera 8 with Calle 10

Free guided tours of Bogotá’s historic centre are given by tourist police (in Spanish) at 10:00 and 14:00 daily, well worth joining in even if you don’t speak the lingo – there will often people people who can translate and if not you still get to see all the cool stuff…

Find the Plaza de Bolívar Tourist Office on the map here

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La Casa de Mondea

by Alex on Jan.13, 2010, under What to do in Bogotá

Money Museum
Calle 11 No. 4-93
La Candelaria
Free entry
Closed Tuesdays

Opening times:
Monday to Saturday 09:00 – 19:00
Sundays and festivals 10:00 – 17:00

Find La Casa de Mondea on the map here

Visit the Casa de Moneda website here

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Mercardo de Pulgas, La Candelaria

by Alex on Jan.11, 2010, under What to do in Bogotá

Flea market
Carrera 4 with Jiménez
La Candelaria

Sundays and public holidays

From old phones that probably don’t work to billiard balls. There is so much stuff here that will never, ever, get sold. A friend of mine loves this place for clothes and it’s certainly work a look

Find the mercardo de pulgas on the map here

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Museo Botero

by Alex on Jan.11, 2010, under What to do in Bogotá

Botero Museum
Calle 11 No. 4-41
La Candelaria
Entrance free
Closed Tuesdays

Opening times:
Monday – Saturday 09:00 – 19:00
Sunday and holidays 10:00 – 17:00

123 works of Fernando Botero as well as 85 of international artists including Corot, Renoir, Bonnard, Dalí, Chagall, Beckmann, Delvaux, Giacometti, Picasso, Miró, Bacon y Moore housed in a beautiful colonial building

Find El Museo Botero on the map here

Visit the Botero Museum website here

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Bolos San Francisco

by Alex on Jan.11, 2010, under What to do in Bogotá

Ten pin bowling
Avendida Jiménez No. 6-72 (opposite the Museo del Oro Transmilenio stop)
La Candelaria
(1) 342 3232 (landline)

To call a landline from a mobile/cell in Colombia prefix the landline number with 03 followed by the region code. For Bogotá prefix with 031

Shoe hire: 1,000 COP
Game per person: 3,800 COP
Beer: 2,000 COP

Bolos San Francisco is reputedly the oldest bowling alley in Latin America and it’s fully manual. A guy stands at the end of the alley, lifts his feet when you bowl and then resets the pins by hand – see the video below. You score on paper too! There is usually no need to book

Find Bolos San Francisco on the map here

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Museo Del Oro

by Alex on Jan.11, 2010, under What to do in Bogotá

Gold Museum
North-east corner of Parque Santander
Carrera 5a and Calle 16
Closed on Mondays

Opening hours and fees:
Tuesday – Saturday 09:00 – 18:00, Entry 2,800 COP
Sunday 10:00 – 17:00, Entry free
Festival days 10:00 – 17:00, Entry 2,800 COP

This is a world class museum, well worth a visit

Find El Museo Del Oro on the map here

Visit Gold Museum website here

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