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Published: October 25th 2018
Mon-Wed Oct 22-24 – Back to Bogota
Back in Bogota for 22-24 October, after arriving by Sarpa Airlines from La Macarena, around 3.00pm. The bus transported us back to the main terminal in Bogota and after saying goodbye to 4 of our fellow travellers who lived in Bogota, we hopped into a taxi and went back to the Cranky Croc Hotel.
I dived into the shower and washed some clothes. That night we had a light dinner and in bed by 9.30pm after being up at 4.00am in La Macarena for the misty sunrise!
We organised a tour for the next day with Freddy who owns the True Colombian Experience tour company. This was the La Chorrera and El Chiflón waterfalls day trip from Bogotá including 3 to 4-hour round-trip hike. (350,000 COP each – 2,200 COP = $1AUD)
Starting after a hearty breakfast of fruit and pancakes for me and eggs benedict for Tom, we drove up the eastern mountain pass with beautiful views through the East Hills, part of the Andes mountains. The clouds were very low but on occasions we saw clear sky.
Freddy was continuing to train as a more advanced tour guide and he loved the environment. As we drove to the National Park, he talked to us about various plants and the culture of the region. One such unusual plant he spoke about was Frailejon an endemic plant around Bogota. It was very slow growing and where it was growing on the hillsides indicated the presence of an underground water supply. The large single seed pot coming from the small spiky palm-like plant stood high above the base. The fronts were silver in colour.
We were driving through the mountainous Andes region in the rural area which was dotted with farmlets growing potatoes, tree tomatoes, a variety of other tropical fruits, dairy cows and small paddocks of grasses and vegetable crops. After an hour’s drive, we turned off the main road heading towards the national park, mainly on dirt roads with the occasional concrete surface on very steep pinches.
Arriving at the first check-in point, there was a fee into the national park and a compulsory video of the falls and the rules of the park. It was
good to see their care for their environment.
We then started our hike through lush woodlands. The initial steep pinch challenged us along with the altitude of 2,600m. We hiked up rocky steps and climbed down, repeating this many times. We stopped from time to time photographing the magnificent views. Several times there were massive rocks hanging over the path with mini waterfalls keeping the path muddy, but thank goodness there were the cleaner rocks to walk on. Most of the boulders on either side of the path were covered in moss and other small plants. We said hello to cows as we walked along. At one of the check points, a dog had picked us up who walked all the way to the waterfall and back, with us.
The tallest falls in Colombia, La Chorrera, located just outside Bogota, merits a high place on the list of best waterfalls in Colombia. Set on a misty Andes Mountain edge in the middle of pristine cloud forest, the falls measure 590m. With the top often shrouded in mist, as it was when we visited it, these falls have a mysterious, romantic quality. We couldn’t swim,
but we climbed down to the area below the falls away from the intense spray and noise.
On the way we came across a large group of family and school children from a rural village to the N-E of Bogota who were visiting the area for the first time. They had found a small waterfall that was cascading over a rock overhang across the path. The children were enjoying standing under the waterfall. We followed them all the way to La Chorrera.
Arriving at the falls, we stood on a massive boulder which had steel rods safety rails, with the waterfall behind us, ideal for spectacular photography. Tom didn’t walk down the final steep rocky steps but photographed us from above. Suddenly, Freddy our guide started playing his flute. It WAS magical. I thought I was back in Peru. He learnt the flute when he was living in Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru. Everyone loved it, even the locals.
Dragging ourselves away from this beautiful place, after another 30 minutes climbing up and down, we arrived at El Chiflón waterfall, a much smaller waterbody but beautiful all the same.
It didn’t take us long to navigate the same path back along the path we came out on, arriving at Chef Cuban Restaurant, owned by a friend of Freddys. He was definitely Cuban and after having Freddy translate for us, we swapped our wonderful stories of our adventures in Cuba, earlier in the year.
We were offered a mojito and of course knowing it was going to be made by a Cuban we couldn’t refuse at 1.00pm. He didn’t disappoint. After he put all the ingredience in the 3 glasses (our driver wasn’t prepared to drink alcohol), as he was mixing it he did a Cuban salsa. What a great day we were having.
We were then given one of the best lunches of our travels so far – magnificently spiced, roasted, tender chicken, black and white rice (which we hadn’t eaten since our Cuba trip), salad and herb chips. To top the whole experience off, the back drop to the restaurant patio where lunch was served was the La Chorrera waterfall and the Amazonian Andes. Spectacular!
The downside to this situation (if you could call it a downside) was that
we have a very long, steep hill to navigate back to the road. Oh well!!!
During the hour’s drive back to Bogota, it started to rain and then started to hail. The driver wasn’t worried as we found out hailstones in this area were never big enough to dent cars. Arriving back to the Cranky Croc Hotel, we started preparing for our flight to Mexico City the next day.
Just a few words about the Cranky Croc Hotel is you are coming to Bogota. In my previous blog on Bogota, I mentioned it was owned by Andy, an ex-Gold Coaster. We learned he fought to get fibreoptic cable into the hotel during the massive renovation of the very old, historic building. Hence the wifi was very fast. He also installed under-floor heating. The whole place worked very well with soundproofing between the restaurant/bar/lounge/reception areas and the accommodation. We highly recommend this accommodation.
That night, after such an excellent breakfast and lunch, we decided to have a couple of empanadas and a beer for dinner before retiring early to get up at 4.30am to catch an 8.30am flight to Mexico.
If anyone thinks Colombia isn’t worth visiting, or thinks it is still ruled by the Fark or drug lords, think again. It is safe for tourists – unless you want to break the rules of a safe country. We have been very impressed with the small amount of the country we have seen and there is a lot more to Colombia than we have seen. Again, we have been to a country that so many have told us not to go to and it is all false, particularly if you are careful travellers like us.
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