Have some time to spare and looking for the ultimate route through Colombia’s diverse sceneries?
Here is your itinerary through Colombia’s diverse climates and landscapes from Andean highlands through lush tropics right into the vast prairies of Los Llanos, from 3000 to 300 meters above sea level, from Bogota to Yopal.
Don’t forget to pack your wool poncho, scarf, hat, gloves, rain jacket, shorts, t-shirts and ultimately a fan and cowboy hat. Almost all weather conditions are likely to occur.
But guess what! Time stands still as soon as you enter the magical foggy highlands of Boyacá, the colonial villages of Villa de Leyva, Monguí and Isa, when hiking the mystic and silent world of the 4000m high Páramo de Oceta and when standing next to Colombia’s thundering and jaw dropping second highest waterfall.
Traveling from Bogota to Yopal it’ll pay off squeezing in an extra day or two (or three or four) for spectacular highland hikes, island hopping on lofty mountain lake Laguna de Tota and visiting Colombia’s second highest waterfall Salto de Candelas…
This itinerary is your ultimate answer to why it is totally worth the drive from Bogota to Yopal – about 360km. Coaches and local buses operate.
Then drive on route 55 towards Tunja. Shortly before reaching the student city of Tunja stop at Puente de Boyacá where the independence battle over the Spaniards was decided.
Boyacá’s colonial villages: Villa de Leyva, Ráquira, Tibasosa
For more colours, pottery and crafts (and less tourists) Ráquira is a good destination and only about half an hour journey from Villa de Leyva.
From Tunja the next stop is Paipa if you are after baby soft skin. Its thermal baths are famous across Colombia. Paipa’s delicious cheese (queso de Paipa) can be found in various cheese shops along the road. Head on for some home made Feijoa ice cream, liquor or juice in the pretty town of Tibasosa.
Tip: If you are pressed for time but still want to get all the colonial village charm that Boyacá could possibly offer then head to Pueblito Boyacense near Duitama. This village replicates all of Boyacá’s colonial towns!
Páramo de Oceta and Laguna de Tota near Sogamoso
Only a stone throw from Sogamosa Laguna de Tota, Colombia’s largest lake, is embedded in a peaceful idyll of rolling hills, farms and spring onion fields. Playa Blanca is your top beach of choice and excellent for a swim on a sunny day. Camping is available.
Various cabañas (holiday homes/huts) can be rent in the area. The colonial town of Isa also has an antique guesthouse at its main square. Do no leave Laguna Tota without having tried trout for lunch. Trucha al ajillo is trout in garlic sauce and alone the memory of it will water your mouth still weeks later.
Tip: You may notice from the names Tunja, Duitama, Sogamoso, Monguí and Tota that you are crossing ancient Muisca land! Check out local museums and cathedrals for artefacts and history.
Colombia’s highlands and tropics and second highest waterfall: Salto de Candelas
After the hike grab a pack of locally sourced coffee and head on. In the tropical town of Pajaritos you must try chicken from the street vendors – it is heaven!
Tip: If traveling by public transport, ask your bus driver to drop you at the desired points of interest and then in an hour or three hail a different bus to travel on. The route between Sogamoso and Yopal is frequented by plenty of coaches and mini transporters/vans that let you off at Salto de Candelas for example. Store your luggage at the restaurant by the road for a small tip and only hike with a day backpack.
Los Llanos Orientales de Colombia
Just three hours ago you crossed sceneries that resembled the Scottish highlands, the Alps even, then you passed through lush tropics and now you are standing at the foot of the mountains glancing out into the ‘mar verde’, a green ocean of plains and horizon where rope swinging cowboys, cattle and wildlife dominate the picture. Welcome to Yopal!
With so many private farms and tucked-away natural places to explore, your best bet is to book a tour in Yopal that includes transport, horse hire, access to fincas and a guide who knows where to go. Organize yourself a tour prior to your trip to avoid feeling stranded in Yopal, an off-beat kind of place.
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