Bogota, Colombia is never a place I expected to end up. However, Colombia was never a place I expected to visit either! While planning the trip, my fellow traveler and I knew we wanted to visit Cartagena for the beaches, warm weather and charm – but we also knew we wanted to see more of the country. Colombia has such a unique landscape and borders the Atlantic, Pacific and of course is home to the Andes. Personally, whenever I’ve thought of Colombia I’ve thought of the mountains – so it didn’t make sense to visit the country and not at least get a glimpse of it.
To get to Bogota from Cartagena, you can either drive 9 hours through the varying landscape, or you can hop onboard an hour long flight for around $100. Guess what we chose?
With the exception of some minor turbulence and a mere panic attack by yours truly, we arrived relatively unscathed in Bogota and were easily able to meet the hired driver from our hotel in Zona Rosa without any problems. From the moment we were able to lay eyes on the city we knew we were in love!
Seriously, what an incredibly charming city! As the capital for Colombia, Bogota is the epicenter for business, universities, entrepreneurship (which surprised us) and international interest from all over the world. We didn’t know this before we arrived, but Bogota was once thought to be the ‘London’ of South America. Even now, many international investors use Bogota as their business gateway to South America due to the incredibly rich natural resources of the country and (also surprisingly) because the Spanish dialect is more easily understood then in other places in South America. Who knew?
Home to over 7 million people (and more like 12 million during working hours), the city itself is alive with its people, culture and businesses. It’s much more international than we thought it would be and we ran into once visitors turned now residents from all over the world like Germany, the United Kingdom and of course, America. The common story everyone had? “I came on vacation and I just never went back”. We immediately could understand why.
We will get into a few of the explorations we took in this great city but one of the highlights absolutely had to be visiting the top of Monserrate. Monserrate is the mountain that dominates the city center of Bogota and divides up the varying neighborhoods of the city – it is the focal point. Due to the somewhat rainy climate of the high altitude in the region, you’ll often see a rainbow between Monserrate and it’s neighboring mountain, Guadalupe Hill (both icons of the city). With that visual, it’s no wonder the original habitants and settlers thought the region itself was so blessed!
You can easily take a cable ride up to the top of the Monserrate to visit the famed church devoted to “El Senor Caido” (Fallen Lord). The ride itself up is really unique and you’ll want to get there early before lines (and the afternoon rain) set in, but it’s only about 14,000 pesos and absolutely worth it! Views from the top of this mountain are incredible and you feel like you are in a magical place. This is what South America is all about!
Give yourself at least half a day to stroll the area, soak in the breathtaking views, make a wish at the wishing well, visit the church (attend mass if you like) and even grab lunch. You will be so, so thankful you did.