A month before I arrived in Bogotá I spotted a post which detailed hikes near the city. One of them was Chicaque, set in a cloud forest about 30 minutes drive from the south of the city, scroll to the bottom for more travel details. That time scale does not include the travelling time from the north of the city. And remember, Bogotá is absolutely huge! But not to do the park any disservice as it is stunning.
We set out around 6am to get to the southern part of the city Sorcha. It’s about an hour to ninety minutes on the Transmilenio. Following the instructions I’d found online we crossed the bridge and ended up in a hectic part of Soacha. I could see some local busses one block further but we realised it was the wrong place and headed back to the bridge. There are a lot of bicycletaxi there and we spotted the guy in the orange coat who would take us to the park. The busses are due to leave at 7, 8 and 9am but take that with a massive pinch of salt. He wrote down our names and said we had time to get some breakfast so we headed to a cafe that he pointed out to us.
I was worried about the time so opted for a coke and after I realised Angela was having something more substantial I opted for some scrambled eggs. One thing I do like here is that they make scrambled eggs with tomatos and spring onions. After a good 20 minutes we headed back to the bridge and were directed to a minibus. Under the bridge the smell of urine was so strong that it made our eyes water. But we were soon sitting on the mini-bus and were joined by another guy. I had read that the busses will only go when full and we waited a good 40 minutes before we were ushered into another full minibus. I noticed that some of the people from the cafe were on the bus. So there is absolutely no reason to rush. Then we were on our way.
If you take this route then the park is about a 30 minute drive out of the city. As we disembarked we paid for the journey and were asked about the return journey where we put down our names. Busses return at 3, 4 and 5 pm each weekend. There is a restaurant when you first get off the bus and you have to again give your details which are written in a book. The restaurant looks really good so if you can it’s worth trying the food. It’s also cheaper than the shop close to the park entrance.
The day at the top here was beautiful and sunny and I could see clouds coming out of the valley. We stopped at the information point where they have a model of the park, with the trails and then dreaded to the entrance to pay. It was $17000 each and once we were through there was one main path down into the valley. Initially it is paved and we saw a group of people practising yoga and soon after it turns into a dirt track.
There are signs everywhere so you can’t get lost and we decided to head towards the lake taking lots of detours along the way. There were directions to a black and red cliffs so we decided to see what the black cliffs entailed. After a short climb we ended up in a maze of rocks from which you can climb up to a look out point. When we arrived there was a lot of cloud so I held off taking photos as I had a feeling it would clear, which it did…a little.
There were around 10 people there when we arrived and after they had left we took up a seat on a rock and noticed some birds circulating. I tried to shoot them as they passed, which was challenging, and then they landed on a rock nearby. We soon realised that we might have been sitting on their target rock but they seemed happy for us to be close.
Another group of people arrived and the birds flew away. The vegetation in the park is called cloud forest and the photos below will illustrate as to why.
And the clouds did start to disperse a little so we were given a better view of the valley.
We continued following the path to the lake and took another short diversion towards the red cliffs. This led us up and along a ridge line in the clouds. It was a fun diversion and we had to climb over rocks but by the time we had reached the end of the path the lake was a lot further away then it had been at the beginning.
We decided to quit and have lunch and afterwards continued along the waterfall path. This soon led us into a clearing where there was a hotel and you could see the famous rocks.
And of course the animal pics!
It was then time to hike through the forest to the waterfall. You can approach this from two directions and the path takes you around in a bike loop. I think it’s 5km all in. We ran into a problem as we reached the waterfall, as Angela’s boots which are a little too small for her, more so after she put them through the washing machine, really started to cause her pain. The other “problem”, well it’s not really a problem, was that for the rest of the trip to get out of the park it was pretty much solely up hill. It had been downhill largely until this point. But on the plus side the sky began to clear and we reached the waterfall.
With a lot of encouragement and me doing my best not to say anything stupid-I’m an expert at that- we made it back to the hotel clearing and had a slightly better view.
Then we started heading up and out of the valley. When we were about half way we found out there was a car that would take you to the top, but really who needs a car when you have these views?
It’s a steep climb and as you can see the weather drastically ally improved towards the end of the hike-although this is fairly normal for Bogotá.
And after a hard time we reached the top, well nearly there were a few more stairs. But this time we could see across the entire valley which was huge! We grabbed a well needed coke and headed back to Bogotá on the 4pm bus.
How to get to the Chicaque Park
The park is fairly close to Bogotá and only about 30 minutes from the city. There are shuttle busses on Saturdays and Sundays, so I’d suggest you take one of these as if you use public transport then you are dropped at the main road and have to walk the extra 3 kilometres.
Each Saturday and Sunday there’s are shuttle busses that leave close to Terreros/Hospital Transmilenio station. When you arrive at the station walk to the bridge and turn right. After you cross the road the ramp to the bridge is circular and we saw a lot of bikes at the bottom waiting to give people a ride. In this area you should find someone wearing an orange coat. They can direct you to the busses which leave at 7am, 8am and 9am and costs $6000 each way per person. In reality they leave when full and they return from the park at 3pm, 4pm and 5pm dropping you off at The Transmilenio station. For more information check out the parks website.
The cost of entry to the park is $17000 per person. It is possible to camp, stay in the lodge or to stay in a treehouse all of which sound like good options. Camping was around $30000 per person.