Enjoy the Stunning Tranquil Views Hiking Around Pionono Park, Bogotá

Located just 45 minutes north of Bogotá, Pionono Park is a peaceful mountain paradise located above the small town of Sopó, which is home to Colombia’s favourite dairy, Alpina. After hiking up to the park, or taking transport to the entrance, you will experience the beautiful panoramic views of Guatavita on one side and the Valle de Sopó on the other. You can relax in The Cabana Alpina enjoying freshly prepared deserts and sweet treats as a reward. The park itself is not too large, which makes it perfect for all abilities, and it will be a welcome relief for those who, like us, decided to walk up the steep road from the town.

Once inside the park you can easily walk around the park in a few hours, which makes this the perfect day trip. Camping is available if you decide to extend your stay and it makes a great place to bring children as the camping and park are all self contained. The park itself is one of the less frequented places so you might well have the park to yourself as we did, and its definitely one of those off the beaten track, which makes it all the more special.

If you are looking for other enjoyable hikes a little out of town then you can read about my hike along the train tracks in Suesca or have a weekend away hiking up to Cerro Quininí, take the famous Instagram shot and relax in one of the small green mountain towns knocking back beers with the locals afterwards.

Information

  1. Our Experience
  2. How to arrive at Pionono Park
  3. Equipment to take

Our Experience

I came across Pionono park as I had been trying to research for more information about Chingaza, which I have not managed to visit. Pionono sounded fun, challenging, was off the beaten track and more important easy to reach so I slotted it into the hiking schedule straight away.

The bus to Sopó, the town that sits below park, leaves from the north of Bogotá. We were told to head to Portal Norte which is not too far from our home and opted to leave a little later than usual. We took one of the local busses to the Transmilenio station and as soon as we became stuck in traffic I realised our mistake. It was here that I vowed to just take Ubers to the main bus terminals as the speed and extra cost, which is not huge, far outweighed the amount of time spend on busses crossing Bogotá.

There are now two main terminals in the north of the city and it seems that over the past couple of years the busses have been moving form Portal Note to the North Terminal, which we found out on arrival. The North Terminal is another 10 blocks north, so its not too far if you do end up at the wrong terminal. Angela wanted to walk the extra distance but as we walked past a Bicycle Taxi I suggested that we jump on board, I’m not sure the rider quite knew what he was in for with our extra weight. We joined another lady and the three of us were in for a fun and scary ride. Our rider did well and for $2000 each we were soon at the North Terminal. After scouting for busses in the main terminal we were told to go to the far side. From the main entrance go to the far right and you will see a sign for Sopó. Follow this path around the bus terminal and then there are three lines you can join. We were not waiting long before a bus pulled up and we were soon given cards to tap in and out, which was exciting as it reminded me of an Oyster card.

This bus didn’t have the man (yeah always seems to be a man) who collects the ticket money. In the UK we would call them a conductor but in Spanish a Conducer drives the bus and apparently this guy doesn’t have a job title. I’m really curious to find out how they advertise the jobs and establish the pay grade but I’m in Colombia so I don’t question these kind of things.

Sopó is a 45 minute trip north of Bogotá when you are on the bus. I tapped us both out when we reached the main plaza and the journey was $4700 each which is the cheapest so far. Ask the bus driver to drop you off along Carrera 4, otherwise it will head to the terminal the other side of town, and head to the main Plaza. Although I was following another blog I still wasn’t exactly sure where to go so we decided to stop and have a quick breakfast of scrambled eggs, juice, hot chocolate and pan which came to $11000 before speaking to the tourist information which is also on the main plaza. They thought we were crazy to walk but I had read the walk to the park was harder than the hike in the park and that was why we had come. To walk up a very steep hill. 5km up a very steep hill. I laughed when I was told it would take two hours to make the climb but right from the beginning there is a steep up. There isn’t really any respite until you reach the top so just bare that in mind if you are not the best at hiking. The hike again is along a road and cars do pass, as well as some crazy cyclists. Colombians are taking their cycling seriously after winning the Tour de France. But soon you get to see beautiful views.

The town is actually really pretty and if you don’t fancy the hike you can take taxis to the park and I could see myself spending a lazy Sunday afternoon hanging around, drinking cervezas.

There are lots of helpful signs along the route to keep you on track but more importantly to remind you how little progress you have made.

But still there are lots of views of the mountains.

We were soon overtaken by a fat panting dog. Not really something to keep your ego up. But also on that corner a moped with a passenger ground to a halt due to the steepness. The passenger jumped off and started running up the road, also overtaking us, while the rider waited for the engine to cool down, caught up with her and they continued. I suppose if you live up here you get pretty fit.

And more shots of farms and houses across the valley.

Around half way we made a friend, Martin, as I named him, and he kept us going. The three men in the distance also over took us and they carried some well worked on beer bellies. However Martin kept positive. He would race ahead and wait, pacing indicating that we should try and catch-up. Or on occasions he would run back to see why progress had stopped or slowed.

There were a fair few dogs en-route, many of whom did not take kindly to Martin. But they were cute none the less. Its a very steep punishing road that seems to go up and up and up. It all feels like it rolls into one but there are impressive views and it winds its way around wonderful houses. I highly recommend taking the challenge. Especially if you are a fan of dogs.

And then we reached the top of the ridge which meant we could see Embalse de Tomine on the other side. We had been closer to this lake on the Lake Guatavita hike. The clouds by this point had become vary dark and tried to rain on us but luck prevented them. I can only imagine this view on a clear day.

Sadly for Martin dogs are not permitted in the park so we ditched him at the gates while he was sniffing around. The people at the gate were asking whose dog he was and I don’t really know how to explain that “he’s not my dog”. After all this struggle I felt a pang of guilt leaving him but I knew the real reason he had followed us all this way was due to the tasty smells coming from my backpack. We never saw him again and Angela made me feel suitably great about this as to be fair I had thrown poor Martin under a bus but completly ignoring him at the gates. Hikers should always stick together.

Entrance to the park is $5500, which is great, and if you want to camp then it’s $27600 per person, which feels like a lot. in comparison. I’d suggest this is better served as a day trip as really most of the hiking is done on the way to the park.

We entered and headed down the trails to the first mirador.

It took around 20 minutes to reach the first mirador. We had passed the camp ground and BBQ section on the way. Today it was completly empty and there were not many people around. When we arrived we were able to see across the whole valley. The clouds has boxed in the sky but we had a slither of blue to help brighten up the horizon. The path that led further up to the cerro had been blocked off and I had read on another blog that is was no longer accessible. There was another path leading down into the bushes. We head voices and laughter coming from this direction but it didn’t feel like a park sanctioned path so we sat and ate our lunch while enjoying the view.

There are a few hiking trails in the park and we covered the circuits as shown on maps.me. They are not stupidly long so after a few hours we decided to head back to the town. This time it would be a very steep down, which presents a different set of problems. This time the views of the lake were punctured with a spot of blue which gave them an air of beauty.

Typically as we started heading down the sun decided to come out and clear the sky, although to be fair this seems to happen a lot around Bogotá around 3-4pm. Which is slightly annoying as it gets dark around 6:30pm each day so it doesn’t give you a lot of time.

The valley was beautiful in the sun and I was excited to see the views.

When we finally returned to town we stopped for a well earned rest, brought some cokes and then headed to the dairy, La Cabaña Alpina, which is on the edge of town, to buy some strawberries and cream. It’s worth a little visit, if only to see the amazing amount of plastic everything is covered in. But there are so many dairy products to buy. It’s literally a shop full of dairy products. It’s located near the roundabout where you entered the town adjacent to the main road. From here you can chill out for a while or wait at the bus stop on the main road for a bus back to Bogotá. The price is the same at $4700 and you can either be dropped off on the main road or go back to the terminal.

How to arrive at Pionono Park

The destination town is Sopó which is about 45 minutes north of the city. The bus leaves from Terminal Norte and you can get there by either taking a Transmilenio all the way to the terminal or taking a taxi/uber. With the amount of time the busses take to cross the city I would recommend the second option.

Once there don’t head into the terminal building. Instead from the main entrance look to the far right and you will see a path that takes you around where all the busses pull up at their various stations. It’s almost like there is a second parking lot behind the first and you will see several different lines for different busses. Make sure you get on the bus to Sopó which will cost you $4700 each way.

Once you arrive in Sopó jump out on Carrera 4 and head to the main plaza. There is a tourist information point here which can point you in the right direction. Otherwise head directly to Carrera 3 and just follow the road up the hill. You will soon see signs for the park as it’s well signposted.

Currently entrance to the park is $5500 per person and camping is $27600.

To return to Bogotá follow the same road back to the plaza and flag down a bus on the main road that leads to the roundabout. Its just the other side of the dairy. They will have a Bogotá sign in the front.

For more information do check out the parks website.

Equipment to take

There is no food or water available in the park or on the walk up after you leave the town itself so I would recommend stocking up for the day. Full on hiking clothing is not necessary as you will be on trails and roads but I’d always recommend the following:

  1. Gortex hiking boots
  2. Waterproof jacket
  3. Waterproof trousers
  4. Dry bag or backpack cover (I take both)
  5. Cell phone
  6. Cell phone battery
  7. Charger cable
  8. Sunglasses
  9. Sun Cream
  10. Painkillers
  11. Blister plasters (better if you have a small first aid kit)
  12. Hand soap
  13. Tissues
  14. Water filer
  15. Sun hat
  16. Food – you can never have too much and you will need it on this hike so pack appropriately.
  17. Water 2 litre minimum

Clothes

The hike is not high altitude and the sun was pretty warm on the hike. It did nearly nearly start raining at one point so do be prepaired.

  1. Base layer
  2. Fleece
  3. Hiking trousers
  4. Hiking underwear
  5. Hiking socks

If you are looking for other enjoyable hikes a little out of town then you can read about my hike along the train tracks in Suesca or have a weekend away hiking up to Cerro Quininí, take the famous Instagram shot and relax in one of the small green mountain towns knocking back beers with the locals afterwards.

4 thoughts on “Enjoy the Stunning Tranquil Views Hiking Around Pionono Park, Bogotá

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