Cerro Quininí, Bogotá

When I took the bus back to Bogotá from Pereira I was locating the mountains on maps.me and putting points in the map. After a little Googling I found some stunning photos of the park, especially the overhanging rock and amazingly Cerró Quininí was only about 2 hours outside of Bogotá and I noticed that there were trails and fatalities. After a quick google I found a blog which gave very basic details of how to get there and lots of photos of an overhanging rock, so we decided to try and see how far we could get. For direct instruction on how to arrive scroll to the bottom, otherwise stay with time for the meandering ones and the photos.

I decided that we should make it an overnight trip as a making a two hour journey outside of Bogotá and back in one day seemed unrealistic, especially as it took us 4 hours to arrive at Chicaque Park, which is just outside of the city. The trails are on maps me and the closest place is called Cumaca, which is just outside of Tibacuy. But these towns are still a good distance from the trailhead and these were the only places that booking.com was suggesting to stay. This time Google Maps came to the rescue as I noticed there were some “hotels” at the beginning of the trail and the phone numbers were on Google. So I asked Angela to call, although if your Spanish isn’t great always make sure you message numbers in WhatsApp and you can use Google Translator, and we ended up deciding to stay at Hacienda de Vuelta which worked out at $60000 for the night for both of us.

So Angela had to work on the Friday and I had to get the photos for my Colombian ID and we agreed to meet at the Tansmileno Estación near where she worked at, 1:30pm. Our aim was to get to the Terminal de Transporte Del Sur in Bogotá, which is close to Estación Bosa. For some reason we went to the end of the line and when asking about a bus were told that they didn’t leave from the station but we could flag one down on the main road. It was getting late but this stage, already gone 2:30pm and as it was a bank holiday weekend the roads were busy. Instead of working out where the correct terminal was we decided to flag one down on the road. Don’t do this! We realised we were not sure of the final destination and had to cross a three lane highway to get to the middle highway were the busses were leaving the city. We decided to cut our losses and head to the terminal.

It’s about 4-5 blocks along from Estación Bosa, you want to head to the north side of the road and turn right. You will soon see the station on your left. We arrived, soaking wet as it has started raining by this point, and couldn’t find a bus to Tibacuy. We were told the best that could be offered was a bus to the town of Fusagasugá and they could drop us on Highway Panamericana where we could pick up transport. So we took the bus, as good travellers do, and just thought let’s see how far we can get.

It was close to 3:30pm by this stage, dark and wet and se hadn’t had lunch so I stocked up on crisps, sweets and coke for the two hour journey and one of the busiest and sketchiest busses I’ve been on. The local busses are really not as fun as the long distance. We had been told to get off at the highway but I reasoned the best place to get another bus would be at the terminal. Besides I’d rather be at a terminal than standing beside a highway not really sure what I was looking for.

When we got off the bus Angela asked the driver where we could get connecting transport and we were told to get off at the highway. Don’t. As we have done the painful work for you and can explain. At the main terminal we were told that there were collectivos that went to Tibacuy but they didn’t always pull into the bus station. So the best thing was to head into town. We weren’t told where in town. So we jumped on a bus marked Centro and lots of people joined. After we seemed to reach the city centre Angela asked the bus driver who told us to get off and pointed us to walk back down the main road we had just came.

Now I somehow am quite good at cities, working out the directions busses have to travel and where they might go, so after a few minutes I sensed this was wrong. All the traffic was heading into town so at least I knew we had to cross the road. We did and were told the busses only came once and hour, so we waited on the road looking for passing busses. It was at least 5:30 by this point and starting to get dark, so I suggested heading back into town. After a few blocks where was a road where a few busses were coming out of and I thought waiting on the corner would be a good idea, so we could see busses from all directions. I was straining to find them while Angela went in search of answers. We were told the bus would pass this road so decided to wait on the corner.

Two guys came to join us and I found out they were waiting for the same bus, but then they walked off towards the town. So knowing the bus came down the road I asked in a shop where is started and was given directions but told it would pass. I don’t like waiting so figured what would be the problem if we walked up the road, it would pass. We reached a really dirty market square and I asked again and was told the bus left from the other side of the square.

We crossed the square and went down the road and just on the left was a full collectivo-which is why I say it’s best to come here rather than flag on the street. We grabbed the last two seats and were soon again on our way. It was around 6:30 pm by this stage and it’s a good hour and a half journey to the final stop. The collectivo headed back toward highway Pan Americana and then took a left towards Tibacuy. It first winds it’s way down into the valley and then back up again the other side. The road is bumpy but you get some great views during the day. The collectivo stopped in various small towns and villages until we were the last passengers. And then we were dropped at the trail head. There are a couple of food stalls and a bar so if you want to stop and rest up you can.

As it was already dark we decided to head up the trail to the hotel, drop our stuff and head back to the bar for a drink. It was much hotter, darker and longer walk than we expected. After being barked at by every dog in the village we arrived exhausted.

We were shown to our lodgings which was a building with a tonne of rooms and we were the only occupants. I managed to get some beer and water and we decided to stay and have dinner. We sunk a few more beers and then headed to bed exhausted. But the bed was one of the most comfortable I’ve ever slept on.

We awoke the next day and found ourselves in a paradise. I had asked for breakfast at 7am as the sun was still rising and there were so many animals around, including the cockerels who had kept me awake for a portion of the night I decided to photograph the animals.

There was a parrot who was singing La Cucaracha and climbing around his cage.

The four dogs who watched us eat every meal were posing in the sunlight.

Even the cockerels were on form, posing, eating grain and chasing each other around.

The place we were staying was also a coffee farm and this giant barn used to be used for drying coffee beans. Now it’s all done in a small metal container and the farm doesn’t need to employ so many staff.

This is the container in the picture below.

Just as we started breakfast the owner through some bananas on a bird table. I didn’t really think much of it until the colourful birds started appearing. I grabbed my camera and snapped away.

And then when I was excited to have seen all the birds a hummingbird fluttered by. They move stupidly fast and I was lucky I had my camera ready to go.

After breakfast we faffed around a little more. Angela found an orange growing in the garden and played on the swing outside, while I packed again and went to the bathroom.

But then we were off and it was little more than 8am. The sun was still rising giving us beautiful views and it was already hot, looking like we were going to get a great day, despite the cloud in the sky. We turned right out of the hostel and followed the path up. I don’t remember how soon it was after we left but we were very quickly joined by a four legged companion. I named her Winston, before we later realised he was a she. For some reason I assume all dogs are boys and all cats are girls, which is not how life works.

It’s not the first time we’ve been joined by a dog but it was the first time we had such an eager complaining who stayed with us until the bitter end. When we returned we saw her run back into the neighbouring property so I can only assume she waits for hikers to walk up the mountain in the morning and takes herself for a walk. She definitely had fun!

And here you can see Winston looking after Angela.

The path takes on a number of switchbacks taking you steadily higher and providing better views. You walk past a number of properties and small holdings, many of which have happy dogs, before walking through a few coffee plantations.

Then as you enter the trees the path gets really steep. There are a number of switchbacks taking you up to the top of the mountain. All in all the trail is not stupidly long, but it is steep. Winston kept running off into the trees chasing birds and I assume ghosts as I had no idea what she was after.

Sinn you get to the top where the path opens up on to a gravel road and from here is a few hundred metres to the park entrance. You soon realise why you came all this way.

Currently entrance to the park stands at $10,000. It was around 9am by the time we arrived and the park was just opening up. We paid our fee to the señoría and headed in. We were given a warning not to stand or sit on the edge of the overhanging rock, which you might have seen in the Instagram photos. There is a crack in it and they are waiting for engineers or whoever accesses cracks in rocks to determine if it’s safe. I for one decided to avoid as I don’t like the idea of dying just to get a better photo, but also I don’t want my legacy to be the cause of deaths of others in an avalanche which also resulted in destroying a local landmark. But that’s me. You guys go crazy.

It seems that there are organised tours should you be brave enough to call the number below, but I can’t fathom for the life of me why anyone would need this. We saw families with small kids in the park, so if they can do it you can!

There is one main path that leads into the park, so we followed before taking a small detour to walk along the ridge looking out over the valley. The photo below is actually the other side.

Winston was fearless and posed on any rocks she could find in order to get a better profile pic.

Angela tried to get some shots with Winston but it seems Winston is not interested in sharing her social media presence.

After walking along the ridge for a while, going down and then back up again we reached the famous rock, Cara del Indio. It took maybe an hour to reach this point, but we didn’t push ourselves. The sun looked like it was clearing the cloud and across the mountains there was a lot of haze-I can’t tell if it was pollution or not, so we decided to wait it out a little and see what happened.

Angela didn’t sit on the cracked rock.

Winston on the other hand had no such fear. And I took lots of photos of the rock.

I spotted a lizard which I’d previously chased around the Tataco Desert. I mean I don’t think it was the exact same one.

And the clouds did clear a little so I took more rock photos.

We spotted a fire on the mountain across the valley.

And then decided to head back to the entrance taking a different route. It was largely in the tree cover and we didn’t see much. There was a path that seemed to lead down into the next valley but as we needed to get back today we decided not to persue that both but instead I wanted to head up to the other cerro accessible on the ridge.

This is the one with all the mobile phone masts and there is a road leading to the top. This is free and not part of the park.

At the entrance we brought some more water and tried to give Winston a drink but it turns out that she won’t drink from the communal dog bowel and prefers mineral water.

It’s a tough little walk up the steep road to the top. I guess it took us around another hour to reach the masts.

On the way up we met some workers who were chopping back the foliage. At one point two cyclists and a maintainer worker over took us.

When we reached the end of the path we found a compound for the masts blocked the road. And looking at the map the top of the mountain was up a path to the right that we had neglected to take. One of the guys who was cycling came back out from a path that led around the side of the compound. He hadn’t found anything but Angela asked the worker if there was a mirador and he said yes. So we followed the path to the left of the compound. If you decide to do this you won’t be disappointed but just be careful as the path weaves up and down and there are some big drops next to the narrow path. But then you reach the lookout point.

And it’s all rather stunning.

And if you are lucky you might see some birds.

We rested for a time but rarely for our hikes we didn’t bring lunch as it was waiting for us back at the hostel. So we headed back. It took a good hour or more and in total I think we arrived back at the hostel around 1pm.

Winston ran away without even saying goodbye and we headed back to pack and have lunch. Minibuses go back to the main town every 20minutes. So we grabbed one and luckily on the way back you can ask to be dropped at the bus terminal. Within seconds we were on a bus to Bogotá which nearly left without me as I was buying crisps.

The bus journey is two hours back and drops you at the same main terminal where you departed. We asked to be dropped by the last Transmilenio station so we could get a head start.

How to get to Cerro Quininí Park

The main bus station in the south is called Terminal de Sur. The closest Transmileno stop is Estación Bosa. It depends on where you start in the city as to which bus to take.

When you arrive ask to get on a bus to Fusagasugá $12000, taking 2 hours. You can jump off on Highway Pan America but my advice is to go to the terminal, then get a bus to Centro and head to the main market and on Carrera 11 there is the collective to Cumaca, $8000, taking a good 90 minutes. On the way back get them to drop you at the main terminal.

There are a few small towns along the way and the collectivo go every 20 minutes from around 6am until 8pm, so if you decide to stop in one of the local towns, which seemed quite fun, you can easily get to the trail head.

We decided to stay at Hacienda de Vuelta which worked out at $90000 for the night for both of us including 3 meals each and a good few beers which is a bargain. It’s at the beginning of the trail so a good place to start the hike and beautiful.

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