The most touristy trip up to the mountains in Bogotá is without doubt Cerró de Monserrate, with it’s beautiful church. You can hike at certain times of the day or take the cable car or train, depending on which one is operating at the time. And it’s easy to see why as it provides beautiful panoramic views of the city and is the perfect place to watch the sunset on the right day, at this time take the transport up. From here you will notice that you can see another white church and a giant statue of the virgin. This is Cerró de Guadalupe and offers even more spectacular views of the city and is for those who want to avoid the crowds and who want more adventure as the route is slight more tricky.
I’m going to talk through both in this post, covering the photos first and the how to get there will be at the bottom so skip down if you don’t want to see the photos.
Cerró de Monserrate
Even before I had arrived back in Bogotá I was telling Angela that the first thing I wanted to do was get up to Monserrate. She mentioned it when we were wondering around downtown on the day we first met and seemed to think the climb up would be a challenge. I was desperate to show off and show how easy it was, it would have been at the time as I was used to hanging out on mountains about 5000 metres in altitude but my months in London had left me unfit, unacclimatised the altitude and in my own words fat, I’d eaten a lot of junk food. I can’t help it. Angela, however, has her doubts as to where I could make it up and in the end she was right.
After a night flight, landing at 4am, worrying about being let in and the stress of arriving all I wanted to do was eat and sleep. Bogota is around 2600 metres, which was nothing to me last year, yeah I was cocky, but after being at sea level it was a challenge. So instead we opted to go the following Saturday.
If you’ve read my other Bogotá Posts you will know that the weather has not always been on my side. There are sunny days in Bogotá, which is notorious for being cloudy, but the never appear on the days I want to hike, and this day was the worst. We woke up to a grey sky but headed down to Parque de Los Periodis on the Transmillenio and from there walked up the the trail head, located near the Teleférico on Carrera 1.
There has been lots of information about the path not being safe and mugging but I think like lots of places in South America, especially where tourists are concerned things are getting safer. We hiked on a Saturday morning and there was a police presence. The path is open from 6am-4pm but you shouldn’t start after 1pm. I would advise going early.
By the time we arrived it had a started raining and as we went higher we ended up in a cloud. The higher we went the more dense it became and the views from the top were grey. The climb is around 2km in total and although there are lots of people panting and taking there time there should be no reason why you can’t reach the top even if you are unfit. There are places on the route to buy drinks, use the bathroom and rest. It’s steep in places but unless you have a serious knee problem, I think you will be fine. Take your time, rest and enjoy the view. And if you are for it will be a breeze. I found it a little tough that day as I hadn’t acclimated properly yet. We found a small cafe and had some snacks before heading down in the train. There is a market here and a bunch of eateries I would probably avoid on the other side of the market but it’s a perfect place to spend a few hours and enjoy the view…assuming there is one!
I decided not to create a post at the time as all my photos were just grey. So instead I decided to go back one day when the weather was better, and besides you can always take the teleféricos. So one evening when the clouds were looking good we headed back around 4pm and this time straight to the teleferico. It’s not cheap, by Colombian standards and is $21000 return. But it’s a great experience and the perfect time to watch the sun set over the city.
We opted for the teleférico as had taken the train the last time and you get a panoramic view of the city as you ascend. Assuming it’s not too crowded. There are two cars which ascend and descend at the same time.
As soon as you exit at the top you are greeted with a view of the Church. You can go in and look but this time there was a service taking place and we were presented with much more distracting views.
Bogota just stretches out in front of you and actually this is just the south of the city. You can’t see a lot of the north from here as the view is blocked by the mountains.
This is the view of the Church on Cerro de Guadalupe, which I will explain how to reach below.
If you walk past the Church you will come across a market that sells everything a tourist could possibly want. Walk into the market and out the other side and you will find a lot of restaurants. Angela didn’t trust them as it was late and they all had a lot of food out. Angela asked me what I thought they were going to do with the left over food. The answer was, cook it tomorrow. And we had no idea if they had cooked it the day before.
If you walk past the restaurants then you will come out on a side of the hill that gringos don’t normally find. I have been told that it is possible to buy chicha here (at your own risk) but sadly on this day the seller was nowhere to be found. What you can find are more stunning views of the surrounding mountains and the city.
We headed back to the main spot to watch the sunset and it was beautiful through the clouds. Also it started to get really cold. Bogota is not the warmest place on earth at the best of times especially at night, but its much colder up on the hills so make sure you dress appropriately.
I couldn’t resist getting some closeups of the clouds.
After taking a lot of shots of the city it became too dark for my camera. We waited until the sun had set and the city lights had turned on before we headed back down via the Teleferico.
How to get to Cerro de Monseratte
There are three options you can take depending on the time you want to visit. You can hike the 2km path up (not as hard as it sounds) or take the Teleferico or Funciular.
If you are in Downtown you can just walk up to where Carrera 1 meets Carrera 3, or the closest Transmileno stop is Universidads. When you exit the station walk towards and then cross Parque Germania. Follow the small stream up the hill along Calle 22 and you will come out by the station and entrance to the hike.
If you do want to hike the route is open 6am – 4pm but the latest you can start the hike up is at 1pm. The path has been flagged as dangerous and there is a police present, at least at the weekends, but I’ve been told it is much safer and you can hike all week. Just be aware of your valuables when hiking. It shouldn’t take much longer than two hours, which was our time with a 4 year old in tow and although its steep in places it shouldn’t be too challenging. There are plenty of places to stop and rest along the way and some great views.
If you decide to take the transport its $21000 for a return ticket and $12000 for a single. Just consider that there are long queues at peak times, especially weekends and we had to wait for an hour to get back down after sunset. But you can’t walk at this time.
Cerró de Guadalupe
I spotted Cerró de Guadalupe on the map when we were returning from the El Chorro Waterfall hike, not really realising what it was at the time. I just spotted the access road and that there seemed to be routes taking you between the mountains. And if I see a mountain I tend to want to find a way to hike it so it got added to the list. One Friday we attempted the Mirador Aguadora from Usaquen but found out the path was closed so decided instead to rethink and head up to Cerro de Guadalupe.
You need to take a bus from the south part of the city so we headed to Tercer Mileno, Carrera 14 and Calle 6, right next to Parque Tercer Milenio. From there head out the south entrance to the main bus terminal on calle 6. You need to get on the bus to Choachi but tell them you want to get off at Cerró de Guadalupe, which is about half an hour into the journey. It’s around $4000 each way and you will get dropped off by the driver on the side of the main road on the access road that leads to the top of the mountain.
I’ve read that Sundays are quite busy but on this Friday afternoon we mostly had the hike to ourselves, aside form a few cars as most people don’t walk to the top and some workmen fixing the road. As soon as you start you can taste the fresh air and its a really peaceful and not too challenging 2km hike uphill to the top.
It was nice and quiet and when you do reach the top there is a small car park and some tourist shops and restaurants. Most were closed and we bypassed those that were open and were presented with these views when we reached the top.
The 50 ft Virgin statue is more impressive close up.
And this is Cerro de Monseratte, mentioned above. You can see that this cerro is much higher which allows for a panoramic view.
I took a lot of photos of the city as I felt the clouds kept clearing.
And here is a better view of the church, you can see that no one is around.
And a quick look at the surrounding mountains.
There are not a tonne of things to do at the top but its really worth the trip for an afternoon – don’t go there at night. Again as with most of Bogota this area was known for muggings and I’ve read that it is much safer than it was, but always be careful. We didn’t see anything to make us scared.
Afterwards it was just a case of retracing our steps back down the road. You can cross the main road and flag down one of the busses heading back to Bogota. It shouldn’t take you too long.
How to arrive at Cerró de Guadalupe
You need to go to the TansMilenio station Tercer Mileno, Carrera 14 and Calle 6, right next to Parque Tercer Milenio. It’s advised that you don’t walk, despite what the other blogs say. I’ve been told to keep out of certain areas of the city and this is one. That said the next bus stop you need to reach from the TransMilenio is one block away and there is a police station on the way so it’s safe, just don’t stray.
The Bus station you want to reach is on Calle 6 and on Maps.me (which I really recommend you downloading) it’s marked with two names, La Estaanzuela and Transoroente. To find it, take the south entrance from the station and head to the right, west, away from the mountains. If you don’t find it within one block you have gone too far.
From here you will need to take a bus to Choachi, $4000, and ask to be dropped at the road for Cerró de Guadalupe. Busses are pretty regular and from where you are dropped its a 2km walk to the top. When you are ready walk back down and flag one of the busses heading back to Bogota.