About an hour outside of Bogota on the bus is Suesca, a small town that is defined not only by its cement factory, but also by its natural beauty. Its one of the many places around Bogota that you can go climbing and there are many trails to hike. Along the main road approaching the town you will find a multitude of climbing shops where you can hire equipment and more importantly guides, as well as restaurants and shops. There are plenty of places to stay and camp and its well worth your attention for a weekend.
I decided to go there and hike on one of the many holiday Mondays in Colombia and it was my first solo hike since returning to South America. This time I took off alone, which was actually quite nerve racking, despite having done this many, many times the year before I was out of practice. But my Spanish is better and so is my planning. For more information about how to arrive and to hike the same route as me scroll to the bottom.
I took an Uber to the North Terminal in Bogota, we have had so many disastrous attempts in getting there that I thought for once I want this to be easy. And this time it was. The cycle paths had not opened and being a holiday there was much less traffic than usual. I arrived at the station just before 7 am and was on a bus by around 7:15 am. Initially I headed into the main building and was directed to the far end. It’s a little difficult to describe but when facing the terminal there are a set of more local busses that leave from the bottom right corner, there is a huge sign which details the destinations of the busses. I grabbed some water and walked around the complex, standing in line for my bus
Tell the driver that you want to go to Rocas de Suesca and you will pay $7600 and they should drop you off in the correct place which is just before the river. You do not want to go all the way into the town or you will be dropped in the wrong place. Assuming you are dropped in the correct place, it will be on the same side of the road in which you left the bus, then there is a short walk to the train tracks and you will see the views in the photos below.
The sign above tells you that its dangerous to walk along the tracks. This is a working railway for cargo only. I don’t know how often the trains run, I didn’t see any but I hiked on a holiday so I assume they were not working. The only way to access the bottom of the cliffs is along the railway line so people do walk along it but just take this into consideration during the hike. I didn’t see any areas where it would not be possible to stand back and let the train pass and you should hear it coming from a long distance but again, just be careful.
There is also a path that leads straight across the railway and up into the hills, this is where you will end up. I wanted to follow the train track and recreate scenes from the movies I watched as a child. In hindsight stones are not the best for hiking on but there are well trodden paths along the sides of the track and you can also walk along the sleepers. So after taking some photos I immediately headed to the left to follow the tracks.
After curving around to the right the track levelled out and I could see the cliffs and very soon saw climbers making their way up the rocks. I also spotted a Virgin Mary which I’m hoping is not a tribute to anyone who has died.
I was lucky to be able to hike on a beautiful day and it had only taken me an hour to arrive so I started early around 8:30am. The initial leg of my trip was just over 5km and I wanted to go to Cañón de la Lechuza, a mirador on maps.me which is you can find by just following the tracks and if you wanted to go further then just under 1 more kilometer takes you to the town of Santa Rosita. I decided not to walk that far, but you will see it in the photos below. There you could have lunch as there are some restaurants, bakeries and hotels if you wanted to stay. But this whole hike is easily done in 3-4 hours. I was on a but by 12pm and I stopped a lot to take photos.
I really enjoyed the rugged terrain and the foliage growing out of the rocks. The photos don’t really do it justice but some of it seemed like giant spiderwebs.
I soon came across a camp site with plenty of families staying there. I also got the impression that any of the climbers were using it as a base because there were a lot of people in climbing gear walking to and from there. Although as I went further up the tracks I didn’t see so many people.
The mountains close in the further along you go forming a canyon and with the river right at the bottom it provided some beautiful views and sounds.
There was something about the rocks that fascinated me.
The trees were beautiful as well. Everything was so lush and green, I assume because we are in the middle of rainy season, but the trees gave me the impression that it was autumn so the colours were particularly spectacular. Being close to the equator Colombia doesn’t really have seasons but the climate changes so much form place to place. The Bogota Savannah is around 2600 metres in altitude and you only have to travel 90 minutes and drop to 1500 to find the weather mush more tropical or head another way and go up to 4000 meters to find yourself in the middle of a Palermo where it is cold and wet. Its one reason I love mountainous regions.
After I came out of the rocks above the train line goes around in a huge circle, after seeing the landscape I can only assume that they were not given permission to build on someones land.
Also take note of the photo above as this is the beginning of the path where you head up to hike along the top of the cliffs.
I continued to follow the tracks and then they took a turn to the right and I was surrounded by trees again and started seeing some properties. I thought there might be a way to meet the main road here but alas the properties were in the way. But soon I reached the mirador.
It was around 10am when I arrived and I saw some flowers which I took a some closeups. And very quickly got upclose and personal with a vulture, who I didn’t see until the last second as I sat to eat my crisps.
This was my intended endpoint but as views go I was a little disappointed. I sat and rested while a couple of groups passed me and then tried to take some photos. I had read that the canyon was a place you could view owls, hence the name, but its really difficult to get a decent view without half hanging off the edge and that was something I really didn’t want to do. I have seen videos of people kayaking along so maybe if that’s of interest its something you can opt for. I really wasn’t happy with my photos, which you can see below, but I wanted to take some to illustrate. But don’t let this put you off the hike as its beautiful, I just wanted to be realistic about the “mirador”. From here you can either continue to Santa Rosita.
I wanted to see the town and continued to the point below. I decided that i didn’t want to add an extra two kilometres to my journey but I think it would be a nice place to stop on the outward journey.
I really liked the house in the photos below right next to the tracks.
And I found some more flowers.
I retraced my steps along the track a little faster this time as I wanted to find the path that would take me along the top of the cliffs.
And soon I found it. I was about to head up when I saw a security guard with a very excited puppy, who ran up to me and wanted to play. I decided to ask for some directions and accidentally trod on the puppy’s tail as he lay down in front of me. Luckily the security guard took it with good grace and set me on the right trail.
I wouldn’t say it is particularly steep but there is definitely a good amount of up at this stage and I passed straight into the trees, passing a fair few hikers.
You come out into a meadow and from here you can see views of all the surrounding mountains as well as a panoramic view of the canyon.
When you reach this point you want to take the path to the right, following the side of the canyon. The security guard overtook me on his bike and I found that there was a path leading down but it had a fallen tree across it. The tree was easily crossed but there was another large group coming form the path that came from the left. I thought I had gone the wrong way so took the path to the left and soon realised I wasn’t on the correct path according to Maps.me, but also I wasn’t too far away from it. Luckily the security guard and the dog came back and he informed me that I was going in the wrong direction. So I retracted my steps and headed back to the path going down, but I was quite happy as this is the direction I had originally wanted to travel.
Here is the tree blocking the path.
As the path led down I was treated to some great views and got closer and closer to the canyon itself. Soon I was able to see the places where climbers had reached the top and has left the bolts in the rocks.
I then got to see the train tracks from above which is something I was particularly excited about.
And in the photos below you can see the town of Suesca and the camp site. The trip back is again around 5km and its not a hard route to follow. The path is often pretty wide and all you have to do is stay along the edge of the cliff.
After a while you will start seeing properties and ar which will take other routes down to the main road, but make sure you stay to the right following the main route.
Then I got to see some of the larger mountains surrounding the wider Bogota area.
As you can see the path above turns to rock. As I was busy taking photographs near the end of the hike I disturbed two vultures and was able to quickly switch lenses to photograph them.
And then it was time to head back down to the tracks where I had started. This part of the trail is pretty steep but nothing too crazy. There were a lot of local people walking towards me back to their houses.
I arrived back into town around midday and decided to trat myself to a Colombiana. You can of course stop here for lunch as it is fairly touristy and there are a lot of restaurants – it all depends on how much you want to push yourself. When you are ready to head back to Bogota, cross the road and flag down a red and black bus. The return journey costs the same. I wasn’t waiting too long for a bus to arrive so they will be fairly frequent.
How to get to Suesca
Its a pretty easy journey to Suecsa and takes around 1 hour when you are on the bus. You can either take the bus form Bogota’s main terminal or from Terminal Norte. My advice would be to go to Terminal Norte on the Transmilenio. At the terminal do not go towards the main building, but instead head to the right and you will see signs for a lot of towns including Suesca. Follow the path around the bus park and you will see lines with one being for Suesca.
Wait here for the bus to arrive and get on. You will be charged $7600 for the ride and make sure you tell them you want to got to Rocas de Suesca, which is outside the town. They should drop you at the right place but look for Vamonos Pal Monte, resturant, just before the river on the map below and that’s where you want to depart. From here walk to the train line and to follow the tracks turn left, or to go up along the ridge go straight ahead. There are no entrance fees.