I will be the first to admit, at my core, I am a city person. I thrive off the energy and hum of a city, the restaurants and the coffee shops, the museums and parks, the people and the culture - the life. Despite this central aspect of my being, sometimes even I just need to get out. Two weeks in Bogota has exhausted me. Don't get me wrong the city has its charms and is well worth a visit, but for me, perhaps the most appealing aspect of this particular city is the dramatic mountain range rising up on the Eastern side of the city (see my post on Monserrate for views from these mountains).
To recharge the batteries and to breathe some fresh air, a fellow remote and I decided to abandon the city this weekend and hike Cascada La Chorrera, the tallest waterfall in Colombia coming in at 590 m. To reach the waterfalls from Bogota there are a few options:
1) Take the local bus heading towards Choachi. You can catch the bus two blocks away from the Tercer Milenio Transmilenio station on Calle 6. Ask to be dropped at La Chorrera - you will see a large green sign on the left side of the road. The ride is about 45 minutes and costs 7500 pesos or $2.60. For the return journey, just flag any bus heading to Bogota down from the side of the road. (The buses are small so you may or may not have to sit on the floor...)
2) Uber. Although this sounds crazy, we were feeling lazy at 7:30am on Sunday morning and it turned out to be an excellent idea. The driver got us there efficiently, without complaints, and the ride came in at only 37,000 pesos or $12.89. (Obviously, you cannot call an uber to the middle of the mountains, so we caught the bus on the way back)
3) Rent a car. More expensive, but might be the easiest option especially if you plan to explore other areas outside of Bogota.
After driving for a little over an hour from our Chico neighborhood in Bogota, we arrived at the above mentioned green sign on the side of the road. If you are driving yourself you can continue down the dirt road to the entrance of the falls, otherwise this is where the hike begins. In this approximately 45 minute "pre-hike" section you wind through scenic green hills and mountains dotted with small farms and little shops to purchase snacks and water.
After awhile you reach the parking area, where there are a few more stands to purchase snacks or beverages before pressing on. Follow the signs for La Chorrera to the left. After one steeeeeeep uphilll and downhill you arrive at the park entrance (on the left). Head into the yurt like structure to pay the entry fee of 12,000 pesos or $4.
Onto the real hike! The first 15 minutes or so of the hike continues through green farmland, full of moo-ing cows and large boulders. I commented to my Irish companion that the scenery looked a bit like what I imagine Ireland to look like. He agreed. Heading into the Andean Cloud Forest we arrived at the first smaller waterfall, El Chiflon. You can loop up behind the waterfall and then descend to the pool at the base, where some people were jumping in.
After enjoying El Chiflon, we returned to the trail to continue on to the main event. The path began to narrow and started to climb again, yet the lush and verdant beauty of the cloud forest made up for the extra exertion. After winding up and down for 10 minutes or so, the trail opened up to a wide green plateau where we caught our first glimpse of La Chorrera in the distance, a long slim line of white cascading down the sheer wall, blanketed on either side by endless green.
Here, we picked up our local furry guide, Lupe, who chaperoned us the through the final hour of the hike, looking over his shoulder periodically to make sure we were still following. Lupe was definitely one of the most attentive and well mannered guides I've ever had.
At the base of the falls, craning your neck upwards, you can only see the last step of the waterfall. Since we happened to be visiting in the dry season, the water wasn't particularly strong, yet a steady stream continues to fall. I imagine in the rainy season you'd get quite wet here. Looking out from the falls, the mountains on either side frame the farmlands in the distance, creating a beautiful forested scene.
We returned to the city reinvigorated and once again ready to take on the big city. I would definitely recommend a visit to La Chorrera to anyone visiting Bogota for more than a few days. (BTW, in case you couldn't tell from the above photos, Colombia is REALLY REALLY green)
RECOMMENDED LA CHORRERA ESSENTIALS