Set at an altitude of over 2,000 meters in Colombia’s Eastern Andean range, Bogota boasts wonderful highland climate and natural beauty. The capital of Columbia is dotted with numerous national monuments and cultural landmarks, befitting the pulsating core of an ancient land that was periodically rediscovered by empires over the centuries. Long before the Spanish Conquistadors arrived on its shores, in search of the elusive El Dorado, the grand Muisca Empire ruled the highland valleys around modern day Santa Fe de Bogotá. Today, the ancient works of art tracing the El Dorado legends, displayed at the city’s Gold Museum, attract travellers from around the globe. The Plaza de Bolívar right in the center of town is representative of the region’s rich cultural heritage with its grand old churches, cloistered convents, and painstakingly preserved colonial architecture. Cerro Monserrate to the east, offers the highest vantage point over the city and the lush mountains towering around it. The modern city, meanwhile, has spread northwards, to the tony neighborhoods of Zona Rosa and Zona G with its trendy eateries and nightclubs.
Discover the mesmeric world of Colombian emeralds in Bogota. Colombia produces nearly 90 percent of the world’s emerald supply in its world-renowned mines. Learn to recognize an original emerald, its unique features, and different types, finally understanding why Colombian emeralds are thus highly regarded. Guided by a gemstone expert, delve into the commercial heart of emeralds and the realities of its trade in the global scenario. Visit the traditional market and observe the art of buying and selling these precious stones at the Emerald Trade Center and interact with professional carvers. You’ll be dazzled by the variety of cuts and colors! Meet with jewelry designers and craftspeople who create exquisite pieces using emeralds at Galería de Artesanías y Esmeraldas de Colombia. Drop by the Museo de la Esmeralda briefly to see more emeralds on display while learning its history. End your tour with immense knowledge and insights on Colombian emeralds. (Half day; Duration: 2 hrs; Notes: Only available between Monday to Friday, during official working hours)
Explore the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá
Following a scenic drive an hour north of Bogota, reach Zipaquira Salt Park. Its underground centerpiece, the famous Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá, features a stunning network of tunnels inside a former salt mine. From the hillside opening, descend slowly through a crimson-arched tunnel. Walk the ‘Way of the Cross’ represented by a collection of chapels showcasing noteworthy moments from Jesus’ life. You will also notice traces of original carvings left by the ancient Musica civilization. Refurbished as a tourist attraction and pilgrimage center, expect to see hollowed-out crosses and altars built by erstwhile miners to pray for their own safety. Meanwhile, your guide is happy to share anecdotes, insights, and the history of the salt mines with you. Further ahead, marvel at the magnificent salt cupola, naves of the main cathedral and the lofty carved cross, all illuminated by eerie blue lights. Sans a bishop, this is a functioning cathedral with masses congregating every Sunday. Shortly after, exit through a channel of Penitent Stairs. (Half Day; Duration: 5 hrs; Private Activity & Transfer; Please note that this activity is not available on Sundays.)
Scenic Treasures Tour from Bogota
After a scenic drive from Bogota, explore the underground Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá, created inside a former salt mine. Walk the ‘Way of the Cross’ represented by a collection of chapels showcasing noteworthy moments from Jesus’ life. Accompanied by your guide, expect to see hollowed-out crosses and altars built by erstwhile miners who prayed for their safety. Further ahead, marvel at the magnificent salt cupola, naves of the main cathedral and the lofty carved cross, all illuminated by eerie blue lights. Later, head to the charming Guatavita town through the picturesque Cundinamarca countryside. Visit its submerged old town nearby, which is now a reservoir famous for water sports. Hike to the pristine Lake Guatavita, embraced by a beautiful nature reserve. As you traverse forest trails passing by highland vegetation, learn about the former sacred site of the indigenous Musica people, famed for the legend of El Dorado. Enjoy stunning panoramas of the crater and admire the lake from multiple vantages before returning to Bogota. (Full Day; Duration: 10 hrs; Private Activity & Transfer; Please note that Zipaquirá is closed on Sundays)