One of the best antidotes to the stress of city life is taking a break for the weekend and pitching your tent where the air is fresh and cool and the only sounds at night are frogs croaking. Whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway or want to spend your vacation in nature, the departments of Cundinamarca and nearby Boyacá are home to a variety of nature reserves and private camping areas. Here are four camping destinations within four hours of the capital:
Parque Matarredonda, Cundinamarca
Only thirty minutes from Bogotá, Parque Matarredonda offers city dwellers the opportunity to explore the páramo, a unique high altitude ecosystem found only a few places in the world. Although dozens hike here during the day, few stay the night so don’t be surprised if your tent is the only one in the area. Visitors can camp near a solitary lake and hike along miles of trails through the mountains that provides water for much of Bogotá.
How to get here: Catch a bus going to Choachí in front of the Tercer Milenio Transmilenio station and ask the driver to let you off at the entrance to the park.
Cost: $10,000 pesos per tent for up to four people and $15,000 per tent for more than four.
What to bring: Rain gear, warm clothes, and a completely waterproof tent.
Contact information: 209-6384 or 310-696-3135
Suesca is a popular destination for mountain climbers an hour north of Bogotá. It’s fairly crowded on the weekends, but offers visitors a chance to climb, hike and participate in extreme sports. You can pitch your tent at Campo Base, about a ten-minute walk from the entrance to the climbing rocks, or head to the secluded Mirador de la Laguna on the shore of the Laguna de Suesca. The proprietress here will set up a hammock and let you spend the afternoon lazily contemplating the reflection of the trees in the water.
How to get here: From Portal del Norte, buses leave approximately every fifteen minutes for Suesca. To get to the Mirador de la Laguna you need to take another bus from Suesca and then walk 3 kilometers to the lake.
Cost: $10,000 pesos per night per person at Campo Base and $30,000 pesos per tent at Mirador de la Laguna.
What to bring: If you’re staying at Campo Base you can stock up on supplies in town, but Mirador de la Laguna is fairly remote. Unless you want to pay $20,000 pesos a meal at the restaurant, you should bring a camping stove and potable water.
Contact information: 310-813-0384 (Campo Base) or www.hycdecolombia.com (Mirador de la Laguna)
Villa de Leyva, Boyacá
A beautiful colonial town three hours north of Bogotá, Villa de Leyva is a haven for hippies and Bogotanos looking for an escape. Although the town is full of upscale restaurants and luxury hotels, there are also several places to camp within the city limits. El Molino, the site of an old mill that has been converted into a camping area, is the most interesting place to stay. Just don’t pitch your tent near the roosters or you’ll get a 4 a.m. wake-up call.
How to get here: Take a bus from Portal del Norte either via Tunja or directly to Villa de Leyva
Cost: $12,000 pesos per person per night
What to bring: You can buy groceries in town, but bring rain gear and a rain tarp if you don’t want to wake up soaking wet. The rain can be especially unpredictable in this region.
Contact information: www.villadeleyva-boyaca.gov.co
Santuario de Iguaque
The stunningly beautiful Santuario de Iguaque is a national park in the mountains outside of Villa de Leyva. Visitors can stay in tents or cabins and hike to the Laguna de Iguaque, a sacred Muisca lake. The highest point is at 3,800 meters above sea level, so be prepared to feel short of breath if you’re not used to the altitude.
How to get here: Take a bus heading to Arcabuco from Villa de Leyva and ask the driver to let you off at the entrance to the park. From there it’s a 5 km uphill hike to the camping area. You need to make reservations at least one week in advance to stay at this national park.
Cost: $10,000 pesos per person per night to camp or $38,000 per person for a cabin.
What to bring: Warm clothing and plenty of water. There’s a restaurant in the national park above the camping area.
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