I had a dream where deep blue skies reflected in the silvery waters of a tranquil lake. My mind at sleep pictured the discreet patches of white clouds slowly flowing by. I awoke gently from my siesta, bathed in the lowering sunlight, my head resting on the grassy banks.
I am a long way from the highland lakes of Scotland and my Wordsworth poems escape me. But I am consoled by the fact, that I will make it back in time to the city to recount the fleeting moment of being in Neusa.
‘Are we really that close to Bogotá?’ asked a friend of mine, lying down in a green field next to me and looking up at the heavens. “We drove for just over an hour and it feels like we are ages away” he remarks. He is right. We have traveled a short distance – just sixty or so kilometers – but we were worlds away. It was what I needed. The escape.
Spending a day on the shores of the Neusa Lake is relaxing. Of all the watering holes surrounding Bogotá – Neusa is one of the most beautiful and enigmatic. Tourists tend to head elsewhere. Guatavita, for example, with its legendary attraction of El Dorado gold, buried deep in its murky underwater cavern. Neusa promises nothing. No road to riches. Just words and a place to rest my head.
It is discreet and unassuming. A place where clouds give way to sentiment. Where dreams sprout like the birches and the pine wood forests surrounding me. And I am surrounded by trees, rising up out of this dried-out river valley, where the muisca Indians once roamed and performed their sacred rituals under the midnight stars.
I snap out of my dream sequence – liebestraum – to the sound of children laughing by the mirrored lake. It’s lunchtime and my stomach, like the mind, needs attention.
If you leave your home around midday and head north you can make it to Neusa for a picnic lunch. For the seriously prepared at cooking ‘parrilla’ there are several discreet brick barbecues available for public use around the lake.
Once you reach the shores of Neusa, you will be asked a small entrance fee before facing a ‘cornelian choice’ between choosing the Chapinero or Rosales areas of the park. You can access the main banks of the lake by a well-kept dirt road. Finding the ideal place for your ‘barbie’ and siesta is up to you. No worries, it is packed with perfect spots.
Should you be looking for a walk to help the lunch go down, there are surprisingly beautiful forests rising uphill from the dirt road that will do the trick. The brave can even have a swim in the lake, as the water is clean. If you don’t, your dog surely will, as the lake is full of trout.
The trip back to Bogota is quick and smooth, especially if you choose to go on a Saturday, which generally tends to be less crowded. Oh and one last thing, on your way back you may come across a huge replica of India’s Taj Mahal – almost as big as the original – in a place called Briceño, but that’s another story. Right now, I have to return home and exorcise the poet in me.
The Neusa Park is located 67 kilometers north of Bogotá on the main road leading from Zipaquira to Ubaté, making a turn left at Km 14. There are frequent buses to Zipaquira and Ubaté from Bogotá’s main bus terminal.