Huisyzuca Eco-Park: Sustainable ecotourism for Bogotá

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The Huisyzuca Eco-Park covers an area of 400 hectares between Bogotá's northern Cerros and La Calera. Photo: Richard Emblin

Spanning the northeastern ridge of Bogotá’s Cerros Orientales, Huisyzuca Eco-Park is quietly revolutionizing the way we think about sustainable tourism and community-driven environmental initiatives. In a city renowned for its striking urban landscapes and the vibrant energy of its streets, Huisyzuca offers a serene escape into the hearth of nature, all while championing environmental awareness and conservation among Bogotá’s most vulnerable communities.

Huisyzuca is a testament to the harmony between urban dynamism and the preservation of natural beauty. Located above and beyond the Calle 160 with Carrera 7, the park’s picturesque landscapes and lush greenery present an oasis of tranquility that is as surprising as it is captivating. It’s a side of Bogotá many would never imagine exists just beyond the city’s hustle and bustle.

View of Bogotá’s north from the summit of El Chuscal, part of the Huisyzuca Eco-Park and Nature Reserve. Photo: Richard Emblin

At the heart of Huisyzuca’s mission lies a commitment to renewable natural resources and responsible outdoor recreation. This park has forged its path through community-led initiatives by establishing the Efecto Mariposa Foundation, to create the nature guides of tomorrow. With  regular guided hikes and educational programs for novice hikers, visitors are not only treated to breathtaking vistas but are encouraged to promote the park’s crucial role in maintaining biodiversity and water resources.

What sets Huisyzuca apart is a pioneering approach to self-sustaining conservation. Funds generated from the park’s entry tickets, private donations and other private initiatives are reinvested into preserving the high-altitude eco-systems and reforestation programs. In a city eager to embrace eco-friendly tourism, Huisyzuca’s tour guides know how to identify local species, and those that are endangered.

The Cerros Orientales of Bogotá are home to pine and eucalyptus trees planted for reforestation, yet have inadvertently disrupted local habitats for species and negatively affected water tables as these trees consume large amounts of the natural resource. Started in 2020 as a private initiative by entrepreneur Francisco Silva, Huisyzuca has grown from an original 200 hectares to 400, in order to consolidate the area as an essential biosphere for Bogotá’s northern-most localities. The Eco-Park will soon set up specialized stands for vendors from Santa Cecilia and Cerro Norte to sell snacks, coffee and other refreshments to hikers.

Encompassing private and public lands, Huisyzuca aspires to become one of the city’s premier ecotourism destinations, offering a tapestry of activities by well-informed eco-guides who possess an intimate knowledge of the trails, flora, and fauna. Trails are tailored to meet your needs, and are clearly marked with attentive guides along each route.

The leisurely 3.8 km walk through a pristine forest and visit to natural spring wells, takes on average 1.2 hours, and is called Ruta Triangulo, as it forms a triangle between the entrance to the reserve and back. A slightly longer trail (Ruta Ajisal) covers 5 km and takes 1.5 hours. The more demanding Ruta Completa covers 8.3 km and last 3.5 hours depending on your stamina and with breaks to enjoy early morning vistas.

What sets Huisyzuca apart is its unwavering emphasis on community engagement and ownership. The neighboring communities of Santa Cecilia and Cerro Norte that from the a high vantage point look like the wings of a butterfly are integral components of the project. Through active participation in conservation and restoration efforts, these communities have developed a deep sense of ownership and responsibility, reinforcing their commitment to environmental protection.

Huisyzuca exemplifies grassroots tourism, and where vulnerable communities can actively contribute to safeguarding Bogotá’s ecosystems and the safety of visitors  It also serves as a model for initiatives worldwide, showcasing the transformative power of education, participation, and collaboration with academic institutions in advancing environmental restoration.

Huisyzuca Eco-Park is more than just a green sanctuary above Bogotá; it’s a symbol of how citizens are dedicated in preserving natural havens, while uplifting its most vulnerable residents. As the project continues to evolve and expand, with the aim of becoming the second largest Eco-Park in Latin America, by empowering local communities to take charge of their environment, this public-private partnership proves that all initiatives that work together can benefit the environment and society-at-large A combination that is a essential towards off-setting carbon emissions and ultimately climate change.

The meeting place for visiting the Huisyzuca Eco-Park is at the corner of Cra 6 with Calle 162A, where Jeeps operated by the inhabitants of Codito and Mariposa offer shared rides to the entrance for COP$5000 per person. The next outing with conservationists from Live Happy and guides with the Efecto Mariposa Foundation is on Saturday, October 14. (starting 7:00 am). The outing includes birdwatching with ornithologist Julian Salamanca. The birdwatching expedition throughout the nature reserve on Saturday is free. For information on purchasing tickets with a day pass (COP$35,000), and other outings visit the Eco-Park and nature reserve’s official website: huisyzuca.com

The high-altitude Eco-Park is home to impressive Andean biodiversity along every trail. Photo: Richard Emblin
The high-altitude Eco-Park is home to impressive Andean biodiversity along every trail. Photo: Richard Emblin