01 February 2017
Short Trip from Bogotá: Parque Chicaque
A previous day trip to Parque Chicaque near Bogotá, Colombia left me craving more of its natural beauty. So instead of just spending a few hours in the lush cloud forest to the south of Bogotá, I decided to spend the night in the park to enjoy its full glory.
The short trip started when my boyfriend and I climbed into the shuttle bus in Bogotá. Towering apartment buildings and congested traffic gave way to rolling mountains. The journey only took about 40 minutes.
Once we arrived, a thick haze enveloped us, as if we were on the set of a horror movie, but the atmosphere was serene and tranquil. The trail is about a 30-minute descent from Parque Chicaque’s welcome center to the lodge where we stayed the night. I would like to think we are both in relatively good shape, but after a couple of minutes down that steep path, we were both huffing and puffing. Most of the trail heading to the lodge is made of stone, so be sure to wear sturdy shoes.
Muddy but happy, we finally arrived at the lodge. Even if you don’t plan on spending the night, you should still check out the lodge, or el Refugio in Spanish. The whole structure is built on stilts and is dwarfed by a mountain on one side and towers over tree tops on the other. Its high, wooden ceilings and giant fire place in the dining hall gives the building a coziness akin to an Aspen cabin.
At lunch time, the dining hall was buzzing with hungry visitors and wait staff serving up delicious traditional Colombian food and thirst-quenching juices. Our night stay included three meals, but plenty of hikers ate lunch at the lodge before heading back to Bogotá in the late afternoon.
After spending the evening on the wooden balcony that wraps around the lodge, we retired to our room. It was difficult to get a phone signal, so we spent the night reading under a mosquito net while moths tried to infiltrate the mesh barrier.
The next day started off with a yummy Colombian breakfast of hearty soup, arepas, hot chocolate, coffee and generous chunks of cheese. Parque Chicaque has seven trails, so finding more paths to explore after breakfast wasn’t a problem. We also got a bird’s-eye-view of the tree tops thanks to an Adrenaline-inducing zip-line.
When it was time to leave the park and head back to Bogotá, we opted to ride horses instead of hiking the steep trail back up to the welcome center. The horses were a bit rambunctious, but we arrived in one piece.
What to know before you go:
• It costs around 15,000 COP (or 5 USD) to enter the park. Visitors who reserve overnight lodging still need to pay the entrance fee.
• A park shuttle transports visitors between a Transmilenio bus station in Bogotá to the park on weekends and holidays. It costs 6,000 COP each way for each person.
• Parque Chicaque alone houses over 300 species of birds and is a designated Important Bird Area, so bird enthusiasts won’t be disappointed.
• Dress warmly, the park is even colder than chilly Bogotá – especially at night.
• Overnight visitors have the option of staying in the lodge, which consists of private rooms but shared bathrooms. You can also stay in private cabins, a cool treehouse or camp in a tent.
• The park offers various activities like horseback riding, zip-lining and repelling, but they cost extra. (I thought the prices were reasonable.)
Whether you are staying for a couple hours or a couple days, Parque Chicaque will amaze you with its natural beauty.
About the author:
Anneliese Delgado is an American writer living in Bogotá. Her mother is from the United States and her father is from Venezuela, giving her the unique opportunity to blend in on the streets of Colombia, while still viewing the country from the eyes of an outsider. When she’s not writing, she’s playing soccer, wandering around stores with no intention on buying anything and binge-watching Netflix. You can read more about her adventures on her blog at abroadincolombia.com.