Published on June 11th, 2017 | by Charly Mancilla Monroy


Mysterious Guatavita Lake: A Beautiful Bogota Side Trip

A place of incredible myths and legends, known for its cultural and historic richness and beautiful landscapes, the municipality of Guatavita — an easy side trip from Bogota — is a place where you can let go of all the stress of the big city.

Guatavita may not be large, but it has all you need to spend a day, or two or three. Here, you can learn about the culture of one of the largest ethnic groups in Colombia: the Muisca.

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Guatavita, which in the Muisca language means “top of the mountain,” is also the name of a lagoon located here. That picturesque body of water is, in fact, the largest natural attraction in the region. And its fascinating legend dates to the arrival of Spanish explorer Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada, who was the founder of Bogota.

According to the story, every time a male local was to take the place of his father, the Muisca community would get together on the evening of a full moon. The young man would be covered from head to to foot in gold dust and bedecked with fine jewels as an offering to the gods. Four priests would accompany him to the lagoon, where a small boat of gold would be set upon the waters, so that it would be at the center of the lagoon when the full moon was at its highest point. At that time, the young man would be submerged in the lagoon, as his subjects sang and gathered their offerings: gold figurines, bracelets, crowns, breastplates, vases filled with emeralds and clay pots.

That’s just a bit of the fascinating leyenda del dorado.

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Among the other interesting attractions in Guatavita:

• Puente de los Enamorados (Lover’s Bridge): This lovely wooden bridge, built across a dry river, supposedly promises that every couple who crosses while holding hands — and who stops in the middle to kiss — will never separate. This pleasant and tranquil place offers pretty views.

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• Tomine Reservoir: Measuring 18 kilometers long, 4 kilometers wide and 50 meters deep, this reservoir is of vital importance for the region, and also offers a picturesque setting. It also hosts several water sports events, including sailboating, water skiing and boat rides. A variety of restaurants round out the offerings.

Near the reservoir, the town of Guatavita was constructed with the architectural feel of old Spain, and offers a variety of diversions, including afternoon strolls, shopping for arts and crafts and the Guatatren, a popular mode of transportation.

Other popular attractions in the area include museums dedicated to religion and indigenous culture, the historic Nuestra Señora de los Dolores and an indigenous cemetery.

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You can reach Guatavita from Bogota by taking the Transmilenio bus service to the Portal Norte bus stop, and from there take an “inter municipal” bus to Guatavita.

Located about 75 kilometers northwest of Bogota on the Autopista Norte, the municipality of Guatavita is at an altitude of 2,668 meters, and is bounded on the north by the municipalities of Sesquilé and Machetá and on the east by Gachetá and Junín. On the south are Guasca and Sopó (also highlighted as a great Bogota day trip) and on the west by Tocancipá and Gachancipá. The average temperature is 14 degrees celsius.

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About the Author

A native of Bogota, Colombia, Charly is a university student focusing on tourism and is passionate about travel around his beautiful South American nation.

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