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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

South American Adventure: Bogotá, Colombia. 5 Places to Love

Nestled in the Andes in South America, Bogotá is the capital and the largest city of Colombia. Shedding its nefarious past, Bogotá has evolved into one of Latin America’s best metropolis to visit and live. This locale is a perfect destination to visit if taking your first trip to South America or as the destination to choose for your honeymoon registry.

clip_image002 Photo Credit: luxuo.com

Here are 5 perfect locations to visit in Bogotá.

1. History and Culture: La Candelaria Neighborhood clip_image003
clip_image005 Photo Credit: es.wikipedia.org

La Candelaria is in the historic neighborhood and located within central downtown Bogotá. This quaint section of Bogotá boasts a rich and vibrant scene for art and historian lovers. The architecture in La Candelaria is a mixture of Baroque and Spanish Colonial, all lining cobblestone streets. Places to visit include Plaza de Bolivar, the beautiful yellow pastel church—Iglesia de la Candelaria, and the Coin House. A must see spot is The Gold Museum. With three floors, this interesting exhibit showcases one of the world’s most amazing selections of pre-historic gold. Besides the historical and cultural influx in this section of the city, La Candelaria offers a variant of delicious cuisines that boosts both a local and international flavor: Middle Eastern, French, Japanese, and Mexican.

2. Rise Above The Clouds and Into The Sky: Monserrat
clip_image007 Photo Credit: www.latin-wife.com

A beauteous mountain that sits at the center of Bogotá, Montserrat is the perfect hiker’s paradise that takes 1.5 to 2 hours to get to the top. Rising to 3,152 meters (10,341 ft) above the sea level, this is the site of pilgrimages during holy holidays and the perfect spot to enjoy the scenic view. At only $7 USD per ride, this is the perfect way to enjoy a relaxing view of Bogotá. Visit the eastern side of the mountain, Cerro de Monserrat “Sanctuary of Monserrat.” Here is the famed and revered shrine of Señor Caído also known as the “Fallen Lord,” which sits at the top of Montserrat. Locals believe that miracles are in abundance and the pilgrimage to the top speaks of penance. Ride the teleférico or funicular railway for an easier way up. Dine at one of the two main restaurants to enjoy the view of both the city and the mountains: Restaurante Casa San Isidro or Restaurante Casa Santa Clara. At either restaurant, both local cuisines and international flavor mesh for the perfect entrée.

3. The Road to El Dorado: Laguna de Guatavita
clip_image009 Photo Credit: www.colombia.travel

Also known as Lake Guatavita, “the gold lake,” this circular lake resembles a meteor crater. Located 35 miles northeast to Bogotá, Lake Guatavita is thought to be the site of El Dorado. Tours are available, where your guide will regale you with tales of the history of the lake. Locals believe treasures of gold from the indigenous Musica tribe sprinkled the lake’s bottom and surface with gold dust, objects, and jewelry. Learn how Spanish conquistadors in 1537 attempted to empty the lake with buckets and cups after enslaving the Musica tribe as laborers. After learning about this history and the rich stories that surround this “lake of gold,” stroll around and capture the essence of this scenic landscape which surrounds Lake Guatavita. Find the perfect souvenir at one of the nearby fairs, where locals cleverly crafted pieces made of wool, gold, or clay.

4. A Breath of Fresh Air: Bogotá Botanical Garden
clip_image011 Photo Credit: travel.mongabay.com

Named after the Spanish botanist, Jose Celestino Mutis, this lush paradise features a19 hectares (46.95 acres) of over 18,200 species of plants and flowers, a veritable greenhouse, the largest Amazonian flower, and the national tree of Colombia, “Palma de Cera.” Former travelers to this beautiful garden recommend a tour guide to provide a better and more informed visit, especially the history and stories behind the botanic. Other hidden gems around this garden include an ecologic center, well placed lakes, and fountains to produce a tranquil ambiance. What makes this botanical haven different from others is the brief showcase of regions around Colombia. Observe how these different sections of the garden are organized based on the weather, habitat, and indigenous plants of that region: paramo, Amazonia, the Andean landscape, plains of the Orinoco and swamps. Just don’t forget your camera, to capture the beauty and essence of the haven.

5. A Bogotá Nightlife: La Zona Rosa de Bogotá
clip_image013 Photo Credit: img.timeinc.net/

Unwind after a long day from hiking and sightseeing at one of the plush restaurants, clubs, or bars in La Zona Rosa, “the Pink Zone.” Handcrafted beers abounds, while bistro-style seating at one of stylish cafes beckons the trendy and hip crowd. This section of the city is also home to upscale, exclusive shopping districts. Despite the seemingly higher budget range, travel on the cobblestone pathway to south of La Zona Rosa towards the Gourmet District. Travelers can find a vast and lustrous selection of eateries that will fit any budget range. Reserve a table at Astrid and Gaston for a luxurious Peruvian experience or La Herencia for a traditional Colombian cuisine and ambiance.

P.S. These photographs do not belong to me. Photo credits have have been mentioned below each post.



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