For those flying in and out of Bogotá, a weeklong regional trip into the highlands is quite manageable. You can add an extra day or two in the city if desired, though this trip emphasizes getting out of the city and into the countryside to visit quaint colonial villages, hike in some spectacular Andean terrain, and partake in some adventure sports like whitewater rafting and paragliding.
Day 1: Bogotá & Zipaquirá
Rent a car at the airport and drive straight to Zipaquirá, a colonial town just 30 minutes or so outside of Bogotá. After checking in to the Hotel Camino de la Sal, visit the Catedral de Sal, a Catholic church built in an old salt mine. Afterward, explore the town’s main plaza, surrounded by colonial architecture. For dinner, drive to the nearby Chía for the famed steakhouse and crazy party at Andrés Carne de Rés.
Days 2–4: Parque Nacional Natural El Cocuy
Wake early and drive to El Cocuy, a whitewashed colonial town that will be your base for hiking in Cocuy National Park. Spend the first evening acclimatizing and hiring guides (and horses if desired) for short hikes through the mountainous terrain. While there, keep an eye out for condors, which are often spotted soaring overhead. Alternatively, you can spend an entire week here on more extensive treks in the park and ice climbing on glaciers.
NOTE: Unfortunately, the entire 306,000 hectare Parque Nacional Natural El Cocuy ★★, including the signature 7-day circuit, has mostly been closed to visitors since late 2013. The combination of too much trash brought in by an increasing number of visitors and not enough supervision was having a terrible impact on the environment, pushing the government to close the park to ecotourism. Some park officials have been pushing for it to reopen, but the U’wa have resisted, insisting that they are the traditional authorities over the terrain. Until some sort of agreement is in place, all entrances to the park have been closed. Be sure to contact the national park offices (www.parquesnacionales.gov.co) well in advance before planning any hikes in the park.
Days 5 & 6: San Gil & Barichara
From Cocuy, get back in the car and drive to San Gil, the adventure sports capital of Colombia. While rafting the Class V rapids on the Rio Suárez reigns supreme, almost any X-Games style sport you can imagine can be done here. There’s paragliding, caving, canyoning, and hiking. Don’t forget to ride the cable car over Chicamocha Canyon either! Spend your nights in the colonial town of Barichara to explore the tree-lined plazas and charming cobblestone streets lined with whitewashed houses topped by clay-tiled roofs.
Day 7: Back to Bogotá
Spend your last day driving back Bogotá to catch your red-eye flight home. Otherwise make another stop in the colonial town of Villa de Leyva on your way to break up the journey even more.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.