Day 3 – Bogotá, Zipaquirá
We started early in the morning to grab some breakfast at the Ibis Hotel and then headed out to the Calle 26 bus stop to take the bus to the Portal del Norte (North bus terminal). Take any bus that says Portal del Norte and starts with “B” (every 10 minutes) and takes about 40 minutes (Cost COP 3,000 per ride).
After reaching the bus terminal, we crossed over to the other side of the terminal station to catch a bus to Zipaquirá. Look out for mini-buses with a board saying ‘Zipa’. It takes about 45 minutes to reach the town of Zipaquirá. Make sure to inform the bus driver that you want to go to the Catedral de Salta. Getting off at an intersection of main highway and Calle 4, we walked north along Calle 4 in to the old town and turned right on Carrera 8, that leads to a huge plaza with the prominent Church of Zipaquirá – this is not the famous Salt Cathedral, but a church in the town.
We also had some empanadas from a tiny cafe right next to the defunct train station.
[Entering old town Zipaquirá on Calle 4]
[Church of Zipaquirá town]
[Zipaquirá Municipal Building]
[Old town Zipaquirá]
Turn left on Carrera 7 and walk all the way to the end, then right on Calle 1, and finally left Carrera 6 to reach the entrance of the Salt Cathedral.
[Entrance to Salt Cathedral]
Called as “Catedral de Sal de Zipaquirá”, this is an underground Roman Catholic church built within the tunnels of a salt mine 200 meters underground in a Halite mountain. It is one of the most popular tourist destination in Colombia, and although this is a functioning church that receives as many as 3,000 visitors on Sundays, it has no bishop and therefore no official status as a cathedral in Catholicism.
The temple at the bottom has three sections, representing the birth, life, and death of Jesus. The icons, ornaments and architectural details are hand carved in the halite rock.
Entrance fee: COP 29,000 per person. Give yourself at least 3 hours to walk across the cathedral and back.
We walked back along Calle 4 back to the same intersection and there was already a bus waiting for passengers to Bogota Portal del Norte (buses wait for 5-10 mins max), so we hopped in and in 45 minutes we were back to the north bus station (Portal del Norte) in Bogota. We caught the next “J” bus to Calle 26.
After some rest in the afternoon, we took a taxi to the base of Cerro de Monserrate, from where you can take a cable car (Telerifico) or funicular up to the top of the mountain. The cable car costs COP 9,400 per person for a return trip on Sunday (see below for prices), and funicular is slower than the cable car. Also, the splendid views of the city while going up or down are from the cable car.
You can also hike up the stone-set path up Monserrate like the locals do without any additional costs. It takes approximately 1-1.5 hours up and approximately 45 minutes down. The top is at 2 miles above sea level, so give yourself enough time to get used to the altitude. Carry some anti-altitude sickness medicines with you. There have been reports of muggings, so beware when you do the climb and if you can, go at weekends when the way is much more crowded and police officers are posted every hundred meters or so.
The ticket window is at the front entrance, while the line to the cable car forms at the back of the building, so make sure to get your tickets before you wait in line. Remember to bring a warm coat as it can get really chilly at the top and avoid the mass crowds by not going there on Sundays.
|Monday – Friday||07:00 – 11:45||00:00 – 10:30||COP 8,200 One-way
COP 16,400 Round-tip
|Saturday||07:00 – 16:00||08:30 – 16:30||COP 8,200 One-way
COP 16,400 Round-tip
|Sunday||06:00 – 17:00||08:00 – 16:30||COP 4,700 One-way
COP 9,400 Round-tip
|Holidays||06:30 – 17:00||14:00 – 17:00|
For spectacular views of the city, we recommend reaching there about 30 minutes before sunset and experience the lights turn on as the sun goes down. There is a picturesque little white church built on the top of the mountain, and many make the pilgrimage to give thanks to El Señor Caido, the statue of “the fallen Lord” inside the church. You can buy souvenirs and eat delicious food right behind the church that towers this city at the top of Cerro de Monserrate. Try “aromatica” sold by street vendors and shops – it’s a great drink to have in cold weather of Bogota.
We headed back to the Centro internacional for dinner at Archie’s restaurant and called it an early night to be able to catch early morning flight to Armenia.
Note: All values in USD, unless otherwise mentioned, are approximate and based on the exchange rate of USD 1 = COP 2200 at the time of publishing. Each cost is for one adult.
|Bus from Calle 26 to Portal del Norte||$2.72||COP 6,000 per person. Return trip.|
|Bus from Bogota to Zipaquirá||$3.90||COP 8,600 per person. Return trip.|
|Empanadas at Zipaquira||$1.59||COP 3,500 for 4 pieces.|
|Salt Cathedral||$13.18||COP 29,000 per person entrance fee.|
|Taxi to Cerro de Monserrate||$5.45||COP 12,000 per ride, return trip.|
|Cerro de Monserrate Telerifico||$4.27||COP 9,400 per person, return trip.|
|Aromatica||$0.45||COP 1,000 per person.|
|Water & snacks||$4.54||COP 10,000 per person.|
|Dinner at Archie’s restaurant||$5.68||COP 12,500 per person.|
|Total Costs||$41.78||Per person|
|Overall Costs||$1,575.68||Per person|