Catedral de Sal, Zipaquirá; Bogotá’s most popular day-trip
During our first Uber ride in Bogotá, we met a charming little man who chatted away for almost an hour in the traffic. He told us to call him if we ever wanted to go anywhere outside of Bogotá. When Lozzy’s parents arrived, we decided we wanted to go to Zipaquirá to see the Catedral del Sal, but the shuttles were really expensive and local buses seemed a little complicated for the oldies’ first day. We gave our friend a call, and he offered to take us out to Zipaquirá and Guatavita Lake for the day, stopping in at Monserrate if the day was clear (it was!).
As Uber/private cars aren’t legal, we had to make up the story that we were extras in a film being transported to a new set, though luckily we never had to use it! He cost us around £80 for the day. Not the cheapest, but you’ll see that our daily budgets got infinitely grander once Lozzy’s parents were in town 😉 Another popular method to get there is the ‘tren turistico de la sabana‘ train, which leaves from Usaquén station, and verrrrry slowly takes you up through local towns. Expect in-train entertainment and bars!
We stopped in Zipaquirá for lunch. It’s a really beautiful town with old architecture and colourful paint. The lunch option we were recommended by our driver was potentially just ‘the place tourists are taken’ so he thought we would like it too. In truth, we did like it, but would have preferred a small local restaurant where we weren’t surrounded by the passengers of several tour operators’ coaches.
The Catedral de Sal didn’t feel busy at all inside. It’s a fair bit of walking on dark, uneven ground, and for those who struggle with stairs there may be some difficulties. The first 15 minutes of walking is fairly boring, just looking at 5ft crosses in different caves along the way. However, once you get into the main chamber it’s pretty awesome. You do get an audio-guide included with your entrance fee (34,000 pesos), but Lozzy ditched hers after the first 10 chapters were just a retelling of the bible to accompany the mini-crosses. Andy persevered, and reports that things got a little more interesting later on.
After spending time in the Catedral de Sal, you’ll be ushered into a passageway lined with jade and jewellery sellers. After this, there are several other chambers to check out as park of the ‘Salt Park’, including an underground light show and a 3D cinema with a short film about how the cathedral was created, and the legends behind it (we recommend this!). We probably spent an hour and a half to 2 hours underground. It felt pretty dazing coming out again!
If you’re feeling up for it after all that, there is also the opportunity to zipline around the park outside the mine.