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The beauty of Tequendama Falls (Salto del Tequendama in Spanish) is that it’s only actually a simple half day trip from Bogotá, and for the ease of it, Tequendama Falls made it into our list of best day-trips & weekend breaks from Colombia’s capital. This place is dripped in legend as the site from which the native Muísca people jumped to their deaths to escape Spanish slavery (and in indigenous folklore were turned into eagles to be able to fly to freedom), and its reputation for suicide by modern Bogotanos continues today.
Before we get into the nitty gritty details of the day, check out our video of our time at Salto del Tequendama here (p.s. please don’t laugh too hard, this was our first ever video):
Ok ok, you laughed, didn’t you? 😉
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Firstly, why should you visit Salto del Tequendama?
Well, if the images we’ve shown you so far don’t quite get the point across, Salto del Tequendama is a pretty damn epic waterfall. Its levels of cascading mean you can get lost watching the water hit different points. On a misty day, it’s even more enchanting. The Hotel del Salto that hovers on a cliff’s edge next to the waterfall only adds to the mysterious feel of the place. And besides, it’s a really easy, cheap way to diversify your stay in Bogotá amidst all the greyness of the city centre.
What’s Hotel del Salto?
Hotel del Salto (not to be confused with Hotel Tequendama, a fully functioning 5* hotel in the city centre) is an iconic part of Tequendama Falls. It’s the only proper brick building you’ll see for miles around Hotel del Salto and has not faltered in its stunning romantic style. It was originally built in 1928 and became a place for rich Bogotanos to take a break from the city.
Historically, Hotel del Salto was pink, but as part of its ongoing restoration (which apparently is being partially funded by the French government?!) it has now been painted white. It sits right on the edge of Salto del Tequendama, so the views are second to none.
So can I stay at the hotel at Salto del Tequendama?
Sorry, it’s a no. Hotel del Salto has not been operating as a hotel for decades, but you can still go in to explore. Inside is a museum which is open to the public on weekends. Entry costs 9000 COP and the tour (which is in Spanish) goes through a lot of the preservation work they’ve been doing around the area. Hotel del Salto is said to have had ghost sightings in the past, but the tour unfortunately doesn’t touch much on that!
If you really love the paranormal, don’t miss the new ghost tour in the city centre of Bogotá which explores the haunted sites of La Candelaria (with a beer!). You can book a place on the tour here.
Does Tequendama Falls smell?
A little, depending on the day. It is amongst the most contaminated rivers in the world, after all.
Fun fact: the reason Tequendama Fall’s Hotel del Salto closed half a century ago was because the smell from the river (which carries much of Bogotá’s sewage) got too overpowering. You’ll be glad to hear that efforts are now being made to clean up said river, and while there was a horrible smell in the surrounding countryside during the journey, the Salto del Tequendama itself didn’t smell at all when we visited.
Is there anywhere to eat nearby?
Depending on how many photos you tend to take, and how long you wish to spend admiring the view, you probably won’t need to stay at Salto del Tequendama for that long. There are plenty of typical grills with baked goods to chill out in for half an hour or so – we recommend the café tinto with panela (unrefined sugar cane). Take a few thousand pesos in cash and get yourself a snack with a view 🙂
What’s the best time to visit Salto del Tequendama?
The day you go to Salto del Tequendama depends on whether you want to go inside the supposedly-haunted Hotel del Salto – this is only open on weekends. If you’re just there for the view, take a trip down on a weekday and enjoy the place pretty much to yourself. The viewing platform is all open at all times with no entrance restrictions or fees, so time of day doesn’t matter.
In terms of the best month to visit Salto del Tequendama, any month except December, apparently. A single internet source has reported that the river tends to dry up during this time, but we went during February (at which point we found the water of Tequendama Falls to be very much flowing!) so can’t verify that claim. If Bogotá has experienced some decent rain in the day or 2 leading up to your visit, we imagine it’d be fine in December anyway.
How do I get to Tequendama Falls from Bogotá?
Salto del Tequendama sits some 30km outside of the centre of Bogotá. Now, you can get from central Bogotá to Tequendama Falls via Uber which will cost around 70,000COP each way, but we like a challenge, and instead chose to get to Salto del Tequendama from Bogotá by public bus.
There are two options, the first is for those already central in the city, e.g. in Teusaquillo or Chapinero. The second option is for those already south in the city, such as La Candelaria. Both options take around 2 hours, though you may shave off some time if you don’t need too many Transmilenio changes to reach the start-point of the the second option.
Use the app to work out how to get to San Mateo Transmilenio station from where you’re staying (don’t panic, it’s a good app!)
If you haven’t already got a TransMilenio card, you’ll need to buy one from an official station stall. Top up the card there too (one journey of any distance costs 2,300 pesos in 2019, including changes as long as you don’t exit the barriers. You can buzz more than one person in using the same card)
Find your bus number and make your way down to San Mateo
At San Mateo, cross one of the highway bridges; you’ll come out near a shopping centre
Cross the first two lanes of the highway and stand on the central reservation – you need to flag buses from the far lane
There is no official bus stop, so just wave down any bus going to Mesitas (blue Tequendama or yellow Velosiba companies offer this)
Tell the bus assistant to stop at Salto del Tequendama
We paid 7000 pesos on the way there, and oddly 6000 on the way back. Who knows?!
How do I return to the city from Salto del Tequendama?
When you’re ready to leave Salto del Tequendama to get back to Bogotá, stand on the inner-side of the road and flag down pretty much any bus; they should all be going to the capital. Just tell the driver when you want to get off!
What if I don’t want to travel independently to Salto del Tequendama?
Worry not, there is a very well-rated tour which includes both Salto del Tequendama and a coffee hacienda visit from Bogotá. They’ll pick you up straight from your accommodation and offer an English-speaking guide throughout the 8-hour day trip. Reserve your place on this awesome Salto del Tequendama & hacienda tour here.
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