Travel

Day tripping from Bogota to Zipaquirá’s salt cathedral

Bogota is rough around the edges certainly, I think Plaza de Bolivar would sigh if it were to speak, after all the things that it has seen. However, La Candelaria district is a place to be. Lovely cafes, museums and cobbled streets make it an enjoyable place for travellers to spend time and money.

I do know people who’ve been robbed in this capital as barrios surround the centre so it is still worth being careful. It isn’t quite in the same league as Quito in terms of danger, but still.

The city has a good transport system called the Transmilenio bus system which makes it easy to get around.

The famous Museo del Oro (gold museum) is heralded as the best museum in South America, not that there is that much in the way of competition but it is very good. I think the fact that it displays gold instead of bits of old rocks probably gives it an edge over some of the others. 

Some of this gold is in the form of tunjos (offerings) that were thrown into Laguna de Guatavita. Apparently, pure gold cannot be carbon-dated unless it contains other elements but I’m sure science will change this. Either way, take your sunglasses and prepare to be dazzled.

I went on a day trip to Zipaquira where there is the Catedral de Sal which is a Roman Catholic Cathedral built out of salt underground. It is reachable via two buses, one to portal del Notre and then onwards to Zipaquira. Apparently, it has no bishop so is not officially a cathedral at all.

It exists in the Halite salt mines and the old cathedral was built for miners as they would not surprisingly would pray for protection. The new cathedral was built in the 1990s. 

I have visited the famous Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland but this one was different, it was much bigger, more intriguing and darker which is true for South America in general compared to Europe. 

The tour guide took a shine to me and wanted to go out afterwards. He went to great pains to explain all the salty facts to me when we were underground. As the single lone female on the tour, he took the opportunity that he felt that it presented – that I needed a man.

I ummed and ahhed over his proposition but really I wanted to get back to Bogota before dark. I also didn’t really know Zipaquira or the tram schedules so it was less risky to give it a miss. I went back to the hostel to plot the next stop on my trip.

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