La Vega – Sopó – Ecotourism and Stories of Faith – Bogota Travel Guide
This route starts on the Bogota-La Calera road. On the way up there are international and typical food restaurants. This is an opportunity to admire the view on the northern area of the capital from one of the most widely known spots: El Mirador. Near there, it stands the police control point, providing security to the area. Here we can also find countryside restaurants, places to hire horses, and discos.
Past the toll, on kilometer 8, the descent starts. A view of San Rafael reservoir, which provides drinking water and electric power to the region, announces our proximity to the town of La Calera. You may stop for a few minutes to admire the view, scattered with country houses, golf clubs, and a rich gastronomic offer.
It is worth pointing out that this area was declared an ecological reserve, and in 2005 it was opened to the public as San Rafael Ecological Park. Now, extreme sports like paragliding can be practiced there. Besides, the locals offer ecological horse rides and hikes around old royal trails. Very near there lie archaeological remains preserved in cave paintings, a legacy from the first dwellers of these lands, nearly 10,000 years ago.
In La Calera you can visit the Townhall house, former residence of Don Pedro de Tovar y Buendi’a, the founder of this town, featuring a beautiful chapel. Around the square and in the market, visitors find the famous arepas and desserts, as well as new wool knitting or bamboo or wood furniture.
Before going on, a visit to some ecological farms like the one in El Encenillo is suggested, to then move on to Sopo. For religious belie vers, Sopo gathers several places for devotion: at Jesus of the Stone sanctuary, the image of the Divine face of Jesus Christ is worshipped. The tradition tells that at La Moya creek, “lavandera” (washer woman) Rosa Nieto found the image of Jesus engraved on a stone, whose shine gave parish priest Raimundo Forero’s eyesight back.
Another church is Divino Salvador church, on the main square, which stands out for its beautiful colonial architecture and its rich religious legacy: 12 paintings of archangels dating back to the 17th century. Besides, this is one of the oldest temples in the savannah. In 1912, Marco Fidel Suarez (the president of Colombia from 1918 to 1921) donated the clock adorning its facade.
For those loving nature, Pionono hill, a natural and ecological park, is an ideal place to watch the vegetation typical of the savannah moors, abundant in frailejon (espeletia grandiflora) and moss, and for walking along beautiful paths surrounded by native bushes. This is a favorite place for paragliding and hang gliding, and a sane tuary for native eagles.
A hike in the ecological park includes stops at the different viewpoints to take in the view to the East offered by Tomine reservoir, whose waters coverthe old town of Guatavita. The reservoir is a frequent setting for water sports like skiing, sailing and canoeing. Very close by, we find the mythical Guatavita lagoon. The legend of El Dorado is associated with a sacred lagoon, where the great chief threw pieces of gold from a raft into the water as an offering to the gods.
To the west we find a plateau, which holds several towns, farms, flower crops and parks like Jaime Duque, planned and design for amusement and ludic education.
The return to Bogota is undertaken by the road leading to Briceno, to take the Northern Central road. Here there is a wide offer of meat and grilled corn on the cob. Besides, this zone is famous for its desserts, its delicious dairy products, masato and almojabana. Do not miss its delicate handcrafts.
This region offers good tourist services, including trips in the traditional colorful buses, popularly known as chivas.
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