With picturesque lakes, hiking trails, traditional villages, hot springs and swimming pools all within 100km of Bogotá, it’s easy to find something different to do for a weekend out of the city.
People living in Bogotá are spoilt for choice when it comes to places to escape to for a couple of days. As much as we love life in the high Andean city, it’s easy to get tired of the traffic, smog and unpredictable weather.
But there’s lots to do within just a few hours drive from the capital, whether you’re looking for hiking, rock climbing or other outdoor activities, or it’s winding down in hot springs, tucking into a good book and a cold beer or two while relaxing next to a swimming pool that tickles your fancy.
Hot springs eternal
Since living in Japan, I’ve had rather a good relationship with hot springs. Perfect after a long walk or long cycle, perfect before bed, first thing in morning, they’re just perfect. With plenty of volcanoes dotted throughout the many merry mountains, Bogotá is not far at all from bubbling sulphuric pools of satanically good water.
Hot springs in Colombia are known as termales and have plenty of rules surrounding them. Be prepared for busybodies to insist on you wearing bathing caps (yes, really) and moan about you drinking and so forth. Swimsuits will be insisted on in every place under the sun, though you might be able to rent a private pool and get away with actually enjoying the water properly.
Most termales are located in spa-cum-hotel joints, and there’s often only one in a town. They’ll have a few different pools, maybe with some private pools and usually a ghastly swimming pool filled with shrieking kids. You can stay in these, of course, but most also offer day passes and the like for people staying nearby. It’s your choice of course, but few things are better than relaxing in a hot spring while stargazing into a clear sky.
The best thing about hot springs in Colombia is that they invariably come with a spectacular view, even if snow is in short supply. So relax, and get ready for Oli’s deep bath. Relax, but don’t slip under. There are some terrible statistics about that.
Not only famous for Colombia’s best cheese (pipe-a down, costeños (see what I did there?)), the Boyacense town also boasts a clutch of fine resort-spas. Some of them are impossibly pretentious and snobby hotels, but there are more relaxed joints too. The water is always Paipa-ing hot.
Nestled in the Andean flanks halfway to Villavo, Choachí is do-able as a day trip from Bogotá. But, why not think about an overnight stay to enjoy the warmer weather as well as the warmer water? It’s a lot lower than other places, and that means there’s less of a shock when stepping out.
This is the closest you’ll get near to Bogotá for genuinely chilly outside air to contrast with the pleasingly warm water. The hills in Tabio are famously steep and there’s good walking around the area to make your muscles nice and ready for a long soak. Cheaper than others.
These hot springs have the added bonus of being able to coat yourself in mud, if that’s the sort of thing you’re into. It’s on the way to Melgar, or even better, back from Melgar if you’re looking to soak off a hangover.
In this series of quick weekend breaks we highlighted the hot places around Bogotá already. An arts and crafts trip out of Bogotá and a country retreat around the capital will be highlighted in the following days.