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Guatavita Colombia: the white village risen from water

by Sabine
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Many travelers in Colombia are eager to visit the famous Laguna de Guatavita: a mini lake at a 1.5-hour drive from Bogotá. A lake that has a legend attached to it and is therefore particularly popular. While everyone drives straight through to this hot-spot, the neighboring village of Guatavita is often skipped. Unjustified. I myself have been to Guatavita many times, which is ideal for escaping the big city for a day, a weekend, or even just for lunch. Read on and discover the beauty of the first white village you encounter from Bogotá to the north.

Guatavita: the religious capital of the Muisca

The cute village of Guatavita is considered the religious capital of the Muisca. It has about 2,000 inhabitants and, like Bogotá, is located at an altitude of 2,600 meters in the Andes Mountains. Despite being known as one of the tourist attractions around Bogotá, the village is busy only on weekends and on holidays and vacations. The beautiful architecture, cute little squares, beautiful views, clean skies, tranquility and delicious food make this one of my favorite villages.


From old to new Guatavita Colombia

Actually, this is quite an interesting story, as there are two Guatavitas: the old and the new one. Ancient Guatavita was founded in 1593 and now lies at the bottom of the adjacent lake Embalse de Tominé. In fact, the site of the old village was thought by the municipality to be perfect to use as a reservoir. Therefore, they flooded this village in 1967. In 1964 the new Guatavita was built higher on the mountain, to which the population moved in 1967.


The new village is built in the same colonial style as the old one, with the characteristic white houses with red roofs. The old village is located at the bottom of the southern part of the lake. When the water level is low, the ruins can still be seen. I have yet to experience that, by the way. Today’s Guatavita is a wonderfully beautiful village and a delight to wander around.


Embalse de Tominé

The lake, also called the Guatavita reservoir, provides beautiful views, hiking trails and water sports opportunities. Embalse de Tominé is 18 kilometers long and 4 kilometers wide, with a deepest point of 38 meters.

The reservoir is part of the water system around Bogotá and has a capacity of 690 million cubic meters of water. A quantity of great importance to the environment, including for drinking water. The lake is also used to pump water from the Bogotá River during the rainy months to prevent flooding and to generate electricity. Embalse de Tominé is often confused with Laguna de Guatavita.


In addition to its functions for the environment, the lake also offers all kinds of water sports: you will find several water sport clubs where you can sail or surf.


From Guatavita you can walk to the lake, where you can hike through the hills. Horseback riding tours are also available.


Typical Colombian souvenirs

Want to buy something typically Colombian? For that, too, you can go to Guatavita. In particular, you will find many ponchos and cute knits here. Already several times I bought a poncho here and gave it to someone back home. Hearty fun! You can also enjoy lunch and desserts here. Typical from Guatavita is cheese with sweetness, and as in several small Colombian villages: trout. By the way, want to know more about the poncho? Read all about the typical Colombian ruana here.

Will you be in Guatavita on the weekend? Then check out Mafe Hadad. A sweet little woman who knits her own clothes. Both for children and adults. The clothes are so beautiful and cute, I’ve often bought something there to take back to Holland as gifts. Here you will find Mafe Hadad in Guatavita.


Practical: how to get to Guatavita?

You’ll find Guatavita 75 kilometers northeast of Bogotá, which is about a 1.5-hour drive. It is particularly easy to reach by bus. In Bogotá, go to the small bus station Portal del Norte, from where buses to Guatavita depart regularly. The ride costs no more than a few euros, which you pay on the bus. The bus stops in the middle of Guatavita, so you can’t miss it. Because Guatavita is so close and only a small village, you can easily go here alone for a few hours. Ideal as a day trip from Bogotá. If you also want to continue to Laguna de Guatvita, you have to count a few extra hours.


Stays in Guatavita

Although Guatavita is great to visit on a day trip from Bogotá, the area lends itself perfectly to a few days away. You can hike, camp, eat good food with beautiful views and visit surrounding villages. I myself have been to Guatavita dozens of times and it never bores! Find your hotel here:


Are you in Bogotá or in transit to Villa de Leyva? Then be sure not to skip a visit to this beautiful village!

For more inspiration for traveling off the beaten path in Colombia, click here!


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