Colombia is rich in waterfalls. Many just along the road or hidden in a beautiful natural area. Like Colombia’s highest waterfall: a natural wonder you only get to after a beautiful hike. Located in a surprisingly beautiful spot just a day trip away from Bogotá. In a nature reserve in the Andes Mountains, where the clouds hang low, hundreds of bird species live and you are dazzled by the bright green nature. I am talking about the La Chorrera waterfall near the village of Choachí, east of Bogotá. Be surprised and go on an adventure in impressive Colombia!
Hiking to La Chorrera: the highest waterfall in Colombia
With it’s 590 meters, La Chorrera is the highest waterfall in Colombia and number six in all of Latin America. It’s a pretty impressive sight when you stand in front of it. In the middle of nature surrounded by forests and clouds. The hike begins at 2450 meters altitude and ends at La Chorrera at 2554 meters altitude. Slipping over large boulders and through the mud you go up and down hills to arrive at this spectacle after about 2 to 2.5 hours.
The 7 stations to waterfall La Chorrera
During the walk you will pass 7 points of which numbers 3 to 7 are the most interesting. All points and the route are clearly marked, so getting lost is impossible. Nice to know that this hiking trail used to be the connecting road between Bogotá and Villavicencio. This road was made in the year 1803.
Station 3: waterfall El Chiflon
Before arriving at La Chorrera, you will first pass a smaller waterfall. The walk here is easy and along beautiful scenery. A nice place where you can walk a trail behind the waterfall before going further into the forest. On weekends, you can also eat here. By the way, in the first photo below you can already see Colombia’s highest waterfall in the distance, very beautiful!
Station 4: Bosque la Niebla (the cloud forest)
Between the El Chiflon and La Chorrera waterfalls, you walk through a beautiful forest where the clouds hang amazingly low. Even so low that some times nothing can be seen at all. The clouds hanging in front of the mountains make this natural area even more beautiful. Real enjoyment.
Viewpoint at La Chorrera, the highest waterfall in Colombia
On the way to the next station, you pass a viewpoint. And honestly? I was incredibly surprised. I was expecting a “small” waterfall, but this was seriously beautiful. Very nice. The waterfall is so high that it is impossible to get it in one photo, even from such a distance. In fact, you don’t even see the point where the water hits the ground. If you want a great view of almost the entire waterfall, this is the place!
Station 7: Cueva de los Monos (the monkey cave)
Before we get to the end point, the highest waterfall, we decide to go to the monkey cave first. Quite a bit of climbing up over slipping rocks and through mud. We actually wanted to stop, but pressed on. And fortunately so, because what a beautiful place! It’s not really a cave, but a giant rock that you walk under. We felt completely out of the civilized world, which is really wonderful. This “cave” also turned out to be the perfect place to take a rest and have a drink and something to eat.
In front of us, the clouds moved quickly by. To the point where there was no view at all, then later some gaps appeared again in the cloud cover. Amazing!
Station 6: the highest waterfall in Colombia.
After the monkey cave, we scrambled back down to the main road, to continue walking to the waterfall it’s all about: La Chorrera! We walk for at least another half hour on large rocks and slippery paths. It’s wet and it smells great. As we get closer, we hear the water thundering down louder and louder. And then suddenly we are in front of the waterfall. Impressive! We only see a small part, of course. Because (a) there are clouds and b) from this close up, a 600-meter-high waterfall cannot be seen full.
We nestle on the wet boulders for a while to enjoy this place before starting our way back. Delicious!
The return route is much faster where you walk part of a shortened route. It took us 45 minutes to get back in at the entrance.
How to get to waterfall La Chorrera in Choachí?
The village of Choachí, which includes La Chorrera and thermal baths, is located east of Bogotá.
As with almost everything, it is easier by car than by bus. If you have rented a car make sure you have navigation and take the Bogotá – Choachí road towards La Chorrera. This is the road that begins at Monserrate. Along the road are signs indicating where to turn left. Once you get off the main road you come to an unpaved road, you drive down this for 4.5km until you reach the park. There you park, pay and continue on foot.
If you come by bus leave early. To find the bus to Choachí, you must go to the Terminal Transoriente. This one is near La Candelaria, but in an unsafe neighborhood. You can easily walk it, but be careful not to show valuables (including your phone) and memorize the route. It makes a difference that there is a police station around the corner, but the park you pass isn’t safe either. So don’t stop, it’s not a place to just sit and look around.
Safer is to catch a cab or bus to this station. Not staying in La Candelaria or don’t want to take the risk? You can use the transmilenio to Tercer Milenio, there it is around the corner.
Once at this bus station look for the bus to Choachí. Two bus companies go there frequently: Transoriente and Cootransfómeque. Important: say CLEARLY that you want to get out at Cascada La Chorrera. If you don’t say this then you end up in Choachí and have to go back a long way. There is no bus stop, just a little road to the left at a corner. There is clearly a sign to the falls. From here follow the signs and it’s another 50 to 60 minutes (4.5km) walk through beautiful scenery.
On the way back, return to the main road and stop a bus going to Bogotá. If the bus is full, it does not stop. So it’s better not to go back during rush hour to make sure you arrive before dark. Of course, you can also spend a night in Choachí. Termales de Santa Monica for example, is great for resting. Or choose another stay in or around the village.
An organized tour
No desire or time to visit the falls independently? You can also take an organized tour to the La Chorrera waterfalls. Namely via the link.
What time to visit?
Especially if you go by bus: go early! You first spend about 1.5 hours getting there and then you have to walk to the park entrance. Then, of course, it really begins and you are still about 2 hours on the way to the highest waterfall of Colombia. And then you also have to go back…. Once you get to the main road you have to wait for a bus and that can take a while. And you probably want to be back in Bogotá before dark. If you leave around 7 or 8 in the morning, then you can be sure you’ll have plenty of time.
Best travel time
La Chorrera is a rainy area and you will find the “cloud forest” for a reason. The chances of having no or little sun are high, especially during the rainy season. It is a wet and adventurous destination. So having said that, it doesn’t matter that much in what month you go, but the day you go does. The park is a popular destination for Bogotans. At weekends, on holidays and during vacations the place is busy. Want to have the park to yourself like we had (there was literally no one there but us) and avoid mass tourism? Then come during the week, off vacations and off holidays.
What to bring
As mentioned, the chances of wet weather are quite high. Especially outside the dry season. The path you hike consists mostly of large boulders, except for a few sandy paths. Which are also slippery when wet. It’s not a particularly easy hike, so good walking shoes are recommended. Don’t forget your rain gear either, and a rain cover for your bag can also be quite handy. Also bring water and a snack for on the road. In the park you can have lunch (also vegetarian).
It is not an easy hike, but not very difficult either. Average, in other words. Definitely not suitable for people with mobility problems. In addition, the park is located at an altitude of almost 2,500 meters and there are some pretty steep sections. That makes it a little tougher. Preferably do this hike when you are already a bit accustomed to the altitude after arriving in Colombia.
What else is there to do in the park?
In addition to this hike, you can also abseil and camp in this park. Abseiling is available on weekdays only from 10 people and by reservation. On weekends, you do not need to arrange this in advance. Abseiling costs 30,000 peso per person. If in doubt, call first in advance. Find all the information here.
Cost, guide and walking time
The entrance fee is a minimum of 40,000 pesos per person. Here you will find an overview of all entrance fees. You don’t need a guide, but you can book one if you want.
We took 3 hours to do the entire hike. If you come by bus you will walk at least 50 minutes extra for this hike and then 50 minutes back to the main road. I would imagine that in that case, you could possibly walk only up to the viewpoint on the waterfall and not the entire trail. Or skip the monkey cave, as that is also quite a tough climb. And maybe you won’t suffer from anything and it will all go very easily!
What a fantastic day trip from Bogotá! Really a great hike. Like being alone on earth. Highly recommended!
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