Hiking in Colombia is great. Enjoy beautiful views and extraordinary ecosystems. Among the most popular places to hike in Colombia are the Valley of Cocora and Ciudad Perdida. The hike that left the most impression on me was, of course, in Los Nevados. And also the hike from Barichara to Guane I found fantastic. But in addition to the well-known spots for hiking in Colombia, you can also hike off the beaten path. In places where hardly anyone comes, enjoy unique vistas, away from mass tourism. For this you don’t have to drive or fly for hours first, but can just do it in the surroundings of Bogotá. We found a guide in the region of Sisga, who took us on a 10-kilometer hike to the top of a mountain. With an amazing view of Lake Sisga. Go off the beaten path and discover Colombia!
Embalse de Sisga: that beautiful view on the way to Villa de Leyva
If you travel through Colombia and catch the bus to the north, such as Villa de Leyva or Lago de Tota, then you find yourself enjoying the beautiful view of Lake Sisga from the bus. The iconic bridge you drive over gives you a glimpse of Colombia off the beaten path. However, few travelers actually stop at Lake Sisga. A reservoir, also called embalse, to regulate water in Cundinamarca. In the surroundings of this lake you can do great hiking or relax in one of the waterfront hotels. Or visit cute villages. We drove up a dirt road to arrive 5 kilometers later at a small hut where the guide was waiting for us.
A tough hike up
With two more hikers from Bogotá, Juaco and our guide with his dog, we began the 10-kilometer walk. From the starting point at 2700 meters altitude to the top of the mountain at 3000 meters and back again. The hike begins on the dirt road that passes abandoned farms, but after half an hour we turn off into the forest. The route is totally deserted, we meet no one for hours. We keep walking uphill among the fragrant pine trees. In fact, we have no idea where to go, until the guide points to the top of the mountain right in front of us: that top over there, that’s where we’re going! The hike is pretty tough uphill and it gets even steeper. But the more we go up in altitude the more beautiful the views become.
Reached the top: impressive views of Sisga and the surrounding area
When we arrive at the summit after a tough hike, we have to put our hands in front of our eyes. The guide says that makes the experience even more awesome. So we shuffle to the edge of the mountain and reopen our eyes at the same time. Wow! Suddenly we are high above the lake and see the path below us where we were just walking. The lake turns out to be much larger than you would think as you drive by it. The area is totally deserted. Only some dirt roads, the blue lake and a few farms color the landscape. There at the summit, we enjoy the view and well-deserved arepas we brought with us, for a while. Juaco also lays down to recharge for the way back down. How amzing is hiking in Colombia!
Downhill, the path turns out to be even more spectacular
On the way up, of course, you mainly look ahead rather than back. And the road looks very different from when you go back. Gosh, how beautiful! Suddenly we see how steep the trail is and how beautiful the views are on the trail. Resulting in beautiful pictures. So the fact that you walk the same way back again does not matter at all, as the experience is quite different. Enjoying those views. The lake ahead, the clouds hanging so low, the green mountains in the distance. It was well worth the tough hike up: I wouldn’t have wanted to miss this.
Hiking in Colombia? Go off the beaten path!
Off the beaten path in Colombia, you will find so many beautiful gems. We previously did long hikes in Cundinamarca, each one beautiful. Take a little longer to explore Bogotá’s surroundings or take a day trip from the city: there is so much beauty to see and do! For example, do you want to camp in Colombia? You can do that here too. Or visit villages where no tourist comes. How about Machetá? Read all about how to get here and how to arrange these hikes below. Have fun!
Senderos del Sisga: go into nature with a guide
If you go hiking in Colombia off the beaten path, a guide is often recommended. Someone who knows the area, knows the way and knows where it is safe. At Lake Sisga, there is an organization called Senderos del Sisga. They organize all kinds of things, such as hikes, mountain biking, horseback rides and you can visit a bird garden. Their website has all the information, including prices and all the activities.
The hike we did cost 25,000 pesos per person (€7; January 2019) and took about 4 hours. The guide knew a lot about the area and the route, very nice.
- no English is spoken at Senderos del Sisga. Don’t speak Spanish? Then it becomes some hand and foot work, but is not a problem. At least you have a guide with you who knows the route and you can learn some new words of Spanish right away.
- Don’t go to Senderos del Sisga without a reservation. You have to pass checkpoints for the nature reserve and without a reservation this becomes difficult. Besides, you don’t know if a guide is available when you just show up. So please call or app to make a reservation. If you don’t speak Spanish, you can ask your hotel to do this for you.
How do you get to the starting point of the hike?
Getting to the bridge over Lake Sisga is easy, you just get off the bus there as it passes by. But getting to Senderos del Sisga is a bit trickier. If you want to rent a car in Colombia it’s no problem: with navigation and your own transportation (no paved road) you’ll get there easily.
If you don’t have your own transportation, it’s best to arrange a cab in Machetá or Chocontá. If you are staying there have a cab called by your hotel, for example. Going on a day trip? Then take the bus to Chocontá and arrange a cab there. You can also ask Senderos del Sisga in advance if they know someone who can pick you up in the village for a fee.
Staying at Lake Sisga
Senderos del Sisga also has a campground. It is really beautifully located with beautiful views and far from busy roads. Camping at Sisga costs 40,000 pesos per tent, so you must bring your own. They have breakfast and options for barbecuing there. Read more information here.
Around Sisga, there are many places to stay overnight. Not only in the villages of Machetá and Chocontá, such as Termales Los Volcanes, but also in beautiful hotels along the lake (look here for hotels) or further around Machetá. In addition, villages such as Suesca and Guatavita are a just around the corner, where you can also stay overnight. Look here or find your hotel on the map (zoom out to see all the hotels):
How to combine Sisga with your itinerary Colombia?
If you are eager to get to know Cundinamarca, you can easily spend 5 days near Sisga. For example in Sopó, from where public transportation is good. Or Suesca, a little more remote. Also Machetá is very nice to stay. In the area you will find, for example, the salt mine of Nemocon, rock climbing or hiking in Suesca, the white village of Guatavita, paragliding and more fun in Sopó and the white village of Cucunubá. Take a look here for an overview of what to do in and around Sopó.
If you are traveling from Bogotá to your next destinatoin up north, Sisga is ideal. Indeed, this is on the route to Villa de Leyva, Tota and more north Barichara and San Gil. In Chocontá, you can take the bus or stop along the road. So too, you can easily return to Bogotá to continue traveling through Colombia from there.
Discover Colombia in a different way: go off the beaten path!
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