East of Bogotá you will find one of Colombia’s most famous national parks: Chingaza. A natural wonder where you can enjoy páramo at its most beautiful. This extraordinary high-altitude ecosystem (above 3,200 meters) is a great place to hike in Colombia. Although very well known, this national park is not much visited by foreign travelers. That while this ecosystem is found in very few places in the world. In this article you will read all about the hike to Lagunas de Buitrago in the Piedras Gordas area. To do during a day trip from Bogotá. Do you also love nature, hiking through unique landscapes and traveling off the beaten path? Then Chingaza is for you!
Chingaza National Park | Lagunas de Buitrago
Chingaza is very large and there are dozens of trails to walk. After we did the hike in Chingaza to the amazing Lagunas de Siecha we chose a different route this time. Namely, the hike to Lagunas de Buitrago in the section called Piedras Gordas. Unlike Lagunas de Siecha, Piedras Gordas has several routes to walk, some of which are accessible only with a guide. The route to Lagunas de Buitrago is our second in Chingaza and again extremely beautiful!
Up in the clouds through páramo
It is an overcast and cold day, but those clouds just add a wonderful extra to this nature reserve. Clouds hanging in front of tall mountains I always find so beautiful to look at. Throughout the hike, the clouds hang low. As we go higher and higher. We enjoy the beautiful views immensely and we even see a deer.
Soon we are walking among the thousands of frailejones. And how beautiful they are again. Small big: everything is beautiful. So special to walk among this unique plant species. Also all alone, because apart from us there is literally no one. The road runs uphill and is quite tough. It is cold and the higher we go the windier it gets. In the distance we see tall mountains rising above the frailejones, so beautiful.
Eating pancakes at Lagunas de Buitrago
After about two hours of hiking, we see in the distance the small lakes in front of the high rock. Wonderful! We walk down a bit and decide to have lunch by the lakes. Beforehand, I baked pancakes: they are not only delicious, but more importantly, they give a lot of energy. Be sure to bring energy-rich food yourself during this hike. You cannot buy anything here and you will need it along the way.
Alone in the world in Chingaza Colombia National Park
Still we have the whole route to ourselves and that feeling of freedom is really fantastic. We look around and see only mountains, water, páramo and clouds. So much beautiful nature, such a large area. For a moment it seems like we are alone in this world.
The clouds seem to be getting darker and darker, but fortunately it is still dry. In the distance it seems to be raining and those dark clouds so low above us give a beautiful effect. It smells so good here and the air is so wonderfully fresh. Although we walk back the same way, the hike looks very different in reverse. And so we also enjoy beautiful views on the way back.
How beautiful Chingaza is!
The second hike in Chingaza and certainly not the last. How incredibly beautiful it is. Each time enjoying the fantastic Colombian nature. Are you in the area and want to hike off the beaten path in Colombia through unique páramo? Go to Chingaza!
Practical information: visit Lagunas de Buitrago in Chingaza National Park
There are many trails to walk in Chingaza. Click here for general information about Chingaza National Park. Want to walk a different route? For directions to Lagunas de Siecha click here.
How to get to Laguna de Buitrago in Chingaza?
Like all entrances to Chingaza National Park, this one is not easy to reach. Indeed, you can’t get there by public transportation. Not surprisingly, this national park is often skipped. But really it’s worth it! The best thing to do is to rent a car (the road is not paved, but reasonably good), to join an organized tour or arrange a cab that will also wait for you at the entrance for the way back.
The entrance to the Piedras Gordas area, which includes Lagunas de Buitrago, is through La Calera. La Calera is the first village as you leave Bogotá in the northeast. Coming from Bogotá, you drive through La Calera until you reach a roadblock to an abandoned industrial park (a special place by the way, a real ghost village) and the vereda Buenos Aires. There are signs indicating Chingaza. Make sure you have navigation so you take the right road to the right or ask someone. From the industrial park, it is a 22-kilometer drive to the Piedras Gordas entrance in Chingaza.
Other hikes from Piedras Gordas
You can do several hikes from this entrance, but if you want to do more than one in one day you have to arrive very early. Some hikes require a guide. The walks are:
- Sendero a las Cuchillas de Siecha
- Sendero Laguna Seca
- Monterredondo sendero Suasie
- Sendero Las Plantas del Camino-Laguna de Chingaza
You can find more information at the visitor center.
The walk: practical tips
The hike to Lagunas de Buitrago is very doable. There are no very steep sections, but you do walk up. You start at 3200 meters altitude and go up to 3500 meters. So the ascent is not huge, but you are at a high altitude. If you’re just arriving in Bogotá, it’s helpful to spend a few nights acclimating before starting this. The trail is easy to walk, but not for those with mobility problems.
Hike in good walking shoes (we have high hiking boots ourselves) and don’t forget your raincoat. Chingaza is a rainy area and chances of having a little rain are high. Do you come in the dry season then you have the best chances for good weather, in the rainy season you can expect more rain, mud trails and cold. We did this hike in the dry season and had only clouds and occasional drops of rain. Bring a warm sweater anyway, as it is chilly. Especially when the sun disappears and it’s windy.
Also bring your sunglasses, a cap and sunscreen. Even when it is cloudy you burn quickly and the sky is very bright.
Bring plenty of food and drink, this is not available there and the start of the hike is in the middle of nowhere: there are no restaurants nearby. Of course, do not throw away trash in nature, but take everything back with you.
Duration and mileage
Be at the visitor center before noon, after that you won’t be allowed in. The hike is almost 6 kilometers long and takes about 3 hours. Depending on how fast you walk, of course. You walk the same way back as out, so no round trip. The hike is easy to follow.
Do you need a guide?
No. But an organized tour can make it easier for you, especially if you want to do the hike on a day trip from Bogotá and don’t have your own car. Click here for an organized tour to Chingaza,
The visitor center
The visitor center is right by the parking lot. Here you will find a ticket office where you pay for your ticket after which you will be shown a video of the area and the hike. There are restrooms in the visitor center. Better bring your own toilet paper. You can’t get anything to eat or drink there (at the time of writing), so take something with you. The hike begins directly from the visitor center.
Foreign travelers without resident visas to Colombia pay 62,000 pesos entrance fee (2023). Do you do have a visa or a Colombian passport? Then you pay 19,500 pesos per person. Click here for current prices for Chingaza.
How and where to arrange
Throughout Chingaza National Park, there is a restriction on the number of visitors per day. Exactly how many is unclear. Do you go on a weekday outside the vacations? Then it is likely that you will not need to make reservations in advance. We were on a Thursday and there was literally no one there, but we had made reservations in advance.
Since it is quite a long way to the entrance of the hike, I would advise you do make reservations in advance so you can be sure to get in. Make reservations here:
Atención al Usuario de Parques Nacionales Naturales
Parque Nacional Natural Chingaza
Calle 74 No. 11 – 81, piso 1, Bogotá
PBX (57 1) 353 2400 Ext. 3011, 3012
: Monday – Friday 8:00AM to 12:00PM and 2:00PM to 5:00PM
Saturdays 8:00AM to 12:00PM
Write in Spanish and clearly state which hike you want to do. You will be given a number to show at the visitor center.
Day trip from Bogotá or stay in the region?
Hiking in Colombia from Bogotá? Chingaza National Park is highly recommended for nature lovers and travelers looking to get off the beaten track.
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