Colombia still amazes me. Just a few weeks ago, when Jimmy and I drove out of Bogotá in search of peace and nature. We drive and drive, first on paved roads, then on dirt roads. According to navigation, we are getting close. I don’t see anything yet. The weather is beautiful today. Completely clear, with an occasional white cloud against the blue sky. We are now riding at 3,000 meters of altitude, but the sun makes it warm outside. On the navigation I see that we are approaching the lake. For a long time I have wanted to visit this unknown place. That lake that nobody talks about and where almost no hotel can be found. On the steep sandy path we make a turn and suddenly I see it. My mouth falls open in amazement: this I didn’t expect. Out of nowhere, a veritable paradise emerges. I want to get out of the car right away. This must be captured on camera, or no one will believe it. Take a look with us at this Colombian natural wonder: welcome to Lake Neusa.
Lake Neusa, or Embalse de Neusa, is located about 70 kilometers north of Bogotá, near Zipaquirá and can be reached from the city in about 1.5 hours. The natural park is located at an altitude of 3,000 meters in the Andes Mountains. Because of this high altitude, you will find an average temperature of 10 degrees Celsius. However, on a sunny day with little wind, it can easily reach 20 degrees as well.
Like Embalse de Tominé near the village of Guatavita, Embalse de Neusa is a reservoir used to regulate water in and around Bogotá. The first purpose of building the dam was to generate electricity for the surrounding communities. A few years later, the lake was also used to supply water to Bogotá, Zipaquirá and other neighboring municipalities.
Flora and fauna
The nature park is home to many birds, including hummingbirds, woodpeckers, blackbirds, doves and owls. The total park covers an area of 3,700 hectares, consisting of forests that include pine trees and eucalyptus. In the lake swim several species of fish, including trout. Trout is also the local specialty (as in many Colombian villages) and you can fish it from the water yourself.
Neusa: a place to rest
Although Lake Neusa is not yet a major attraction, we do find at the lake many Bogotans who come here to spend their weekend. There are a few parking spaces around the water and also a restaurant. Swimming in the lake is not allowed and probably not desirable. After all, at such an altitude, the water is freezing cold. To continue along the dirt road to the water, we must first pay the entrance fee to the park: 5,000 pesos per person (€1.50; July 2016). You may also camp and barbecue, if you want that you have to pay a little more. We continued our way into the park, on to the water.
In the middle of nature: getting stuck with the car
Once we arrived at the water, we drove down a very narrow path to the grass. We already see many Colombians parked as well, who have entire tents and barbecues set out. We decide to drive to a quiet spot. Along the way we see a kind of bridge made of wood. It didn’t seem like a good idea to drive over that with our low car, but Jimmy thought otherwise and drove us right into the mud. Fortunately, there was a gentleman with a larger wagon and a tow, who pulled us out of the mud. At the end of the day, of course, we had to go back over that “little bridge,” and then the exact same thing happened: stuck in the mud again. Our car has been through a lot in Colombia, but being pulled out of a mud puddle was the first time.
A relaxing afternoon
Once in “our” spot, we lay out a rug and have lunch with our homemade bread. I can spend hours looking at the scenery, the shimmering water, the clouds against the blue sky and the beautiful colorful flowers, trees and mountains. It is truly beautiful. I go out with the camera and shoot many pictures of this natural beauty. What a treat this is.
Practical: how to get to Lake Neusa?
Unlike many other beautiful spots around Bogotá, Embalse de Neusa is a bit more difficult to reach. By car from Bogotá is the easiest and fastest way. Want to rent a car or learn more about driving in Colombia? Click here. By bus, it will take a little longer. Because the park is close to Zipaquirá and Ubaté, it is best to take the bus from Bogotá to one of these villages. From there, there are buses to Tausa or Cogua from where you can get to Neusa. Keep in mind that you will have to walk quite a bit, including in the park itself. But of course, with this beauty, that’s no problem!
Just a quick reminder…
Of all the lakes around Bogotá, Neusa might just be the most beautiful. Once again we discovered a new paradise in just one day. I feel blessed to have all this wonderful natural beauty around me. What will be the next natural wonder we will discover?