I have been living in Colombia for almost 3.5 years and I had never been to Parque Jaime Duque. Now you’re thinking: parque what? Parque Jaime Duque: the theme park near my home about which I had great prejudices. Not engaging, too massive and only fun for children, to name a few. That while this very park is perfect to indicate how someone gets to my house, namely to turn right at the Taj Mahal and then you automatically come into Sopó. In short: time to go see the inside of the park with my own eyes and find out if there is any truth to those preconceptions. So I boarded the bus with my parents to get off at the Taj Mahal just 15 minutes later. There is literally no visitor, so in no time we are on the other side of the entrance gate. In a weird world where Colombia, history, travel, fairy tales, animals and the whole world come together. Parque Jaime Duque turned out to be a big surprise: so much fun! But… what is there actually to see and do? Join us from Colombia on a trip around the world!
Parque Jaime Duque: something about a pilot, Avianca and international flight routes
In the year 1917, Jaime Duque Grisales was born, the later pilot for whom Parque Jaime Duque is named. Jaime Duque did his pilot training in the United States, before returning to Colombia in 1944 and becoming the very first boss of Avianca’s national pilots. In doing so, he replaced the German and American pilots who had until then undertaken this task. It was also he who introduced and organized the first international flight routes with Avianca between 1949 and 1950. At the time, an overseas flight to Rome took as much as 32 hours.
Jaime Duque meant a lot to Colombian society: he donated a lot of money to hospitals, universities and libraries, among others. He always had the dream of establishing an important cultural and recreational center for Colombians. On February 27, 1983, this dream became a reality and Parque Jaime Duque opened its doors. It is a unique place that was even named one of the 5 best parks in Latin America by the TV channel Discovery Travel. Jaime Duque died in November 2007 at the age of 90.
A special mission
Parque Jaime Duque is a nature reserve that offers visitors an amazing cultural and recreational experience. Playful learning about cultures, and social and biological sciences through museums, monuments and a biopark. It is a nonprofit organization, whose profits are used to support various institutions that work to benefit children and the homeless elderly. Revenue funds environmental education and endangered species protection.
A world tour of culture and nature
The park consists of 5 parts: the monument garden, a cultural passage, the children’s paradise, the Caribbean harbor and the Wakata biopark.
The monument garden
As you enter the park you first walk past several monuments, think replicas of statues from San Agustín, the plane HK-136 on which Jaime Duque made the first international flights and the monument on which the hand of God carries the world. This monument is no less than 38 meters high and has a diameter of 25 meters. This sphere is also considered the symbol of the park.
The cultural passage
The cultural part is a very interesting one. Among other things, you will find a large map of Colombia including many exotic birds. The map has a length of 80 meters, a width of 50 meters and you walk about 10 meters above it. There is also a museum about humanity and the universe, a garden with dinosaurs, a beautiful building where you can admire clothes from all over the world (with dolls) and an activity where you can admire in a boat the story of Ali Baba and the forty robbers from the fairy tale of One Thousand and One Nights (very fun!). If that is not enough you will also find the seven wonders of the ancient world: the Pyramid of Cheops, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the statue of Zeus in Olympia, Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, the Colossus of Rhodes and the Pharos of Alexandria.
The children’s paradise
Parque Jaime Duque is the place to go anyway if you are traveling with children in Colombia, and in the children’s paradise you will find many play equipment, slides and more fun for kids. We skipped this, of course. We did, however, take a picture with the dinosaurs.
The Caribbean port
I found the Caribbean Harbor to be one of the most beautiful parts of the park. Now I really like old ships, but also simply the view and how it is set up I found quite impressive. If there wouldn’t be mountains in the background, it would be as if you were really in the Caribbean. In the port you will find not only exotic animals native to the Caribbean, such as snakes and crocodiles, but also the two impressive ships:
- El Destroyer Córdoba (the destroyer Córdoba): a ship fought with during World War II. The ship was donated to the park by the National Navy, disarmed in Cartagena and transported in parts to Bogotá to reassemble. This whole process took about 10 months.
- A replica of the Bergantín Independiente: the flagship of the national army during the War of Independence. The ship contains seven scenarios showing the most important naval battles fought by Colombia. You can visit the ship inside: very nicely made, informative and with beautiful views.
In addition, you can also kayak there.
The Wakata biopark
Although I am not normally into zoos, this is a surprisingly beautiful park. There are many animal species that live in Colombia, which is not only beautiful to see, but also very educational. It is currently home to some 450 animals divided into 100 species. The park has about 700,000 square meters. So the animals have very much space and the enclosures are really perfectly maintained. Biopark Wakata’s focus is research, education and recreation. It collaborates with universities and for school classes it is very educational. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to make the entire hike up to the condors, so I will definitely go back to see that again!
The Taj Mahal was in India, wasn’t it?
In the monument garden stands the most beautiful building in the entire park, and perhaps in the world: the Taj Mahal. Already seen from afar, this is surely the building you want to see inside and out when you go to Parque Jaime Duque. Unlike the real Taj Mahal in India, there are no thousands of tourists here, so you can admire this magnificent structure at your leisure. It may not be the original, but it is an exact replica (from the outside). You can also admire the inside. Here you will find reproductions of the most important works of classical art, the story of the history of Colombian independence in an imposing oil painting on a canvas 65 meters long and 7 meters high, and on the top floor you will enter a world of insects.
A surprisingly beautiful and interesting park
Not only me, but also my parents were very pleasantly surprised by this park. I didn’t expect it to be so fun and beautiful. The park is well and clearly organized, and what is especially striking is how clean it is and how neatly maintained. Despite having opened back in 1983, it looks like it was from yesterday. Wakata I found really amazingly beautiful and nice for the animals. Lots of greenery, very large enclosures and it really looks perfect. Other zoos can take an example out of that. Another great thing is that the park is only open a few days a week, so the animals get a lot of rest. The park is very informative and you can learn everything about Colombia, from the meaning of the national flag to the national bird the Condor. Highly recommended!
How to get to Parque Jaime Duque?
From Bogotá: go to Portal Norte by Transmilenio or to Terminal Satelite by cab (there is a bus stop there on the autopista) and take the bus to Sopó or Briceño. Get off in Briceño, walk the last bit to the entrance or transfer to the bus to Zipaquirá and get off in front of the entrance. The drive from Bogotá to Briceño takes about 30 to 45 minutes depending on traffic.
From Zipaquirá: take the bus to Sopó or Briceño and ask the driver to drop you off in front of the entrance to Parque Jaime Duque. This ride takes about 30 minutes.
From Sopó: take the bus to Zipaquirá and get off at the park entrance. The ride takes about 10 to 15 minutes.
As soon as you arrive in Briceño, you see the Taj Mahal towering above everything: impossible to miss that.
Opening hours and costs
Park opening hours vary by month and low and high seasons. It is open at least on weekends and usually on Thursdays and Fridays. The park’s website is very well set up and informative and my advice is to check in advance when it is open. Opening hours, dates and prices are very clearly indicated here.
You can choose from two entrance tickets. The cheapest is 32,000 pesos, the most expensive 42,000 pesos. The difference is in the additional activities you can do with the more expensive ticket, such as the panorama train ride, pony rides and a train ride in the biopark. These services are only available on busy days, such as Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. If you are beyond that, then you can therefore only buy the cheapest ticket. See the link above for more information.
How much time do you need to see everything?
The park is quite large and there is a lot to do. If you want to see everything and also at your leisure, make sure you are there when it opens so you can get as much out of your visit as possible. I myself had a not enough time to see everything so I will definitely go back one day.
What is the best time to visit the park?
Want the whole park to yourself and no queues? Then come off weekends and holidays. Keep in mind that then certain services will not work, such as the little train. So for me, outside the busy days is the best time, but if you come with children who like to use the trains and cars, then the weekend might be better.
Who is the park fun for?
At first glance, the park seems fun only for children, but nothing could be further from the truth. Parque Jaime Duque is really fun for all ages! You can walk quite a bit, the zoo is surprisingly beautiful, and you learn a lot about Colombia and the world. If you are only traveling through Colombia for two weeks then it may not be a good idea to spend an entire day here, but if you have longer time or live in Bogotá then it is definitely recommended to visit. Note that almost everything is in Spanish only.
Looking for another fun day trip from Bogotá? Or are you with children in Colombia? Then Parque Jaime Duque is definitely a very fun, beautiful and interesting option!