After two blissful weeks on the island paradise Providence we flew down to Bogota. Like most people I’d heard a few horror stories about safety in Bogota but it wasn’t all bad and I did enjoy the city of Bogota but likewise I was happy to get out of there after 3 days. We had the most amazing hostel in Bogota called Masaya where we luckily nabbed an actual room (not a dorm) with a king sized bed which was a bloody dream after so long! The hostel had a really nice vibe to it, lots of social areas, a great included breakfast and activities each night if you wanted to join in.
Like every big city there was a walking tour on offer and we thought it would be a good introduction to the city. The tour started in La Candaleria square and they took us to a nearby bar to try a drink called chicha which is a drink made from corn. From there we went to a local market, a coca cafe to try the tea and then to the government buildings, presidential palace and ended up at a great cafe for an amazing coffee. I’d done a lot of walking tours in South America and got a little sick of them but this one was actually worth doing.
Spot street art
There is a huge amount of street art all over Bogota, there were some amazing pieces around the La Candaleria area which is where I saw most of these.
Drink good coffee at Cafe Union
It had been a really long time since I’d had a good coffee and Cafe Union delivered. Although Colombia is famous for its coffee, unfortunately it exports most of its beans so the stuff that is left really isn’t great. Luckily being in a city means cafes which also means decent coffee.
Walk around La Candelaria
This is the safest area of Bogota as it is where most tourists stay. There are police men on every corner and it is where most tourists would stay due to hostels being located here. But what really makes this place special is the beautiful Spanish colonial buildings that line the streets. Bright and bold colours make this part of town colourful and a real pleasure to stroll around.
Drink coca tea at altitude
Bogota is 2,600m above sea level so it pays to have some of the local coca tea to help with the altitude. Although I never suffered from altitude sickness throughout Bolivia and Peru it’s always good to drink some tea to help out.
I am a big fan of the show Narcos so it was great to spot locations from the series whilst in Bogota. Below are buildings from the square where the M19 raided the government building with bulldozers to destroy evidence against Escobar. The streets of La Candaleria were also often used for filming so it all looks so familiar.
Eat the best vegan food
Right next door to the Masaya hostel is the most amazing restaurant serving up some of the best food I had in Colombia. It is a vegetarian/vegan restaurant called Nativo and not only was it some of the best food it was ridiculously cheap. A lunch meal which consisted of a smoothie, pumpkin soup, quinoa salad and vegetables wrap with a coconut banana desert for £2.50! I can’t recommend this place enough for quality and price of food.
This mountain towers over the sprawling city of Bogota and is a great place to get some real perspective on this vast city. You can get up to the top of the mountain via funicular. The weather in Bogota wasn’t great the whole time we were there so the view was cloudy and incredibly grey. It began to cloud over once we got to the top so we didn’t stay long.
The city looked sprawling, smoggy but surprisingly no high rise buildings.
We had got an uber from the hostel to here but coming back was a little more challenging as there was just a bunch of dodgy taxi drivers. At first he was OK but then when it was time to pay he wouldn’t accept certain notes and starting fishing around for more money.
Colombian cooking class
One of the nightly activities at Masaya Hostel in Bogota was a Colombian cooking course. I was definitely interested in what Colombian food would be on offer so I signed up. The chef was a local who showed us how to cook a traditional Bogota meal which consisted of kasava, plantain, potatoes, chicken and beef in a red pepper and onion sauce. It was all super fried and meaty so not exactly my taste in food but it was a fun night. I really enjoyed the kasava and fried plantain though.
Safety in Bogota
It is worth mentioning that we stayed in the La Candaleria district in Bogota, it is the near all of the historical sites and attractions and every corner is manned by a police officer with a rottweiler so in theory I should have felt safe. It was definitely a tense place and I didn’t feel hugely unsafe but I certainly didn’t feel safe and at ease walking around. I wouldn’t take my phone out because the one time I did 5 guys on bikes surrounded me pretty quickly. One evening a knife did get pulled on us but the guy was fairly unthreatening and there was 4 of us and 1 of him so it was never going to happen. We swiftly told one of the nearby police officers in our terrible Spanish and just carried on. I didn’t enjoy walking around after dark as I did feel genuinely unsafe. We had one incident with a taxi driver trying to rip us off and saw someone running after a bike covered in blood where they just been mugged so it’s definitely a place where you need to be aware of whats going on around you.