Discover the Scenic Route from Bogota to Santa Marta: A Journey Through Hidden Gems and Charming Towns of Colombia
A Scenic Route from Bogota to Santa Marta: The Ultimate Travel Guide
If you’re planning a trip from Bogota to Santa Marta, you may already be familiar with the typical route that goes through La Vega-Villeta-Guaduas-Honda and then La Ruta del Sol. However, there’s an alternative option that offers a more scenic route and a chance to visit many beautiful towns and hidden gems in Colombia.
This route takes you through the Cundinamarca, Boyacá, and Santander departments, allowing you to explore amazing places like Farallones de Sutatausa, Ráquira and Villa de Leyva towns, charming Barichara cobblestone town, San Gil with its adventure spots, Bucaramanga, and finally taking the Ruta del Sol up to the Caribbean coast in Santa Marta.
The journey begins
In this article, we will guide you through the lesser-known but incredible route to get from Bogota to Santa Marta. We’ll provide you with all the necessary information, including transportation options, recommended stops, and insider tips to help you make the most of your journey.
Is this route safe to take?
Colombia is no longer what it was thirty years ago, and one of the best things about this is that you can now travel safely to many parts of the country that were once dangerous.
This is why so many parts of the country still remain to be undiscovered areas and hidden gems. Not so many tourists still know about the existence of this specific route, wich can be travelled safely from start to finish.
Let yourself be amazed by this truly scenic route that will take you from Bogota to the Caribbean coast, passing through many beautiful landscapes, charming towns, friendly people, and stunning nature.
When it comes to transportation options for your journey from Bogota to Santa Marta, you have several choices depending on your budget and preferences. Here are some of the most popular options:
Renting a car: Renting a car is a great option if you’re looking for more flexibility and independence during your trip. There are several car rental companies available in Bogota, and you can choose from a wide range of vehicles, including compact cars, SUVs, and more.
However, keep in mind that the road conditions in some areas might be challenging, especially if you’re not used to driving in Colombia. It’s recommended to plan your route in advance and hire a GPS or a professional driver to guide you.
Taking a private tour: If you prefer a more organized and hassle-free trip, you can consider taking a private tour. There are several tour companies available in Bogota that offer guided tours to Santa Marta and other destinations in Colombia.
A private tour is an excellent option if you want to learn more about the history, culture, and traditions of the places you visit. Plus, you’ll have a professional guide and driver who will take care of all the logistics and ensure your safety.
Using public transportation: Using public transportation is the most affordable option. You can take a bus from Bogota to Santa Marta, keep in mind that the journey can take up to 20 hours overall, but the buses are nice and comfortable. If you choose this option, make sure to bring snacks, water, and other essentials for long trips between destinations.
As this route hide lots of precious gems, the best way to make it is to travel from a destination to another one, tipically no more than 3 hours apart each one.
Regardless of the transportation option you choose, it’s important to prioritize your safety and comfort during the journey. The road conditions in some areas can be challenging, so it’s recommended to hire a professional driver or a tour guide to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip.
Starting from Bogota and exploring its attractions
Bogota is not only the capital city of Colombia but also the heart of the country. It’s a city with a rich history, a vibrant culture, and a bustling economy. The best way to start your journey to Santa Marta is by flying into Bogota’s El Dorado International Airport, which is one of the busiest airports in South America. From there, you can rent a car, take the bus or hire a private driver to take you on the scenic route to Santa Marta.
If you prefer to start your journey from the city center, you can take a taxi or a bus to reach the starting point of the alternative route. However, keep in mind that Bogota is a big city, and the traffic can be chaotic at times. Therefore, it’s recommended to plan your route in advance and avoid rush hour if possible.
Once you’re in Bogota, you can explore the city’s many attractions, such as the historic La Candelaria neighborhood, the iconic Monserrate mountain, the Gold Museum, and more. Don’t miss the chance to try some of the delicious local cuisine, such as the famous Colombian empanadas or the hearty ajiaco soup. Overall, Bogota is a fascinating city that offers a unique blend of modernity and tradition, and it’s an excellent starting point for your journey to Santa Marta.
First step: Farallones de Sutatausa, a wonder in nature
Farallones de Sutatausa is a natural formation located in the Cundinamarca department, about 80 km away from Bogota. This beautiful mountain is a hidden gem in Colombia, and it’s a perfect stop for nature lovers and adventure seekers. The place covers an area of about 1,800 hectares and features impressive rock formations, waterfalls, and hiking trails.
One of the main attractions of Farallones de Sutatausa are their high peaks, which are one of the highest in Colombia (due to climate change, water can only be seen on rainy seasons), with a height of about 590 meters. You can take a hiking trail to reach the waterfall and enjoy the beautiful scenery along the way. The trail is not too difficult, but it’s recommended to wear comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water.
In addition, Farallones de Sutatausa has several other hiking trails that offer breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and the Ubaté valley. You can also go rock climbing and rappelling in the reserve, which is a popular activity among adventure seekers.
Farallones de Sutatausa is a must-visit destination for anyone who loves nature and adventure. The reserve’s stunning rock formations and hiking trails will leave you in awe and create unforgettable memories of your journey from Bogota to Santa Marta.
Ráquira is a charming small town located in the Boyacá department, approximately 150 km away from Bogota. This town is known for its vibrant and colorful pottery and handicrafts, which you can see in the many artisan shops and markets around the town. Ráquira is a perfect stop for those interested in culture, arts, and crafts.
The town has a rich history and culture, which you can explore by visiting the local museums and historical sites, such as the Santa Barbara Church, which dates back to the 17th century. You can also take a stroll through the town’s colorful streets and enjoy the lively atmosphere.
Villa de Leyva, on the other hand, is a colonial town located in the Boyacá department, about 160 km away from Bogota. This town is a well-preserved example of colonial architecture, with cobblestone streets, whitewashed houses, and a beautiful central plaza surrounded by restaurants and cafes.
Villa de Leyva is a popular destination for tourists, who come to enjoy its peaceful atmosphere, beautiful architecture, and stunning surroundings. There are several attractions in the town, including the Antonio Nariño Museum, which is dedicated to the life and work of one of Colombia’s most important historical figures, and the Paleontological Museum, which displays fossils from the region.
One of the most popular activities in Villa de Leyva is hiking in the surrounding hills and mountains, which offer breathtaking views of the town and its surroundings.
You can also visit nearby natural attractions, such as the Iguaque National Park or the Pozos Azules, a series of blue-colored ponds that are a unique natural wonder.
Ráquira and Villa de Leyva are two charming and picturesque towns that offer a glimpse into Colombia’s rich history, culture, and architecture. A visit to these towns is a must for anyone interested in exploring the cultural and historical diversity of Colombia.
Barichara and its charm
Barichara is a charming and peaceful town located in the Santander department, approximately 120 km away from Bucaramanga. The town is known for its well-preserved colonial architecture, beautiful cobblestone streets, and stunning views of the surrounding mountains. The town’s peaceful atmosphere and picturesque streets make it a perfect destination for a relaxing walk or a romantic getaway.
In Barichara, you can also try some delicious local food, such as the famous “pepitoria,” a traditional dish made of beef, rice, and vegetables, or the “mazamorra,” a dessert made of corn and milk. The town has several restaurants and cafes that offer a variety of local and international dishes.
If you’re a nature lover, you can take a hike to the nearby “Camino Real,” an ancient trail that connects Barichara with Guane, another colonial town located approximately 6 km away. The trail offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, as well as opportunities to observe local flora and fauna.
Barichara is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Colombia, especially for those interested in history, culture, and architecture.
San Gil: The adventure capital of Colombia
San Gil is a small town located in the Santander department, approximately 45 km away from Barichara. The town is known as the adventure capital of Colombia, offering a wide range of adrenaline-pumping activities for adventure seekers.
One of the most popular activities in San Gil is white-water rafting on the Rio Fonce or Rio Suarez. Both rivers offer different levels of difficulty, ranging from easy rapids for beginners to challenging ones for experienced rafters. You can also try canyoning, which involves descending waterfalls and natural pools using ropes and other equipment.
If you’re looking for something even more daring, you can try bungee jumping or paragliding. Both activities offer stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, as well as an unforgettable rush of adrenaline.
For those who prefer less extreme activities, San Gil has several hiking trails and natural pools where you can swim and relax. You can also visit the nearby “Cascadas de Juan Curi,” a series of waterfalls surrounded by lush vegetation and wildlife.
Bucaramanga: The city of parks
Bucaramanga is a bustling city located in the Santander department, often referred to as the “City of Parks” due to its many green spaces. It’s a great place to take a break from the road and immerse yourself in urban entertainment.
You can explore the city’s numerous museums, galleries, and cultural centers, taste some of the delicious local food, or enjoy a vibrant nightlife scene. The city is also known for its friendly locals, who are always ready to welcome visitors with open arms. Don’t miss the opportunity to experience Bucaramanga’s unique charm before continuing your journey to Santa Marta.
Getting to the "Ruta del Sol"
The Ruta del Sol is a popular highway that spans from beyond Bucaramanga to the Caribbean coast. The route is known for its picturesque scenery and breathtaking landscapes, making it a must-see for anyone traveling to the region. As you drive along the highway, you’ll be treated to stunning views of the mountains, the rivers, and the sea.
The highway is not well-maintained, making it a bit challenging for drivers to navigate. Along the way, you’ll find plenty of stops where you can take a break, relax, and enjoy the scenery. Some of the most popular stops along the Ruta del Sol include beautiful beaches, national parks, and historic towns. Whether you’re looking for adventure, relaxation, or culture, the Ruta del Sol has something for everyone.
Santa Marta: A stunning final destination
Santa Marta is a lively coastal city located in the Magdalena department, on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. It’s a hub of cultural and historical significance, with a plethora of things to see and do. The city is home to several pristine beaches, including Playa Blanca and Rodadero, where visitors can indulge in sunbathing, swimming, and water sports.
Apart from the beaches, Santa Marta is also known for its vibrant nightlife, with numerous bars, clubs, and restaurants to choose from. You can also explore the historic center of Santa Marta, which features colonial architecture, museums, and cultural landmarks, such as the Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino and the Cathedral of Santa Marta.
One of the most popular attractions in Santa Marta is the Tayrona National Natural Park, which boasts stunning beaches, mangroves, coral reefs, and rainforest. The park is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including monkeys, toucans, and jaguars. Visitors can hike through the park, swim in the ocean, or relax on the beach.
Another attraction worth visiting in Santa Marta is the Ciudad Perdida, also known as the Lost City. It’s an archaeological site that dates back to the 9th century and was rediscovered in the 1970s. Visitors can take a guided trek through the jungle to reach the site, where they can see the ruins of an ancient city and learn about the history of the region.
Lastly, the Sierra Nevada mountain range is another attraction in Santa Marta that should not be missed. The mountains are considered sacred by the indigenous people of the region and are home to several indigenous communities. Visitors can hike through the mountains, visit the communities, and learn about the traditional ways of life.
All of the above are must-known destinations travelling around Colombia
The alternative route from Bogota to Santa Marta via Cundinamarca, Boyacá, and Santander departments is a scenic and adventurous journey. This route provides an opportunity to explore some of Colombia’s hidden gems, such as Farallones de Sutatausa, Ráquira, Villa de Leyva, Barichara, San Gil, Bucaramanga, and more.
However, keep in mind that this route may take more time and effort than the usual route, so plan accordingly. Hiring a professional driver or tour guide is recommended to ensure your safety and maximize your experience. We hope this article has been useful and wish you a wonderful trip!
Frequently asked questions about the route
Tips for Planning Your Adventure on the Scenic Route from Bogota to Santa Marta
Decide on your mode of transportation: The route from Bogota to Santa Marta is approximately 930 km, and there are several ways to travel. You can rent a car, take a bus, or hire a private driver. Consider the pros and cons of each option before deciding which one is best for you.
Research your stops: Along the way, there are many interesting towns and landmarks to visit, so research your options and decide which ones you want to see. Some popular stops include Farallones de Sutatausa, Villa de Leyva, Barichara, and Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona.
Pack appropriately: The weather along the route can vary greatly, so make sure to pack for a range of temperatures and conditions. Comfortable clothing, hiking shoes, sunscreen, and insect repellent are all essential items to bring.
Be prepared for the road conditions: The route can be challenging at times, with winding roads and steep hills. Make sure your vehicle is in good condition, and be prepared for slow traffic at some points.
Stay safe: As with any adventure, safety should be a top priority. Be cautious when driving or hiking, and avoid traveling alone at night. Keep your valuables out of sight, and be aware of your surroundings at all times.
Bosque Escondido lifestyle blog author. Self-taught, rural entrepreneur, farmer, digital marketer, cook, and so many other things that generate a lot of passion in me.
Deja un comentario