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Guatavita Lake: A Legendary Day Trip from Bogota

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Guatavita Lake is a unique place, and a great day trip from Bogota. Many tourists come here each day to take a look at a lake that is not only beautiful, but also has a great history behind it.

From old rituals to greedy Europeans looking for gold, if this lake could talk it would keep you entertained for hours!

So here is everything you need to known about visiting Guatavita Lake. Let's dive right in!

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Where is Guatavita Lake?

Guatavita Lake is locatedin the Cordillera Oriental of the Colombian Andes in the municipality of Sesquilé in the province of Almeidas. It is 57 km (35 miles) northeast of the city of Bogotá, which is what makes it such a popular day trip.

where is lake guatavita

Lake Guatavita is located a couple of hours north east of Bogota.

How to Get to Lake Guatavita from Bogota

Guatavita Lake can be a challenge for travelers, since it isn't exactly next to Bogota. Regardless of how you move around, you need to consider the time invested. The good thing is that there's a way for everyone to get here.

Renting a Car to Visit Guatavita Lake

We personally think that the absolute best way to get Lake Guatavita is by renting a car. We went by public transportation, and while it did save us money, it took a lot more time. Additionally, renting a car allows you to visit other attractions in the area, and the visit at your own pace.

If you rent a car, you'll need to find Autopista Norte and stay here for around one hour. Take the exit towards Sesquilé/ Gachancipa. After 15 minutes, turn left right after La Hornilla Paradero (a stop spot for big trucks). Then right away turn right. This path will lead you to the main entrance of the park.

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How to Get to Lake Guatavita from Bogota in Public Transportation

For those of you who don't feel comfortable driving, or are on a bit of a tighter budget, you can opt for taking public transportation. Let us tell you that this is not a hard trip. However, it is a long one (between 2 & 1/2 to 3 hours each way!). You need to first go to Portal Norte terminal. We were staying in La Candelaria so we hopped on the bus B74, that takes you straight there.

Once you get to Portal Norte, simply find a bus that goes to Guatavita. This bus isn't part of any networks like TransMilenio, so it may be a bit harder to find it than others. This second ride takes 1 & 1/2 hours.

Guatavita Town to Guatavita Lake

As you're getting close to your destination, you have two options. If you're visiting during the weekend, you can get dropped off in Guatavita town and catch a bus that goes to the lagoon. Guatavita as a town is very pretty, so you can take some time to walk around and enjoy the view of Embalse San Rafael, a lake that's just nearby it.

On the other hand, if you're visiting during the week, those buses just don't run at all. In that case, ask the driver to drop you off at Puente Carros Sesquile, which is way before town. Here you'll find the entrance to the path that leads to Guatavita Lake. It's a 7 km road, so you may want to try to hitchhike if you don't want to walk for over one hour.

Want to book your transportation in advance?

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Taking a Tour to Guatavita Lake

If you don't want the hassle of going on your own, but also don't want the responsibility of driving, the final option is to take a tour from Bogota to Guatavita Lake. This is great because it also typically involves a combination with another activity in the area, many times which is the Zipaquira Salt Cathedral.

Here are a few great excursions you can take, that also include other activities in the area!

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Upon Entrance to Guatavita Lake

FINALLY! You've arrived to Guatavita Lake, yay! Except... you need to go on a walking tour to get there. They run every half hour and last around 1 & 1/2 hours.

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If you want to visit this place just to see the lagoon, unfortunately you can't do that. Since there's an altitude change (from 2.900 to 3.100 meters over the sea level), they only allow people to walk through the path with a tour guide. Spoiler alert, you won't see the lagoon until the tour is one hour in.

Laguna de Guatavita sign

Food & Beverage at Guatavita Lake

Unfortunately, food isn't allowed inside the park, so the only food you can get here is before or after the tour. At the entrance you will find one small place that sells basic stuff like empanadas or arepas (all fried food).

Our strongest recommendation is to eat something before going in. Your options will be very limited if you rely on the place, and they aren't the healthiest either.

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The Tour of Guatavita Lake

Double check at the reception for tours in English if you don't speak Spanish. They usually only offer them in Spanish, due to the fact that most visitors are locals. However, you may get lucky to have a guide who does speak English for certain tours. 

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The tour consists of a mix of history and culture. You will walk along a path while being told about the flora and fauna of the place. At the same time, you will pass by some iconic spots where the tour guide will explain you the history behind them. Also they will tell about the ceremonies that were performed back in the day, before the Spanish invaded.

Laguna de Guatavita trail

The Viewpoints of Guatavita Lake

After one hour of walking, stopping and hiking, you will arrive to the first viewpoint (there are three of them). Here's where you will be able to appreciate the lagoon for the first time. Heights and general views don't change much from one viewpoint to the other, but the path leads you through all of them so don't worry about going on a detour.

After the final explanation, you will be free to walk around, take pictures with Guatavita Lake in the background or just rest from the hike. The path will lead you into an area where you can get souvenirs and food.

Laguna de Guatavita

Something that we really didn't like is that the path finishes very far from the beginning, forcing you to choose between walking one hour back to the main entrance or having to pay 2.500 cop ($0.60 USD) per person for a van to take you. It seems like the whole thing is planned like this so they can charge everybody.

Whatever option you choose, you will need to go back to the main entrance to drive back your car, hitchhike or just walk your way into the main road.

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To go back to Bogota, there's no shortcut. You will literally have to retrace your steps. Walk (or hitchhike) to get back on the main road. Then hop on any of the buses that go back to Bogota (they will drop you off at Portal Norte), and from here take a bus back to your accommodation.

Laguna Guatavita

Summing Up Guatavita Lake

Here is a quick sum up of the experience of visiting Guatavita Lake.

What to Bring to Guatavita Lake

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Is Guatavita Lake Worth Visiting?

  • If you're traveling for not so long, maybe you should reconsider doing this excursion. Even though the place is beautiful, it does take the whole day so you need to plan if it's worth investing so much time in just one activity.
  • If you're traveling with more people, renting a car is definitely the recommended option. Not only you will save a lot of time, but also money! Public transportation fees add up quickly.

The Tour and Activities Around it

  • You can't walk to the lake by yourself. You have to take a 2 hour tour with a tour guide. This is due to the fact that there's an altitude change so you have to be in company of someone from the park.
  • Guatavita town is a very nice stop. Regardless of how you decide to move around, we recommend you to stop here to enjoy the views of Embalse San Rafael.
  • Another great attraction in the area is the Zipaquira Salt Cathedral, which can be combined if you rent a car or do a tour.
  • If you want to stay up to date with entrance prices and general info, you can also visit the official website of Guatavita lake.
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We really enjoyed the view of Guatavita Lake, but one thing that we noticed is that the amount of time invested in getting there by public transportation isn't worth the visit. So unless you're spending a lot of time in Bogota, or driving a car, we believe Guatavita Lake is a stop you can skip.

However, if you do have a car or have a lot of time in Bogota, then Guatavita Lake is a pretty cool spot to check out for a few hours, and can also be combined with a visit to the Zipaquira Salt Cathedral.

Planning a trip to Colombia? Then make sure to check out all our Colombia travel guides about this beautiful coffee-famous country. Need help planning your trip? Let us help! With our new travel planning services we can help you explore more and spend less. Want to learn how? Take a look at our travel planning services,

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