Hiking Destination Near Bogotá: Chicaque Natural Park
Chicaque Natural Park is a natural reserve located only 30 minutes from Bogotá, Colombia. It is a must-see hiking destination near Bogota that can be easily visited in one day. You can also spend several days in Chicaque if you have time.
The park has a magnificent area of well-preserved cloud forest of the eastern Andes. It offers an incomparable landscape, perfect for hikers and nature lovers.
Hiking, horseback riding, bird watching, camping, and some adventure sports, are some of the activities you can enjoy there.
It is a perfect place to visit with kids or family. The park has several lodging options. You can stay at the hotel, or cabins, or the tree houses. It also offer services of glamping, two camping areas, and restaurant service.
Hiking in Chicaque Park
In Chicaque you will find more than 20 kilometers of ecological trails of different levels of difficulty. These 20 km distribute in 7 trails. Below I will tell you about each trail.
The Eagle’s Peak Trail
The Eagle’s Peak is a natural viewpoint. I has an elevation of 2,290 meters above sea level, on the edge of the Andean Eastern Cordillera.
It is a formation created by a series of rocky detachments of the Peña. From there, you will have an incredible panoramic view of the Tequendama region and the Peñas Blancas mountain range.
You are able to see the towns Santandercito, Mesitas, Anapoima, La Mesa, and Tena. On clear days you can also see the snow-capped mountains of Tolima, Santa Isabel and Ruiz, in the Central Cordillera.
There are high concentrations of carbon in the soils and rocks, for this reason, the rocks are black. Around the peak, air currents formed by the strong temperature changes attracts large birds such as vultures and eagles.
- Level of physical demand: Medium
- Length of the route: Varies according to the chosen path.
- Travel time: Varies according to the chosen path.
El Roquedal Trail
The Roquedal trail is an extension of the trail to the Eagle’s Peak.
Roquedal trail goes through a rocky area with vegetation and formations similar to the Eagle Peak trail. On this trail, you will find vegetation plenty of orchid species and Gaques (Clusia multiflora).
The Gaques are trees with thick, oval leaves that produce a yellow resin. These trees attract different birds species, due to their attractive and nutritious flowers and fruits.
You can find birds such as: Hummingbirds (Trochilidae), Glossy flowerpiercer (Diglossa lafresnayii), Black Flowerpiercer (Diglossa humeralis), Masked Flowerpiercer (Diglossa cyanea), White-sided Flowerpicker (Diglossa albilatera), Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan (Andigena laminirostris), among others.
- Level of physical demand: Strong
- Length from Eagle’s Peak: 667 meters (667 yards)
- Approximate travel time: 25 minutes.
Butterflies trail (Mariposas)
It begins near the Eagle’s Peak, just below La Granja. It runs through the south-western part of Chicaque Park. This trail is notorious for its steep slopes and lush vegetation.
On the trail it is possible to see the beautiful butterflies known as “Alas de Cristal” (Crystal Wings).
- Level of physical demand: Strong
- Length of the route: 1.6 kms.
- Approximate travel time: 1 hour
- Attention: This is the longest route to the Refugio.
Matoño Lagoon Trail
The Matoño Lagoon honors the founder of Chicaque “Manuel Antonio Escobar Lozano”. It is a small body of water fed by spring waters that flow from the lower part of the Eagle’s Peak.
For more than 40 years the lagoon suffered from severe degradation. In 2012, Chicaque acquired the property next to the lagoon. Since then, the natural reserve started the lagoon’s restoration.
Today the lagoon has recovered part of its water mirror, and is visited by birds, and inhabited by small frogs and crabs.
Some wax palm trees grow around the lagoon. Manuel Lozano, the precursor of conservation in Chicaque, planted them more than 120 years ago.
The trail has steep and rocky sections that can be slippery in rainy seasons, so it can be very demanding.
- Level of physical demand: Medium/High
- Aproximate travel time: From the refuge 2.5 hours, from the eagle’s peak 1.5 hours.
Colombian Oak Forest Trail
This is perhaps one of the last oak forests near Bogotá. It is a population of oaks of the species Quercus humboldtii, the colombian oak. This tree is endemic to Colombia and is critically endangered due to habitat loss and timber extraction.
The strength of the oak wood makes it a very desirable tree, it was used in the construction of railroads. These trees can live up to 300 years and can reach up to 30 meters in height.
It is an important tree in the Andean forests. It allows the location of epiphytic plants such as orchids and bromeliads, as well as lichens.
Its flowers are visited by bees (Apis mellifera) and its acorns are food for many mammals of the Andean forest.
Species such as the collared peccary (Pecari tajacu), the white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), the red-tailed squirrel (Sciurus granatensis), the mountain paca (Agouti taczanowskii), the Central American agouti (Dasyprocta punctata), and the pacarana (Dinomys branickii) benefit from it.
Zip-line and Canopy
In the Bosque de Robles trail you will find a zip line activity on an incredible 340-meter-long zip line where you will reach speeds of up to 50 kilometers per hour.
You can also enjoy a canopy activity on a 25-meter (82-foot) tree platform. You can climb it on a rope or a ladder. Once at the top, you will enjoy a extraordinary view.
- Level of physical demand: Moderate
- Length of the route: Approximately 2.5 kms.
- Approximate travel time: 1 hour, starting from the Refuge.
On the trail that leads to the waterfall, you will see two ravines: Chicaque and Velez. This trail has traces past water streams.
This trail was designed to highlight the importance and value of water, which is becoming scarcer every day. This becomes evident when you reach the waterfall.
This waterfall has a drop of approximately 70 meters high, but its flow is very reduced. This is due to a eucalyptus forest that inhabits the upper part of the mountain, outside the park’s boundaries.
Negative Effect of Introduced Species
Eucalyptus trees are foreign species that were irresponsibly introduced into the mountains of the eastern cordillera. They are a living example of the negative effect of introducing foreign species to native ecosystems.
Eucalyptus trees are plants that consume a lot of water, drying the soils and excluding the development of native species of the Andean cloud forests, which are highly dependent on humidity and water.
This is reflected not only in the loss of habitat for native plants, but also for the local fauna, which have to move to other places, since the eucalyptus does not provide shelter or food, as does a Colombian oak or a Gaque.
The stone walls of the waterfall have a high concentration of iron, which gives it a reddish color that contrasts with the intense green of the mosses.
For environmental and safety reasons, visitors are not allowed to bathe in the waterfall.
- Level of physical demand: Hard
- Length of the route: 3.5 kms
- Approximate travel time: 2 hours, starting from the Refugio.
The Colonial Trail
Before colonization, this was a pre-Columbian trail used by the Muisca and Panches Indians. It was used to link the savannah of Bogotá (the land of the Minga) with the Magdalena valley. Later, the Spaniards widened the trail to allow the passage of horses and mules.
The road is built entirely of stone steps. These steps are polished by the passage of dozens of generations over hundreds of years. The colonial trail retains a centuries-old air and is now part of the cloud forest. To walk along it is to return to a distant and peaceful past.
This trail is fragmented into two parts and connects the upper part of Chicaque with the lower part. It begins near the entrance of the park where the steps of the main viewpoint end, and ends near La Playa creek, just 500 meters from the Refuge. It is the shortest route between the entrance and the refuge.
- Level of physical demand: Downhill, medium. Climbing, high.
- Length of the route: 1.5 kms.
- Approximate travel time: 40 minutes.
Where is it located?
Once there, you will find the parking lot, a restaurant and the park’s ticket office. After a short walk from the entrance, you will find with a spectacular viewpoint.
Sometimes the viewpoint gets cloudy, and you get the feeling of being above the clouds.
Recommedations Before Visiting Chicaque Park
- We recommend wearing shoes with grippy soles and ankle protection.
- Bring raincoat, hat, suscreen and insect repelent.
- There is an electric jeep service that takes you from the refuge to the exit. Or, if you prefer, you can return on horseback.
- If you suffer from cardiac or respiratory deficiencies, it is preferable that you do not go on long rides.
- Note that the Park is not responsible for any type of injury or accident you may suffer.
- The money paid for any service taken in the Park is not refundable.
The entrance fee to the park is around 10USD. Lodging has other rates, depending on where you want to stay: hotel, cabins, house tree, glamping or camping.
If you want to plan your trip to Colombia do not hesitate to contact us, visit our Plan your trip page!
- Chicaque Park’s website.
About the author
Current director of Sula. Doctor in Biological Sciences. Her main interests are to explore and understand the organism – environment interactions, taking advantage of emerging knowledge for the management and conservation of species and ecosystem services. She is currently working as a consultant in functional ecology, ecosystem services and conservation projects in Colombia related to ecotourism and birdwatching.