Who considers cycling in a city that still holds the reputation (at least in Europe) of being dangerous and chaotic? When I first verbalized my idea of doing so, many of my friends back in London thought I was insane. Considering they dislike the streets of the our english capital due to the ruthless drivers, I guess I can’t blame them.
But as in any big city, exploring the attractions and neighborhoods by bike provides you with a unique perspective that you cannot get when traveling by bus or foot. Therefore, i am eager to give this little homage to cycling in big cities and I picked my experience in Bogotá as the best example why everyone should leave their fears behind and swing themselves on this great Eco-vehicle.
I only had three days in Bogotá, before my boat to Mexico took off from Cartagena. I have been in Colombia in 2007 and got to know many parts of Colombia back then. However, because I only spent one night in Bogotá, I decided to give this city a chance this time and planned a stay of three days.
Being an absolute cycle fan, I was sure I wanted to do a bike tour in order to see attractions on and off the tourist track that are not reachable on foot. I did some research before and I found a bike tour company in Bogotá. It is a local company –Bogotravel Tours – a family run business. I chose the local operator, because I looked for a colombian perspective and an overall richer experience – and I was not disappointed. I highly recommend this tour to anyone who will visit Bogotá.
We started off with a small group in La Candelaria where the bike shop is located. It is the colonial centre of Bogotá and houses a variety of restaurants, bars, clubs, universities and last but not least around 60 backpacker hostels.
Being in a small group gave us plenty of opportunities to ask questions as well as take photos without being rushed to the next destination which I really appreciated.
Our first stop brought us to an amazing graffiti area where we learned about the spraying and art culture on the walls of Bogotá. We cycled further through the Candelaria, stopped at the oldest plaza of the city and made our way to the political centre – the Plaza Simon Bolivar.
There, Fernando our tour guide explained to us what happened here during the armed conflict and how his family experienced these terrifying events. It was extremely interesting to get such a perspective. Further on, we stopped at the president’s palace where señor Santos is base and took some nice pictures with the traditionally dressed officers that were guarding the gates.
Then on to the “Septima”, a street in the heart of Bogotá that is closed for cars from 10am to 8pm or 6pm on weekends, respectively - what a great concept. We made our way through street vendors, entertainers as well as locals and tourists that were using the vehicle free zone for a stroll. I loved the atmosphere and being on a bike felt like I was part of this fascinating city already.
Next stop was the bullfight arena whose style was inspired by Moroccan architecture. We were able to go inside and have a look around while Fernando brought us the bullfighting culture closer. I didn’t even know it was that popular in Colombia or rather, so controversially discussed.
Slowly we were getting hungry and at the right time after visit the German and English colonial neighborhoods we had a stop in the Parque Nacional were we tried some local delicious food from the grill as well as exotic fruits. Fernando told us about the local customs and types of fruits, their heritage and usage. I saw and tasted fruits I didn’t even know existed.
Further stops on our tour added to my rich experience; we visited a little coffee factory where we had the chance to try delicious Colombian “cafe”. I don’t think I want to drink any other coffee again.
Slowly we made our way back to the office, having taking longer than planned, we were all fully stimulated and happy by all the information Fernando provided and the attractions we saw and local neighborhoods we visited.
I felt like I discovered Bogotá in a new way, with colonial houses, local chats, English Victorian style neighborhoods, the pedestrian dominated Septima, the graffiti culture and much more.
Thanks to the renovated infrastructure, cycling in the “chaotic and dangerous capital of Colombia” was easy and I felt safe at all times. I would not have visited all these places on my own, apart from the fact that it would have been too far on foot.
I loved the tour and being able to hear stories of historical events and the development that Bogotá underwent in recent years from Fernando as a local – first hand – I cannot stress enough how satisfied I was with this tour and how glad I was a I went with Bogotravel tour. Here is their contact for anyone interested:
Adress: Calle 12 F No 2-52
Phone: 57—1 2826313
Movil: 57-313–3680441 (24 hours)
It will be the richest experience you can have in Bogotá – enjoy!!
“Image courtesy of hin255 /FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.