Sugamuxi, the region who has it all - Colombia
With the direct bus from Bogota I went towards Sogamoso, the largest city in the region Sugamuxi, department of Boyacá.
Sogamoso is the central point in this region, numerous excursions from here can be done. I made a daytrip to Mongui, described as the prettiest village in Boyaca, listed as a „Pueblo Patrimonio“ in Colombia. This lovely colonial village radiates a unique peace, especially on the central plaza with ist beautiful basilica.
In the streets of Mongui,
you can see balls everywhere – soccerballs, basketballs or volleyballs are manufactured in this village; in fact there are 15 ( smaller and larger) fabrics. There even is a statue dedicated to the ball, and a small festival is taking place in august, the „Feria del Balón“.
I walked to the 300 year old famous stonebridge, built by Spanish colonists, which gave me a nice view over a beautiful creek. Just to let you know: because of the altitude (2.900 m) it's colder here! Good that I took an extra jacket. Visiting Mongui was like stepping back in time.
Only 3 hours walk from Mongui there is a national park called Páramo Ocetá. Unbelievably beautiful views over green extensive valleys in different variations with beautiful Frailejon plants which are very typical for this region. In the park there was a sort of rock formation that looked like a stone village, very impressive. This tour lasts 8 hours in total, a guide took 30.000 cop / pp (> 3 persons), 40.000 cop / pp (2 pers.), 80.000 cop / pp (1 pers.). I took my own picnic.
I came to great discovery that there is wine produced in Colombia, partly in Valle del Cauca (a good wine from this region is Giajales) and Sante Fe Antioquia but the best quality you can find in Nobsa, only 7 km from Sogamoso. The Colombian scientist Dr. Marco Quijano Rico started his winery after a long career in the coffee production and life in Europe for many years. Everyone thought he was crazy but he proved that wine can grow in Colombia and produced the 1st tropical cru "Marques de Puntalarga". My favourite was the white wine "Corales" (bottle costs 40.000 cop; Tropical World's Finest Wine). Video in Spanish here.
You also have here a wonderful panoramic view over the valley. As a tourist you can get an explanation about the whole wine process and you can do some wine tasting (+ french kitchen). You can choose how many pesos you pay them for the winetasting. Open from 9am - 8pm during the week. Since 1989, every weekend in december, there is a celebration in Puntalarga: "The Welcome Party at the Vine in the Valley of the Sun" and the election of the Wine-Queen.
My visit to the largest lake in Colombia, "Lake Tota" which is important for the Muisca culture, was really rewarding. In summer (Dec, Jan, Feb) you can sunbath and chill on the white beach "Playa Blanca" and swim in the blue-colored water. I took a bus in Sogamosa and I had to switch buses in Aquintania (not so pretty village) to go to the beach. Horse riding costs 35.000 cop / pp for a day trip; with a lancha (small boat) you could visit the island "Isla de San Pedro“. They will drop you off on one side and pick you up on the other (= 65.000 cop / lancha: max 10 people). You can walk to the top of the mountain and follow the many crucifixes to have a fantastic view over the lake. Activities such as kayaking, diving or fishing can be done here. I saw „Cebolla“ (onion) fields all over and have been told that in some periods there is a strong onion odor in this region (how funny).
What makes this regio very convenient for travelers are the small distances between the villages, so you can visit several villages in a short time. Each village has its very special and unique charme.
Sogamoso - Aquitania = 19km
Sogamoso - Iza = 15km
Sogamoso - Paipa = 38km
Sogamoso - Tibasosa = 7km
Sogamoso - Nobsa = 7km
Well, ... I could continue to tell you more about this region that bulges from its activities. Since I have not told you about the fantastic "Salto de Candelas” and the thermales in Iza & Paipa and the largest Muisca museum in Colombia “Temple del Sol“, .... A trip to Los Llanos can be very interesting too! (Sogamoso-Yopal = 5hrs, Yopal-Los Llanos = 3.5 hrs.).
Bogota – Sogamoso: From the central terminal = 4hrs, from the terminal in the north (= just a street in front of centro comercial and not a real terminal) = 3hrs, ticket = 23.000 per person from both terminals).
Mongui – Sogamoso: Bus @ terminal Sogamoso, 1 hour, ticket = 4.000 cop / pp.
Marques de Puntalarga = Bus Duitama, excursions in Punta Larga, 10 minutes walk up the mountain. Km. 7 autopista Duitama – Belencito.
Sogamoso - Lago Tota = 4.000 cop / pp, 30 min.
1:! Mongui is not the same as Mongua. These are two different villages, only 6 km apart. Because of my accent, I took the wrong bus… yes it is… grrr…
2: A good restaurant? This very picturesque cozy restaurant "Salvajem Amistoso" in Tibasosa is an absolute must. Try "Lomo Ancho the res. 35 kg“ and „Frutos silvestres“ (30.500 cop) or "Cuchuco the trigo" (5.500 cop).
3: The roads between Sogamoso and Mongui for example can be rough.
4: The second largest lake in Colombia's = Lago de Concha in the southern department of Nariño.