Founded in 1598, the effervescent capital Bogotá sits on an upland Andean plateau. It’s a city of striking contrasts; skyscrapers and colonial single-storey houses, fast highways and cobbled lanes with chaotic traffic and the occasional mule cart.
There are humble homes clinging to the mountain-sides and affluent tree-lined residential boulevards; crowded alleys and green, wide and shady parks; a cultured middle class jostling with workers and their families from all over Colombia.
The night scene is lively with music clubs, bars and cafés spilling out on to the pavements. You can’t really understand Colombia without a visit to this agreeable city.
Day 1: Plaza de Bolivar is a good starting point for your guided city tour, with its statue or the Liberator, baroque cathedral and a clutch of government buildings. It’s in the heart of the Candalaria district which is the literary and artistic heart of Bogotá with theatres, libraries and universities. Here, many of the the original Spanish colonial buildings with their heavy tiled rooves, wrought iron grills and carved wooden doors have been restored. It’s a pleasure to stroll through the cobbled lanes. On the fringe of this district is the Museo de Oro, one of the best collections of gold artefacts on the continent, beautifully displayed.
Day 2: Just 90mins' drive from Bogotá the little town Zipaquirá’s fame lies in the subterranean salt cathedral - an enormous church built within a mountain at site of a salt mine. This unique place of worship has a magical feel, with high ceilings, carved pillars and huge stone statues. After your visit, you continue to the crater lake Guatavita, was a sacred place for the Muisca indians and is steeped the mythology of El Dorado. The excursion lasts about eight hours.
Day 3: Continue your holiday or transfer to Bogotá airport for your international flight.