Excursions Around Zapatoca

As we spent more time in Zapatoca, we realised how its charm extends beyond the colonial walls throughout the surrounding areas. Our new friend and host, Armando, introduced us to some of his favourite spots, giving us reason to stay longer than we had originally planned.

The Town

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We explored the local haunts, including this mysterious door to the unknown…

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… and we became regulars at “Flor” Panaderia, scoffing down their delicious pasteles con arequipe.

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Old Renaults are the ubiquitous classic car around Zapatoca.

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Just as Jenny tried to capture these interesting eyes, el perro loco snapped and chased after her.

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The rustic dirt calles in the older barrio of San Vincencito

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Some slightly more friendly perros de calle

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The old cementerio (Antiguo Camposanto) has some fascinating gravestones…

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… and crosses.

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Local niños always find new ways to pass the time…

La Reserva Traganubes

Our hosts Armando and Sonia own a little cabin on a plot of land a few km out of town which they have named La Reserva Traganubes (literally ‘swallows clouds’). Beautifully tree covered and rich with plant life, we can see why they plan to move here in a few years if the quiet bustle of Zapatoca turns to busy.

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Reserva Traganubes boosts some great vantage points…

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… rugged terrain…

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… occasional invasions from neighboring cows…

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… and delicious granadillas silvestres (wild passionfruit) growing amongst the pinos.


Armando organised a hike up to the secluded cabin of his friend Mauricio above the town of Betulia. We parked on the outskirts of town and enjoyed a nice tinto with local Juan before starting a hike up the old campesino trails.

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We were joined by EQ and super affectionate Terra (aka Terabyte).

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EQ taking a break to enjoy the view…

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At Mauricio’s cabin, we enjoyed some wild pears, limes, guayaba and granadilla from his garden.

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… some limes for the salad …

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… wild guayaba (guava) …

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Armando took us to his lugar secreto … a bed of pine needles perfect for an afternoon siesta…

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Behind his affectionate demeanor, EQ holds a frightening grill of meat ripping fangs.

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Monstruo de los pinos

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no sleep for Armando

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As the afternoon crept up, we said goodbye to Mauricio’s cabin…

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… and made our descent back to Betulia…

 Pozo Del AhogadoPozo Del Ahogado

Pozo Del Ahogado

We took the bikes down to the local swimming hole. Although the water looks murky, we were told it’s actually caused by the harmless (and possibly helpful) tannins in the river.

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We had a cheeky afternoon dip at el Pozo Del Ahogado just outside town.

Mirador de Zapatoca

We drove up to this popular panoramic lookout for the breathtaking views of the three massive river canyons: Suaraz, Chicamocha and Sogamoso.

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We made a second trip up to the Mirador; our patience finally paid off when the clouds lifted…

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… revealing the confluence of the Chicamocha & Suaraz (right), which feed the Sogamoso (left)

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The raging Sogamoso has carved an impressive canyon.

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It was time to head home, but EQ needed some persuading.

La Cueva Del Nitro

This cave is a massive labyrinth, not for the faint of heart. Armando guided us through one of the less extreme routes, whilst describing some of the more difficult, tiny passages – straight out of this claustrophobe’s nightmares. He also told a tale of some teenagers who had entered the cave a few years ago after sneaking past the official entrance gate. Without any guide or anyone knowing their whereabouts, they ventured deep into the labyrinth with only some candles and matches and got lost. After their candles were gone, they had no way of finding their way out! They remained trapped in darkness for 17 days, surviving on water from the cave walls before they were finally discovered by a local guide (the same guide who they avoided upon entrance).

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For our final adventure in Zapatoca, Armando guided us through the treacherous labyrinth known as Cueva del Nitro…

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… this way to the Spider Lounge… eek!

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EQ gets special service from Armando on the ladders…

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… some of the tunnels are quite small, not so comfortable for the claustrophobic…

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Fortunately, Armando got us back safely.

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