Mount Monserrate, Bogota Must visit, Colombia

Monserrate hill or Mount Monserrate is a must visit place when in Colombia's capital city, Bogota.

Monserrate hill offers splendid view of the Bogota city on one side and super thick amazon forest on the other side. Monserrate has a church on top, a restaurant and several shops & eateries. Monserrate is a sacred hill with historic importance. Its top is about 10000 ft above sea level and the hill is named on another hill with same name located in Spain. (Colombia was Spain colony before independence). Spain rulers reportedly suppressed religious practice of native colombians and started imposing christian beliefs- they built a church on top of Monserrate. Since 1600 AD the spot has been visited for religious purposes and in recent times it has also got popular as tourist attraction due to magnificent view of Bogota Monserrate offers.

Reaching Monserrate hill starting point in Bogota
Monserrate hill starting point- which is cable car or funicular station is about 2 kms from city centre- La Candelaria or Santa Fe area. You can reach La Candelaria using numerous public transport option and from here, either walk till Funicular station or take taxi. Buses are also available but you've to figure out from where etc.

Going to top of Monserrate Hill in Bogota
Once at the foot of the Monserrate hill, you have 3 options:
Cable car: This was closed during my visit, but you can check if it is functioning when you visit. Costs around 7 USD per person for round trip, lesser on Sunday

Option 2: Funicular
Funicular is a train like structure that is pulled up and down the hill using a pulley on a fixed train like track. Ticket price is similar to Cable car.


Pro tip: You might face language difficulty trying to explain to ticket counter staff if you need one way ticket or return, adult or children, one person or two etc. Refer the display, prepare exact change, use a translator app or google translator to convert your requirement (like 2 adult, 1 child, return) in Spanish and keep it ready. Getting wrong ticket would mean more expenditure later.

Once you have your ticket follow staff instructions to cable car/funicular ride to top

Option 3: Hike
I wasn't aware of this option else would have tried. There were not enough information as to where the trail begins and if it is open. Else at least for return journey I would have tried and saved a few dollars in the process. You can ask around for hiking trail and walk up the hill or take cable car/funicular for going up and then walk down.

Hiking means you've to effectively climb up some 400 meters. Hiking is free but there're timings- You can't begin your hike after 1 PM and you need to begin your return hike before 4 PM. Trail closed on Tuesdays. No fees, typically takes over an hour to go up.

What to see/do once on top of Mount Monserrate, Bogota
1. Visit the church, main attraction on the Monserrate Hill.

2. View Bogota Town
Most of downtown Bogota is visible from top of Monserrate. If you have a binocular even better- you might be able to spot your hotel building etc. Enjoy the view, get some pictures taken



3. Shopping
There're a few dozen shops selling souvenirs, few shops selling food. I could get some baked potato and corn cobs to eat (vegetarian items). Fruits are also sold. But cheaper to have your food in Bogota city, than here on top of the Monserrate hill.

4. View the amazon forest on the other side
Colombia is on the northern tip of South America. The great amazon forest range starts from here. The other side of Monserrate was thick forest. I thought I had a pic but not able to locate- will update if I can.

5. View landscapes, statues

Facilities:
  • Drinking water is available for purchase
  • Rest rooms are available but chargeable
  • Sit and relax on church entrance, not too much space
Special Note: Visiting Mount Monserrate on a Sunday
Cable car and funicular rides are lot cheaper on Sunday. But Sunday is when the hill gets maximum crowd due to church and its Sunday Mass. Longer waiting for tickets, longer waiting for cable car/funicular etc. So if you would like to explore the hill with less crowd around, it might be good idea to avoid going there on a Sunday. If you're keen to save a few dollars and don't mind the extra crowd, plan for Sunday

Joy ride on these cute animals- Llama were on offer near the ticket counter.

Due to its elevation, weather on top of Monserrate can be different from Bogota city below and change even more rapidly. Go prepared.

Also see: Bogota street art * Is it safe to visit Colombia now?

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