Salt Cathedral Zipaquira, Bogota-Old mine converted into church - eNidhi India Travel Blog

Salt Cathedral Zipaquira, Bogota-Old mine converted into church

Salt Cathedral in Zipaquira is one of the popular day trip attractions from Bogota, Colombia. This post shares details from my visit to this underground cave converted into a cathedral.
As I was scouting for day trip destinations that can be accessed using public transportation, Zipaquira Salt Cathedral seemed to be the only destination which could be easily reached using train. Zipaquira is bit far from Bogota city- 50kms-not possible to reach using city buses. Tour operators easily charge around 100-120 USD per person for the trip (and single user supplement if you are just alone). I wasn't keen to spend so much, so I set out to reach Zipaquira on my own using public transportation, not buying any day trip tour packages.

Reaching Zipaquira Salt Cathedral by public transport
There is a train to Zipaquira from Bogota. Train starts from a station known as Estacion Tren De Usaquen. I reached here via bus from my hostel early in the morning- at around 8 AM

From here I had to buy a return ticket, which cost me 66000 COP or about 20 USD.
On the train I had to spend another 66000 COP- this is for entry ticket to the Salt Cathedral + Bus service till entry point from train station. Some 58000 COP for entry, rest, approx 8000 for bus.

The cathedral entrance is about 1.5 kms from train station as per maps, so I was contemplating if I should walk and save on the bus fare, but given the train timings I felt like going for the bus option- it proved to be a good decision because after we came out of the cathedral, bus took us to a lunch place several kms away and our return train was from this spot and not where I had got down in the morning. If I was on my own I would have missed the train waiting in wrong station.

How was the train?
Very nice. Bright red seats, nice scenery outside. There was a music band practicing in the coach as well. Tourists felt like they were welcomed with music.

Journey lasted for about two hours- that makes it about 20-25 km per hour avg speed.

Bus to Salt Cathedral entrance:
We were guided to a particular bus based on the band on our hand- which was issued with the ticket. Few other passengers had a different band- couldn't figure out what is the difference in the two groups. Bus took us to the entrance of Salt Cathedral and we were asked to return in about 90 minutes.

Visiting the Salt Cathedral:
People are allowed in groups- of about 10-15 people each, accompanied by an employee/guide who will explain the history and significance of various spots inside the salt cathedral. Unfortunately the explanation is in Spanish. No English batch was available. You can buy an audio guide though.

I tagged along the group for a few minutes but then I wasn't able to make head or tail of what our guide was explaining, so I explored the cave on my own, taking photographs of things that interested me.

The cave in which salt cathedral is located goes about 200 meters deep from the surface. It is located on a hill. Cave is illuminated with lights and ventilation to support tourists. There is a souvenir shop deep inside. Take a look at the photos:

There were several deep trenches or quarries, originally used to extract minerals and now placed with a cross. Most of these can only be seen from a distance. Salt deposits in these hills are said to have been formed 250 million years ago. It was originally submerged under ocean but was raised along with Andes Mountain range some 66 million years ago.

View of the Zipaquira town from the hill under which salt cathedral is located.
This illuminated lighting at the entrance shows flags of several countries one after another- Indian flag included.

Lunch: As I came out of the salt cathedral ahead of time, I scouted around for something to eat. Got a small size vegetarian pizza for about 21000 COP or 7 USD which sounded reasonable. It was good enough to quench my hunger.

Currency conversion can be done here, the rate offered was reasonable.

Return to Bogota:
We boarded the same bus in which we had come, we were driven across town to another city and were dropped in front of a restaurant. This was bit overpriced so I didn't buy anything there, as I already had a pizza. Walked around the town, got 3 small mangos for 500 COP and feasted on them. Spent some time around in the town- had a park and a church before boarding the train back to Bogota city.

Buses had this extra fitting- looked like air supply system to maintain pressure.

Points to note while visiting Cathedral De Sal:
  • Pay special attention to train timings and from where it departs. If you miss it you might get stuck
  • Some tour operators include visit to nearby villages such as Nemocon and Guatavita 
  • Expect more crowd on Sundays
The trip cost me about 50 USD- including train ticket, shuttle bus, entry fee and lunch- one third of what a package tour would have caused.

I reached Bogota by about 5 PM in the evening.

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