Low lying fog over an Andean lagoon

Hiking the Iguaque Lagoon


The drawback to Colombia is that the country is so beautiful that many perfectly lovely areas often get overlooked. The nation's Boyacá Department is one such place. This highland region near to Bogotá has a rich history (it's the site of a turning point in the war for independence), and it's home to time-warp colonial towns like Villa de Leyva and Tunja. Its rugged highland landscapes also make for great excursions, particularly around Iguaque Lagoon, a lake so abounding in natural beauty that it was declared a sanctuary in 1977. 

A six-hour guided hike follows a scenic path through the Andes near Villa de Leyva. From here the trail winds upwards to Iguaque Lagoon, which sits at a whopping 3,800 meters (12,467 feet). This lake has special significance in Colombia: the ancient indigenous Muisca people believed it to be the origin of all life on earth. Standing among the calm banks of its shores, surrounded by all that natural beauty, it is easy to feel the spiritual energy that the Muisca felt.

What's also interesting about this region is that even slight increases in altitude determine the type of vegetation that grows there, so over the course of a single hike folks can see a wide array of fauna. Everything from moss-covered-trees and ferns to pine forests to frailejones plants—which look like a mix of sunflowers and cactus—exist here. If it's a clear day, the 360° views of the Andean lakes and mountains dotted with farms and villages will be unforgettable.

Itineraries with Hiking the Iguaque Lagoon

Colombia's Quintessential Highlights - 14 Days

Perfect for first-timers, this classic Colombia itinerary starts in cosmopolitan Bogotá, ending in charming Cartagena. Visit the salt mines and colonial towns of Barichara and Villa de Leyva, hike the Iguaque Sanctuary, and bike in the Suarez Canal. Once you reach the coast, spend a few days exploring Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona, where you'll encounter white sand beaches, rainforests, and one of the few coral reefs in Colombia.

Bogotá & the Colombian Highlands - 8 Days

With this outdoorsy, yet culturally rich 8-day tour, you'll explore the historic and cosmopolitan side of Bogotá before heading north through the scenic Colombian highlands towards two of the country's most photogenic cobblestoned towns. Here, you’ll visit the underground salt mines, hike the Iguaque Lagoon, bike the Suarez Canyon, and finally explore the Spanish Colonial wonder that is Barichara — oozing with charm — before flying back to the capital's buzzing restaurants and nightlife.