Kazakhstan mountains as seen from Almaty's Botanical Gardens.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Bangkok, Thailand.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Not sure!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

20km (13 mile) hike to Colombia's highest waterfall

They say to get an early start if you're going to visit Colombia's highest waterfall, but it was still after 10:00am by the time we found our way to the small bus terminal at the corner of Calle 6 and Carrera 15 beside the police station.

Chorrera waterfall (Cascada de Chorrera) is located off the road leading to the town of Choachi, only about 30 kms (18 miles) from the center of Bogota.

Given that it's so close to Bogota, we can't figure out why more people don't do this hike. I had read reports of some people doing it as part of a group tour (and costing up to $100 USD including transport and lunch)...but of course we're not the type to do it that way.

So after breakfast we walked about 2 kms (1.3 miles) to the small bus terminal. I didn't have great directions and it took us a while to find it including asking two police officers who didn't have a clue even when they were standing only a half a block away from it. They must have been new to the area!

The small buses leave for Choachi as soon as they are full, and at that hour in the morning it doesn't take long. We paid 9,000 pesos ($4.05 CAD) each for the full ride to Choachi, but that was a mistake because we could have said we were getting off at the waterfall road and paid 7,000 pesos ($3.15 CAD).

The bus turned down this busy street!

On this street, it was obviously the vehicle repair section of town. Mechanics were working right on the side of the road fixing buses and trucks. Some of them had some serious repairs being done. I saw one with the transmission out being worked on! Unreal.

A truck load of balloons.

Can you fit any more on the roof of your vehicle??

It was only 30 kms (18 miles), but it's on a twisty windy mountain road leading over the range behind the city of Bogota. Some great views, taking you up over 10,000 ft in altitude. So it's not much distance, but it takes about 45 minutes to get to the turn off where you get off the bus. Just ask the driver to let you off at Cascada de Chorrera.

And then you have to walk about 4.5 kms to get to the next turn off. It took us almost exactly an hour. Vehicles can drive this distance, so you're just walking on a local road but it's a nice walk with gorgeous scenery.

Ruth, starting down the road.

Gorgeous scenery.

We're at around 2,700 meters (8,800 ft) altitude here. So it doesn't take much of an uphill climb to start you huffing and puffing.

They call this a cloud forest.

Enjoying the scenery!

Saying hello to the cows.

An uphill stretch. One foot at a time! 

Colombia scenery.

Following the signs, you eventually come to the La Chorrera Parque Aventura (Adventure Park), where you have to pay 8,000 pesos ($3.60 CAD) for admission and a guided tour to the falls. We had to wait about 15 minutes for some more people to show up, and so including us there were 8 people plus our guide.

Guided hiking is a big thing here in Colombia. It's a bit frustrating for us, since we like to go at our own pace and would prefer not to be with a group. Also, this guy stopped and talked forever about some things and we had a very hard time understanding his Spanish. So it was a bit slow going.

Starting off. It was now 12:45pm.

We had a few rain showers go through...not enough to warrant getting out our emergency rain ponchos...and things dried up quickly when the sun poked through. The path was fairly wet and muddy in sections though...watch your footing!

Interesting path.

What are you looking at??

After about half an hour, our first stop was a smaller waterfall called El Chiflon. This is actually a really pretty waterfall, and a section of the trail goes behind the waterfall itself. It's pretty neat!

Kevin, going behind the waterfall.

Ruth behind the waterfall.

Kevin, at the base of El Chiflon.

Kevin, crossing the bridge.

Us, at El Chiflon.

From there, it was another hour and twenty minutes of beautiful hiking to get to the big one...Cascada de Chorrera. We could have done it quicker...and I wanted to because time was starting to become an issue. I knew that if we had to walk back to the main highway it would be at least 5:00pm before we got there and it starts to get dark shortly after that...and we still had to get back to the city.

Love the scenery.

Almost there!

The falls from a distance.

Watch your head in this section!

And then we arrived. It's hard to grasp how high this waterfall is. Never seen anything like it. From the top, which you can't even see, the water drops 590 meters (2,000 ft)...over half a kilometer. 

Here's a video I took to give you an idea...

Ruth, at the base of the falls.

The rest of our group seemed to want to linger, but I wanted to get going. So we simply started off on the way back and never saw them again. As I said, time was getting short and we still had a couple of hours to do to get back to the highway. Even then, it was 5:00pm when we did arrive at the highway and we had to stand and wait for a bus to pick us up. One passed us by that was full, but the next one stopped with a couple of empty seats.

The sun came out for this nice shot.

Other than some snacks, we had never had a real lunch so by the time we got back to Bogota we were starved. We had seen a sign in front of one restaurant that said they had salads, and that would be a nice change from all the meat dishes we've been having here. Sure enough, we ended up with a nice green meal!

Minestrone soup, thick with vegetables!

And a nice big salad each!

Total including a beer, fruit juice, and tip...35,000 pesos ($15.75 CAD) for the two of us. Nice meal.

I had the GPS tracking on the iPhone and our one way trip from the highway to the falls was 9.5 kms, so 19 kms return. Plus, we did 2 kms each way just to get from the hostel to the bus stop. Lots of exercise yesterday!

Today, we're getting out of the big city. We're not impressed with most areas of Bogota...it's a big, busy, dirty city...and we've had enough. 

The "Little Giant" multi use ladder is on sale...today only!

And in Canada, 


  1. Man oh man, that's a long day. You guys put most of us older dudes to shame. Point taken about the "getting dark" part of the equation. It was something that took a bit of getting used to when we first moved to P.R. Our brains are somehow wired for "dark = cold" as well.

    1. Yes, it was a long day but our feet and legs actually did quite well. It as a bit slow going up that last hill which was really steep but we did. It was definitely a great day.

      It starts getting cooler here as well when it gets darker, especially because we are at a higher elevation. Glad we started heading back when we did.

  2. Wow! An impressive hike, and the reward at the end is excellent. Great looking dinner!

    1. We really enjoyed the hike with all the beautiful scenery and of course both of the waterfalls.

      The soup and salad were delicious and we were really overdue for all those veggies.

  3. Very nice tour including the auto repair street, the loaded down car LOL, and lots of country pictures and waterfalls. Beautiful hike.

    1. We enjoyed every moment of the day, especially all the scenery.

  4. I guess you guys don't worry about eating fresh fruit or veggies wherever you are? No la tourista? If this is so, that's great. The waterfalls/hike looks marvelous. Glad you made it back without incident.

    1. Yes, we do worry about that a lot! We actually have fruit almost every day at least once or twice. Sometimes our breakfast includes fruit and we usually buy fruit to eat during the day. The vegetable part is harder to find. Sometimes we manage to find a place that will serve vegetables with the meal and if so we take it other wise we eat like the locals. I would make our meals more often but the conditions of the hostel kitchens for the most part are deplorable.

      The hike was excellent and we both felt great doing it, it was well overdue.

  5. What an amazing day you had, awesome pictures.

  6. I no longer enjoy big cities much at all, I am for cities of less than 250,000 max and the smaller city/town the better.

    1. We don't mind the big cities but can only take so much of them. Definitely love the countryside much better and the clean fresh air.

  7. I don't think I've ever seen such colourful cattle. Any idea what breed? They look like Heinz 57!

    Incredible waterfalls. Must be refreshing to get in behind them. Cooler anyway.

    So happy to hear Prednisone is helping the rash Kevin. Take care coming down off them. I hear they are very addictive and require a careful decline in dosage over several days.....but I'm sure the Doc will have given you proper instructions on that.
    Take Care!

    1. Totally agree with you they are beautifully coloured cows and no, we have no idea what the breed of them is.

      You could only go behind the first waterfall which was the smaller one, it did feel nice but we weren't overly hot because we are at a higher elevation and the temperature was a bit cooler. It was perfect hiking weather.

      Kevin has no addiction to the Prednisone, in fact he can't wait to stop taking them. No, the doctor never gave instructions for weaning yourself off them but he has read that you should and he has already started doing this.

  8. I like big cities, lots of history, museums, architecture, foreign restaurants, etc. You just have to look. But, you guys like the outdoors, and we do too. We like it all.

    1. We agree big cities are interesting and usually have lots of history but we can only take so much of them and Bogota really hasn't done much for us. Now Mexico City, New York City and London are a different story but even then a week is about all we can take at a time.

  9. Wow is about all I can say! Amazing scenery.

    1. Around every corner that what we kept saying "Wow"! We love the scenery here.

  10. Great hike, beautiful day you had! That's a yummy looking dinner.
    It's funny, we did the same thing yesterday, but we ended up sleeping in a cave behind the waterfall! Yoga mats and sleeping bags, great fun!

    1. We loved our hikea and our dinner!

      So glad Linda is feeling better and that you were able to reschedule your cave adventure. It looked like you had a great time.

  11. Wonderful falls, so glad you did the hike for me:)

    1. Anytime, always happy to bring you the sights of a hike that you won't be doing. :-)

  12. What an awesome day, and you ended it with a great looking meal! That's our kinda food!

    1. It was a fabulous day and yes, the meal was delicious and just what we needed. :-)


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