The sombre, peaceful, tranquil loneliness of Vereda Santa Ana Alta, Colombia. Travellers simply don’t go here on their own. There’s nowhere to stay. There’s no buses or transport. But thanks to my Colombian friend Julio Felipe I got to stay 4 nights in the mountain village of Vereda Santa Ana Alta (to quote its full name) in the district of Cundinamarca, some 2 hours north east of the colossal capital Bogota (where I also stayed in Nice district), so this was a unique countryside experience.
I stayed on Julio’s Farm, known as Zoroastro, situated in Vereda Santa Ana Alta near the town of Guasca, a couple of hours uphill drive north east of Bogota, Colombia.
To get there we needed first a bus from Bogota. Cosy, comfy, friendly, safe and uphill, this bus took us past a Bogota sunset into the charmful Guasca.
Sunset overlooking Bogota.
Then a lift home from Julio’s family car – his sister Paula was driving.
Food was all served up by Julio, Claudia and Paula. All the food was exceptional, and mixed European with Colombian. First night was pork ribs, rice, tomato and potato, with beers to “water” it down. It was New Year’s Eve!
Julio and Paula in the kitchen. True rural Colombian style. Wear your coats indoors in the mountains in the cold winter. It ain’t hot.
The yellow farmhouse that they live in was small and cosy and perfect for their needs. The views were exceptional. This felt like I was really travelling, whereas jumping from hostel to hostel, from airport to bus station and from city to city can often have a more nomadic travel vacuum effect. To get sucked away from the vacuum for a few days was exactly the tonic I needed.
Zoroastro shines and shadows itself eloquently in the morning sun.
Pancakes, banana, tea, ham, bread. A selection of breakfast in Santa Ana Alta.
Enjoying New Year’s Eve 2010 on the settee with Paula in Santa Ana Alta. It was cosy and cold.
A few tins of Colombian Club to see the New Year in! 2010 was over and it was now 2011. I celebrated with Julio, Paula and Claudia in Vereda Santa Ana Alta.
Breakfast was different each day. This was one of my favourites – corn crisps and eggs. These corn crisps mixed tortilla chips with pancake with doughnuts in taste. One of the finest breakfasts I have enjoyed.
I have been blessed with comfortable beds everywhere I have gone. This was my bedroom for 4 nights in Vereda Santa Ana Alta. Pure bliss.
Living on a farm, this was a throwback to school days singing “Old MacDonald had a farm”, Julio has cats, dogs and cows. I’m sure there will be more to come. I helped milk the cows when I was there and would gladly do that again if I go back. One of the dogs was called Bruno, the 2 main cows were called Venus and Jupiter.
We are very high up as well of course, this farm is up in the mountains, breathing becomes an issue sometimes, and the sun is hot. Therefore to blend in, I borrowed Julio’s hat for a few days!
One of 2 calves they own.
And the other calf. The story goes that Felipe got fed up of life in the city, swapped his camera for a cow and now has a farm, 2 cows and 2 calves!
The lonely path that leads to Julio’s farm, Zoroastro. We went for a short walk on New Year’s Day 2011. It was sheer beauty and immense countryside. An utterly breathtaking place to relax away from city life.
I got to meet the extended family too, as they had a family get together on New Year’s Day for food, drinks and enjoying the sun. I can’t remember all their names, they were aunts, uncles and cousins of Julio. In the picture above is Alejandro, who speaks decent English and studied in the USA, where he met his Ukrainian girlfriend who was there for the day with us, meaning I wasn’t the only foreigner in my time in Santa Ana Alta!
Dinner with the whole family was again a feast fit for Kings. The bread reminded me a bit of soda bread, while the chicken and salad was exquisite.
For dessert we had lime jelly, shaped and coloured to look like a watermelon.
Julio and Bruno the dog relaxing in the sun.
Relaxing in the sun with a cold Costena!
Relaxing. So chilled out in Santa Ana Alta!
The whole family! New Year’s Day 2011.
Me with the whole family in the front garden at the farm!
The cows! Feeding and milking time!
Covered separately is my report on working on Julio’s farm – milking cows. A few photos on here as well.
The evening sky, pre-sunset from the farm.
New Year’s Dinner at Santa Ana Alta!
The house is very cosy and I liked the way Julio, Claudia and Paula collect churches and put them on the wall. Here’s their collection!
Another fine breakfast in Santa Ana Alta – scrambled eggs! I am forever thankful for the food at Julio’s farm.
Although Santa Ana Alta is totally isolated, the nearby village of Guasca is where they go shopping – it’s a pretty wee village, un-touristy and only 20 minutes drive.
Night falls on the farm.
I tried Costena, Aguila and Club Colombia while in Santa Ana Alta. Julio and I like to relax with a beer.
The 20 minute drive to Guasca is typical Colombian countryside. You pass by many an animal on the way!
Another amazing Colombian meal cooked by Paula in Santa Ana Alta. This was beef, maize, rice, oats and potatoes. Delicious.
Some of the animals we saw nearby. Sheep!
Another nice view of the farm, taken from the driveway.
Another immense view looking down towards Guasca. Seriously as journeys, travels and places go in life, this experience was totally fantastic.
Packing the car ready to leave Santa Ana Alta for the last time. My onward journey saw me visit the towns of Chia and Sopo, before a 15 – 16 hour bus journey onwards from Sopo all the way to Cucuta, right next to the Venezuela border, which would be the next country on my list on my ongoing adventures…
A nice wee photo for nostalgia – June 2005 – at our house party in Alton Road, Bournemouth, Julio and my old housemate Jody enjoy a joke together!
Gary King, Charlie Messenger, Julio Felipe Vengoechea, myself and Gareth Thomas at a beach party in Bournemouth, summer 2005.
Julio serving my brother when we worked together in Best Break in Bournemouth, 2005.
Leaving Santa Ana Alta behind…This entire post, and all of my amazing Colombian memories such as Guatavita is dedicated to the legend and friend that is Julio Felipe, and all his friends and family who made me feel most welcome and showed me a side of Colombia I would not have seen as a solo tourist. I was inspired once again.
Where Is It? – Yellow Farmhouse, Zoroastro Farm, Vereda Santa Ana Alta, near Guasca, Cundinamarca, Colombia
Who Lives There? – Julio Felipe, Paula, Claudia and their animals
Nationalities Met – Colombian, Ukrainian
Beers Tried – Colombian Club, Costena, Aguila
Animals I spotted – chickens, dogs, cats, goats, sheep, eagles, spiders, birds, cows, calves
Key Song –
THE CAESARS – JERK IT OUT:
(Julio and I rocked to this and many other songs when we worked together in Best Break, Bournemouth)
My Videos –
DRIVING THROUGH SANTA ANA ALTA:
NEW YEAR’S DAY SUN AT ZOROASTRO, SANTA ANA ALTA
NEW YEAR’S DAY HIKE RELAXING IN SANTA ANA ALTA:
GORGEOUS EAGLES FLY BY AT SANTA ANA ALTA: