Backpacking in Colombia: Guasca’s Paradise

Backpacking in Colombia: Guasca’s Paradise

In my time in Colombia I basically did a mini tour of a lot of towns and villages north east of Bogota, the country’s capital. This was a very different travel experience that most would get in Colombia, as none of these places (except Guatavita the gorgeous settlement by a lake) are touristy at all. A bit more raw and real life Colombia if you want.

Of course my local guide and good friend Julio Felipe gave me a real insight into his lifestyle. Living on a farm at Santa Ana Alta, the nearest village, Guasca is an hour to walk (I think) and at least 20 minutes by car. This isolation probably helps save the pennies. No need to venture out at night, from their gorgeous farm land, one of which Julio is himself particularly proud of. 

Julio, once a fellow Bournemouth worker, and resident in England for a brave while, swapped his expensive camera for a cow, the city for the countryside and the rest is history. My introduction into rural Colombia came in the little Paradise of Guasca.

We got a mini bus from central Bogota to Guasca. 
The bus took a couple of hours and was an awesome journey – very safe and I fell asleep for a spell.

Guasca is away from the madness of Bogota. It’s a small mountain village, and it’s Julio’s local town, so I got the guided tour, the fancy Colombian shots (Aguardiente!), a few beers and everything you need to relax away from the busy-ness of life. In essence, in it’s disconnected splendour, Guasca, and more specifically Santa Ana Alta is paradise.

The centre point of Guasca is the main square, where a very nice church sits. The photo 2 photos above shows the view of Guasca from a hike we did at Santa Ana Alta, as does this one…

What an amazing view we got of Guasca. Just splendid Colombian countryside.

Quiet central Guasca by night.

This bright blue building on the corner of the main square caught my eye, both at night and by day.

Typical Guasca street – narrow, quiet.
The lonely road from Santa Ana Alta to Guasca. Many farm animals can be found, mostly pigs, sheep, cows and goats.

Guasca behind a wall viewed from the car.

The one way system – every street is like this. First come first through…

The pedestrian part of the main square.

The centrepiece of Guasca – a gorgeous main church.

Wearing a typical Colombian hat and a Glentoran shirt. Bet many haven’t done that in downtown Guasca. Basking in the sun as well. The trousers are a red herring – it was scorching.

Fountain in the square.

The local council office was my “striking bright blue building”, these flags are also local.

Statue and the Church in the background.

Licorera – Liquor Store – Off Licence – Offy. This is very local. Julio bought our beers and first night shots in there. You can buy takeaway shots and drink them in the street. I didn’t visit any “bars” in Guasca, though they exist and are very local, old, and worn.

A cash point/ATM. This reminded me of Bangor due to the sign Banagrario. I didn;t risk taking any money out. Fraud and robbery can be common in these enclosed bank machines.

Looking at the masterful church from the back of the square.

My travelling Northern Ireland flag made it to Guasca square in front of the church. I hadn’t even heard of Guasca a week earlier and it didn’t feature in my Lonely Planet book (neither did Sopo or Chia, 2 other towns I visited). This also made it feel like I was really travelling and getting to see the Colombian lifestyle. Thanks of course to Julio Felipe.

My favourite blue building in Day time! Council offices I believe.

A small Christmas display opposite the main square.

Other side of main square, Church prominently in view once again.

Police wagon and police station. We’re in Colombia, so I’d have to estimate most of the crime is related to drugs. I could be wrong.

The only real tourist mention in Guasca – the Spanish can translate as “Guasca – the tourist destination of the Muisca Gods” presumably a reference to those people who arrived and created this city – which is at some altitude and really, in the middle of nowhere.

This sign means something like “we all do change” or “we all can change.” I really liked that and I’m very much into words of wisdom. It was nice seeing this dislocated town living a normal life and giving some inspiration via words.

As a Northern Irishman would say “peeler station” (Police Station).

A church so nice it deserved one last photo.

Last bus to Guasca? Soon my Guasca clock had ticked and as I said farewell on a hot sunny morning, there was time to see Sopo and Chia and continue by trek north east, this time by bus, where the destination was to finally end up in Caracas, Venezuela, some 700 kilometres away. That trip itself was some journey and when I look back, easily the worst journey of my life so far, but worth it. As a traveller we have to buzz off adventure and arriving in dreary Cucuta at 5am trying to get across the border was certainly an adventure, if not an enjoyable one.

Wikipedia says this much about Guasca:
Guasca is a Colombian town and municipality in the Cundinamarca Department located approximately 105 km from Bogotá. It has a touristic and an agricultural zone.

Thats sums it up…

It wasn’t quite a Gangsta’s Paradise in Guasca, but the title suits, I like the pun, I love the song, and hey, we were in Colombia, which is hardly shy of Gangsters now is it? Over to you Coolio (VIDEO FROM 1995 a UK NUMBER ONE SINGLE – GANGSTA’S PARADISE):


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