Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Serene Suesca

In terms of little escapes from Bogotá, generally speaking we prefer to hit for one of the many lower-lying, warmer locations dotted all around the metropolis.

This is even more so the case when the capital city is going through one of its somewhat depressingly grey, wetter-weather phases, as it has been of late.
Suesca, Cundinamarca, Colombia.
A view of Suesca with Las Rocas in the left background.
The thing is, when it's public holiday time in Bogotá, most people have the same idea. Thus, you have a run on the likes of Girardot, Melgar, Tobia and Villeta to name just a few. And with that the prices for hotels and other tourist-related things shoot up.

In fact, if you're your own boss and can take holidays more or less whenever you want, staying in a much more relaxed Bogotá during these peak holiday times is an appealing option.

Nonetheless, not every town in a 200 kilometre radius or so of the capital sees an influx of tourists when work's out for a few days.

A 90-minute bus drive from the north of Bogotá, the quaint, tranquil town of Suesca is one of them. At about 2,600 metres above sea level, it certainly does not fall into the 'warm-weather escape' category.

One of the main — if not the main  — pull-factors is the alluring cliff rocks, 'Las Rocas', on the town's outskirts. These imposing cliffs stretch for about four kilometres and are popular with rock climbers. Many visitors avail of the camping facilities alongside them as an accommodation option; there was a steady stream of crusty campers about when we were there in any case.

Yet around Suesca's picturesque main plaza it still has very much a local, 'unspoilt' feel to it. This we very much like.

Now in similar style to our San José del Guaviare trip, we just rocked up here with little or no prior planning.

So the fact that the tourism office was closed didn't help things in terms of finding out what's to do and see outside of Las Rocas.

Armed with contradictory information, we did set off on an ill-fated wander to Laguna (Lake) Suesca. Had we been unequivocally told at the start that it was at least a three-hour trek and that the lake was pretty much dry — it had been dry season despite the bit of rain and overcast conditions we had for most of our stay — we probably wouldn't have attempted it on foot at all. (My fellow Irish companion wasn't up for a long, potentially fruitless hike; tut, tut Finbarr.)

So after an hour-and-a-half's walk that culminated in stumbling across a 'hidden gem' of a tienda bar, where the owners told us we were still some way off the lake, we paused for a liquid refreshment before returning to Suesca. We did get some nice views along the way, as well as discovering the aforementioned tienda, so it certainly wasn't fruitless.
Suesca, Cundinamarca, Colombia.
Wandering the hills around Suesca ... Reminds us of home, kind of!
Speaking of watering holes, Suesca could be seen as the home of the tiendas. It appears that every second establishment is one where you can sit in and have a beer. However, while we're not averse to a Poker or two, Suesca's rather chilly weather and exposed tiendas aren't conducive to knocking back a few cold ones. Not wanting to be rude, we did give it a go all the same.

Sipping on a tasty and very-reasonable-priced coffee whilst watching the day go by in the panadería (bakery-cum-café) 'Las Rocas de Suesca' on the main square is a decent alternative to the tiendas.

Whatever tipple you choose, as refreshing, short breaks from Bogotá go, weather aside (it's not that bad either, especially from an Irish perspective), Suesca is as good as they come.

*The rather expensive Hotel Casona Quesada aside, there aren't too many obvious budget accommodation options in Suesca. However, with a bit of persistence we found a well-kept house-cum-hotel for 30.000 COP per night for a three-bed room. It's located on Calle 4, just off Carrera 5 next to a little park with a basketball court.
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