Zipaquira Salt Cathedral Is An Awesome Place To Visit
Today sees us leaving Bogota by taking two buses to arrive at Zipaquira Salt Cathedral. Both buses are lovely, clean and comfortable compared to the ones we took in Panama. Here the interior decor of the bus is different and we notice the crosses and Mary pictures that decorate it?
Why Prebooking Accommodation Isn’t Always Great
We have pre-booked a hotel online based on the images supplied. But we have found over time that this is often deceptive and the best photos are put to the front and the real rooms are way at the back.
We’ve found this time and time again with a major ‘Booking’ site. So when we arrive here, we discover that unfortunately, this hotel is opposite a service station and on the main street. It is a clean room, but again noisy just like we endured in Panama City.
The Township of Zipiquira
Here in the lovely old township of Zipiquira, we are within walking distance to ‘Sal Catedral’ or Zipaquira Salt Cathedral, so off we go down the old paved streets.
Looking For alternative Accommodation
We find one of the town squares and is really lovely. But on looking to change hotels we don’t have any success. Sometimes it is almost worth forgoing what you have paid to find something that makes you feel comfortable.
We find no hostels in this town. Maybe there might be some near the bus station that we didn’t see, but we wander and compare about 10 hotels and occupancy is high. This is a tourist town, for the middle to upper class of Bogota we are told, and is priced accordingly.
Continuing to wander through the quaint streets and squares is delightful because Zipaquira is just so well kept and beautiful. It turns out to be quite a hike up the hill to go to the salt mine and I am completely stuffed. It is warm, and we have long sleeved tops on.
The right clothing is important with travel and we suggest to wear layers. Jackets and t-shirts are often best, but with constant travel, it is a bit of a juggle between fashion and what is in the luggage. In this instance, we have left our main luggage in storage back in Bogota and are traveling only with a small backpack each.
The Maze At Zipaquira Salt Cathedral
Explorason finds a maze out the front of the salt mine and has a bit of fun. I am feeling my age as he wants to play, but I need water and a rest.
Ticket Time Wasting
We get to the entrance of the mine but then find out that we have to go back to the car park entrance to buy our tickets. As we walked and didn’t drive in we have missed this ticket booth. This could be signposted way better.
I am worn out from dragging bags on buses, so I don’t think my attitude came across well to the man who directed us where to go, but we finally get the tickets. There are a lot of choices and now I must also choose a positive attitude. Travel can often test you as everything is unfamiliar and a challenge. It toughens you up when you don’t want to be toughened.
There are a lot of choices with tickets here. We select just the tour with the English speaking guide. You can also go into the mine, and do a hard-hat tour, or even a tour where you mine for salt. We didn’t do these, but it is hard to know when you have never been inside a salt mine before.
My son has no idea it will be a bit dark inside the salt mine or Zipaquira Salt Cathedral either. He is totally afraid since last Halloween and also a bad Disneyland experience.
Eucalyptus Lined Walls
The entrance has a light changing the display. This is enough to distract my son and allay his fears. We walk DOWN the tunnel. It is lined with eucalyptus – in fact, gum trees are all over this area. A gentle nice reminder of home in Australia.
Our guide is wonderful. He slowly explains so much. Like the fact that ‘salary’ comes from ‘sal or salt’ – and was used as wages way back.
Ceiling Light Show
As we wander down we get to enjoy a light display. There was only 3 of us here for this, it was so good! It throws patterns onto the ceiling and it changes so fast that we stayed a while trying to get the right photos.
We then spend time learning in our world schooling ways about an incredible carved wall. The detail really doesn’t show in these photos. It is glorious, and the colors on the salt walls add so much life to real life visuals. these walls were carved in a religious fashion and the miners that came down here were strong in faith.
My son bows low in front of an etched wall. I think it helps to see the design more clearly but its an interesting role play.
We then head to a low pool and this is only inches deep. The reflection is important for the mining process. It is so mirror clear: you would think there is a room for you!
Underground Stores And Cafés
Unfortunately, for us, there seem to be way too many stores down here and it’s like an underground shopping center. It kind of ruins the amazing feel to the place as far as we are concerned.
But there is a coffee shop 180 meters below the surface and more than 1 km underground that is worth having a coffee at. There is a free salt rock that we can take away with us.
The Salt Walls And Crosses
The Zipaquira Salt Cathedral is very lovely and if travelers needed time to be quiet and reflect on life, this is is the place to do it.
We take time to be thankful for the far we have come. We have made it – more than 6 months on our journey – so we thank God for that.
The cross has a red heartbeat in the center lights but I don’t get to take a photo at the right time, but it is a nice touch.
It is a lovely area of the Zipaquira Salt Cathedral. If you visit, take your time and leave the tour about here so you get time to soak in the tranquility of the moment. Wander and immerse yourself in the awe of this cathedral.
There are testing areas down in this mine to see how long the cathedral will last before nature takes ver. They say it might last 300 years and so they are expanding and trying to keep it in good condition so please take care.
Tunnels and Toilets and Tips
There are lots of tunnels to explore. Also, look for the salt rock roof toilets too which are unique and well worth a visit and these are deep inside the salt mine.
There are different stations of the cross along the first tunnel. We are told by our guide to take photos on the way out. The mine drains batteries faster than normal, so we appreciate this tip. Start taking your photos only when you get to the bottom of the cathedral area.
We head out and there is a train waiting for COP $3000 each ($1.50 approx) We ride it and meet a lovely lady from Korea who only has 3 days in Colombia. Her husband’s camera never stops as he has to take it all in so fast. We laugh with her, but now I realize how good it feels to travel slowly, and for so long. Explorason enjoys the little train trip around the old town so much that in the end, we ride the train all the way back to Zipaquira Salt Cathedral.
Restaurants And Pricing
My son and I find a restaurant for dinner. It was not this one in the photo above, but the guy rips us off. We made the mistake of him helping us in English to order “off the menu”. So then when we came to pay he invented the price and it is extremely high. Oh well – I live and learn!
Windows and Noise
We get back to Hotel La Terraza before dark. Our hotel is not expensive, but also not cheap. It is a nice room with ensuite and small kitchenette area. Unfortunately, part of the top window is missing that is hidden by curtains, and the other slowly opens all by itself on the hinge (which my son thinks is really creepy). So as we are several floors up, I stuff a pillow in the broken window and hope for the best with the other window.
However, since we are opposite a fuel station, the horns, alarms, and music go off all night. At 3 am, they decide to blast music through the loudspeakers.
Time To Move On
By 6:00 am I am up. Time to move on – I need quiet, and I need sleep! We pack quickly and decide to seek a bus to Guatavita, our next destination.
Comments and Questions
- Have you ever been to a salt mine?
- What about Colombia – is that a country you have ever traveled to and if so how did you find it?
- Are you planning a trip to Colombia?
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