Guatavita and the Legend of El Dorado in Colombia Uncover Colombia


April 18, 2024, 6:51 pm

Located just 2 hours away from Bogotá, Colombia, Guatavita is one of the most popular destinations for a day tour out of the city. This small town is also called "Guatativa la Nueva" ("The New Guatavita"), as it was built in the 1960s to relocate the inhabitants of the original Guatavita that was flooded during the construction of the Tomine reservoir. This reservoir was created to generate electric power for the nearby localities and to increase the water supply for Bogota. Guatavita was re-built as a perfect replica of a Spanish colonial town with its houses exhibiting white facades, rustic stucco, clay tiles and simple wooden doors and windows.

The New Guatavita has everything you need to enjoy a pleasant day trip from Bogota: excellent restaurants, various handicrafts shops, a beautiful church and a museum with a small collection of indigenous artifacts  The reservoir also offers the option to engage in water sports like boating and water skiing.

As part of your tour to Guatavita, you can also visit the ancient and sacred Lake Guatavita, located just 30 min from the town heading towards Sesquile. The lake is famous for the Legend of El Dorado, which refers to the treasures held deep inside the waters of the lake.

The Lake Guatavita is a mystic, peaceful and perfect circle of water. There are different opinions about the origins of the lake and the reason for its circular shape, It could be a volcanic crater or the result of a meteorite impact. At the lake you can walk up to the rim of the crater from where you can see the extensive countryside of the Bogota Savannah.

According to the legend, the ceremony to appoint the new Muisca Chief (The Muiscas were the native inhabitants of Bogota and other parts of Cundinamarca and Boyaca) used to happen at the centre of this lake. It is said that the new Muisca chief was covered in gold dust and then sailed to the centre of the lake in a wooden raft from which he would subsequently jumped into the water. The raft was loaded with precious treasures that were later thrown into the water as a symbol of adoration to their gods.

When the Spaniards came to this territory and heard about the legend of El Dorado, they organised many expeditions to find the gold submerged in the lake, they even attempted to drain the lake but nothing was never found. We think the real treasure of Guatavita is its fantastic natural beauty and tranquility. It is truly a magical place where visitors can experience a mystical encounter with nature and relax surrounded by one of the most beautiful landscapes near Bogota.

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Nidia Penagos

Nidia Penagos

Nidia started Uncover Colombia after feeling the tug to promote her native country through a positive perspective. What better way to do that than showing visitors the beauty and diversity of her homeland? She was well-aware Colombia didn’t have the best reputation and she wanted to change that. So in 2012, with the help of her Colombian husband and close group of friends, she laid the foundation to build a Colombian tour operator that offers unique adventures, safe experiences and utilises local knowledge on each and every tour. 

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