Much is made of the colonial towns that ring the Colombian capital of Bogota, but few are visited frequently aside from perennial favorites such as Villa de Leyva and Guatavita amongst others. This is where the small and perfectly formed village of Mongui fits in.
Mongui is a delightful town, almost too picture postcard ready in its flawlessness, found 97km from Tunja and at the lofty altitude of 2650m above sea level.
Founded in 1555 as a Spanish settlement on an area known for its mythical Sagamuxi indigenous roots, Mongui represents a forgotten Colombia, one that is superficially Spanish and colonial but, with deep aboriginal roots and practices simmering beneath the surface.
Just a six hour drive from Bogota takes you out through the departments of Cundinamarca and Boyaca with their deliciously authentic towns with original indigenous names such as Chia, Turmeque, Cajica, past Sogamoso and the chilly waters of the Laguna de Tota. You may want to break the journey in the departmental capital of Tunja, recognized for its magnificent colonial palaces, before heading on to Paipa which attracts droves of city dwellers enticed by the region’s hot springs.
Mongui may seem like a long drive from Bogota, but it is exactly this, the journey out of smoggy Bogota, through the sabanas and past colonial dwellings that makes this trip so enjoyable. Here you’ll encounter a fine cross section of points of interest until arriving at what has been voted as Colombia’s most scenic colonial town.
Known for the intricacy of its colonial balconies, the fine religious artwork of the maestro Gregorio Vásquez de Arce y Ceballos, Mongui can also cater to hikers wishing to stroll out over Páramo de Ocetá with its delicate high altitude flora.