Falling asleep in the slightly wild bus, or the backseat of a friend’s car is usually how I end my trips to La Chorrera Waterfall. It is not a difficult hike and can be completed in just a few hours. But after an adventure in a cool, cloud forest I tend to pass out right away. Being only about one hour from Bogota, La Chorrera Waterfall is a very popular day trip. I have made the trip a couple of times, arriving by both local bus, and with a friend in their car. Both ways give you a different experience so I will lay it all out on the table for you. No matter how you decide to get there, this day trip is a must as you get to visit the tallest waterfall in all of Colombia!
As you are packing your bag for the day remember several things. It will be cool and possibly rainy. There are several restaurants but bringing a zero-waste lunch is a great option. It will be a muddy trail.
It is important to bring a rainproof jacket that gives you a bit of warmth. La Chorrera Waterfall is located in a cloud forest and this means some fog, light mist, and often heavy rain. On the main road, there are places to buy breakfast and snacks. There are also two restaurants within the grounds of the hike. The first one you pass is a Cuban restaurant with friendly hosts and makes for a decent option on your way back around lunchtime. As you reach the first waterfall, yes there are two, you can find another restaurant with local options. Every time we go hiking however, we bring our own, zero-waste snacks and lunches. And finally, it will be muddy. I cannot understand how, but every time we make this hike, we find tons of people with new bright white shoes hopping from stone to stone hoping they don’t sink into the mud. They always do! Wear appropriate hiking boots.
Getting to La Chorrera Waterfall is possible by public, and personal transportation. Here are the details about both options.
Taking public transportation is pretty easy and also a bit more of an experience. A good, local experience. Find your way to Tercer Milenio station on the transmilenio. From here walk down Calle 6 towards the police station. Just past the police station, you can find a small, slightly hidden bus station. The bus station looks more like a mechanic’s garage, but you have found the right place. Ask for bus tickets to Choachi and tell them you are going to La Chorrera. It will cost less than $10,000 pesos ($3USD) for a one way ticket and the driver can let you know where to get off. It will be a small bus that climbs up winding narrow roads, often filled with dozens of people riding bikes.
After about an hour, you will hop off the bus and follow the signs for Cascada La Chorrera. Cross the street and from here you might actually have another transportation option. Jeeps or moto-taxis here are looking to give people rides to the hike entrance. We have never priced these options, but it could cut a good 45 minutes off your morning trek. If you continue on foot to La Chorrera Waterfall, you will follow the signs and follow the road for 45-60 minutes. You will pass several small farms and finally pass a large car park on the left. There will be some small shops ahead for coffee and bread and this is the official entrance to the hike.
For those going by car, most will simply type in La Chorrera Waterfall into your GPS or Google Maps or Waze. But be aware, it might take you flying right past the entrance. I am not sure why this happens, but you need to take the same road as people walking past all the small farms to the car park. Check this map here to make sure you find the dirt road entrance. The road has signs so pay attention as you get close. From the dirt road, it is a couple minutes by car, and you will have a large, safe car park. Once parked, take the same path and begin your hike.
The path leads up to the left and you will follow this for another 15-20 minutes up and up several hills until finally, you have your first view of a campground. Off in the distance, straight ahead from here, you will see La Chorrera Waterfall. Know that you are in a cloud forest and you might not be able to see it yet. You must buy your entrance wrist bands in the campground on the left side before you can continue on the hike. Tickets are around $12,000 pesos. ($4 USD)
I mentioned earlier that you need to leave early. This is for real. Leaving the city at 6:30 or 7 am is a good choice because this is a great hike when you are alone. Later in the day buses and cars full of people arrive, especially on weekends, and it can get crowded and find yourself in a line of people. Starting your hike at 8 am is very nice, cool and private.
The hike from beginning to end is around 3-4 hours starting at the campground. After a short time, you will approach El Chiflon Waterfall. There is a restaurant here and some cool paths to take that let you walk behind the falls and get a really cool vista looking through the falls. However, I recommend you to not go to El Chiflon Waterfall yet. Go all the way to La Chorrera first and then catch El Chiflon on the way back. If you are early, this means you can continue on your quiet and private hike.
From here you will hike around an hour towards La Chorrera. Enjoy the green environment and the natural fresh smells that you simply cannot get in the city. When you see park workers stationed along the trail, be sure to stop and listen to the stories they tell. You can learn how locals transport supplies to Bogota, ON FOOT. You can also learn about the trees and some other sites you can see. When you find a sign for the Monkey Caves, you will be very close to La Chorrera. You can swing by and visit these as they are only a 3-5 minute walk up the hill. From here you have another nice view of La Chorrera and can see some neat rock formations. Continue towards La Chorrera and finally, you have made it. You can walk right down near the base of the falls and get blasted by the mist that has fallen from 590 meters (1,935 feet) above. Spend a short time here and hopefully, you made it here early so you can truly take it in and enjoy your moment.
After enjoying the falls, make your way back. Pass by El Chiflon and back towards the entrance. Most likely at this point, many people will be arriving, and you will pass hundreds of people going the other way. Once back at the car park you know the rest. You will either be driving home or walking back out to the main road to catch a passing bus. The only real way to get home from here if you don’t have a car to wait on the side of the road and flag down a passing bus. If you are earlier in the day, this shouldn’t be a problem. The later it gets, the harder it might be to get seats. So have patience and take a nap like I did once you are safely on the bus back to Bogota.