May 18, 2024

5 Must-Do's Before Visiting Monserrate

Are you in Bogotá? Get ready for an unforgettable adventure to Monserrate! Here’s everything you need to know before you go.

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Monserrate is a must-visit mountain in Bogotá, Colombia. With breathtaking views and a rich cultural history, it attracts countless visitors each year. To make the most of your trip, there are a few important things to prepare. Here are the five must-do's before visiting Monserrate to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience.

1. Check the Weather

Know What to Expect

Checking the weather forecast before your trip to Monserrate is basic. The weather on the mountain can change rapidly due to its high altitude, so it's important to be prepared, believe us. Bogotá’s climate is generally cool, but temperatures can drop significantly as you ascend.

Dress in Layers

Layering your clothing is the best way to stay comfortable. Start with a lightweight shirt, add a sweater, and (definitively!) bring a jacket. This way, you can adjust your clothing based on the temperature and stay warm if it gets chilly.

Bring a Raincoat

Even if the weather seems clear, it's wise to bring a raincoat or poncho. Sudden rain showers are super common, and having a raincoat can keep you dry and comfy throughout your visit. Lightweight, packable raincoats are the best as they won't take up much space in your bag.

Sun Protection

Even on cloudy days, UV rays can be strong at high altitudes. Remember, Bogotá is a high-altitude city and you’ll be over 2,500 metres closer to the sun than at sea level. Bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat to protect yourself from the sun. This will help prevent sunburn and keep you comfortable during your visit.

2. Plan Your Route

Choose Your Way Up

There are three main ways to reach the top of Monserrate: the funicular, the cable car, and hiking. Each option offers a fantastic experience, so choose the one you like the best and take into account your physical condition.

Funicular

The funicular is a small train that takes you up the mountain. It operates on a steep track and provides a quick and scenic ride to the top. The funicular runs daily, but make sure you check the schedule in advance - times may vary.

Cable Car

The cable car is another great option, offering outstanding views of Bogotá as you ascend. Honestly, this might be the best option for most. It's perfect for photographers (professional or not), or if you want some of that IG goodness for yourself and capture stunning aerial shots of the city and the mountain. Like the funicular, the cable car runs on a set schedule, so plan your trip accordingly.

Hiking

For those who enjoy a physical challenge, hiking up Monserrate is a mildly-challenging-yet-rewarding experience. The trail is about 2.5 kilometres long and can take between one to two hours depending on your pace. The path is steep and can be strenuous, so wear sturdy shoes and bring plenty of water. The hike offers beautiful natural scenery and a sense of accomplishment once you reach the top. Also, rain jacket!

Trail Tips

If you decide to hike, start early in the morning to avoid the midday heat. The trail can definitively get crowded, so an early start also means fewer people. We love meeting new people, it’s not about that but some parts of the trail can be a little narrow and too many people can slow you down. Make sure to pace yourself and take breaks as needed. Take it easy, there are resting spots along the way where you can catch your breath and enjoy the view.

3. Buy Tickets in Advance

Skip the Lines

Monserrate is a very popular destination -for good reason tho-, and lines for the funicular and cable car can get long, especially on weekends and holidays. Buying your tickets in advance can save you plenty of time and hassle, allowing you to get the most out of your time in Bogotá.

Online Tickets

You can purchase tickets for the funicular and cable car online through the official Monserrate website. This option is convenient and allows you to secure your spot ahead of time. Pro tip: Keep a digital or printed copy of your ticket handy when you arrive, they’ll ask for it.

Mega Pro Tip: Ticket Packages

Look for special ticket packages that may offer discounts or include additional perks such as round-trip rides or entry to certain attractions at the top. Some packages may also include guided tours, which can make your experience that much better by providing historical and cultural context to the absolutely marvellous place you’ll be hiking in.

Off-Peak Times

If possible, visit Monserrate during off-peak times. If you can, weekdays and early mornings tend to be waaay less crowded, making your visit more enjoyable. You’ll spend less time waiting and more time exploring. If weekends are your only option, it is certainly still worth your time, just make sure you follow our other advice and, especially, start your hike early.

4. Bring Essentials

Pack Smart

Packing the right items can make or break the quality of your trip to Monserrate. Double-check you have everything you need to stay comfortable and prepared. We would take:

Water and Snacks

Stay hydrated kids! Always, but particularly when hiking up mountains. Bring a reusable water bottle that you can refill at the top. Packing light snacks like granola bars, nuts, or fruit can keep your energy levels up and prevent hunger pangs. Any Oxxo in Bogotá should be good to get you sorted before you depart for Monserrate.

Mega Pro Tip: Ticket Packages

Look for special ticket packages that may offer discounts or include additional perks such as round-trip rides or entry to certain attractions at the top. Some packages may also include guided tours, which can make your experience that much better by providing historical and cultural context to the absolutely marvellous place you’ll be hiking in.

Comfortable Shoes

Comfortable, sturdy shoes are a non-negotiable if you’re doing the hiking version of Monserrate. You’ll be okay with any trainers if you are planning to go by the funicular or cable car versions of the visit. The paths can be uneven and rocky, so proper footwear will help prevent nasty slips so you can explore without discomfort or just looking clumsy in front of your travelling peers.

Camera or Phone

The views from Monserrate are spectacular, and you'll want to capture them. We don’t need to tell you this, but if you are making an air-tight list of things to check before you go to Monserrate, make sure your camera or phone is fully charged, and bring a portable charger if you don’t fully trust your phone’s battery life. This way, you can take as many photos as you like without thinking too much about your phone battery betraying you.

Personal Items

Pack a small bag with personal items like hand sanitiser, tissues, and any medications you might need. A small first-aid kit can also be useful for minor injuries or blisters. Nothing crazy, but safety first. you.

5. Learn About the History

Understand the Significance

Yes, Monserrate is more a crazy-scenic spot and will look fantastic on your Instagram, bit it’s also much more. It holds significant historical and cultural value. Learning about its history can enrich your visit and provide a deeper appreciation for this iconic landmark - and will give you better material for that IG caption than your “It’s about the journey, not the destination” #Colombia #Arepa #Blessed.

The Church

At the top of Monserrate stands a beautiful church, officially known as the Basilica of the Lord of Monserrate. Built in the 17th century, it is a place of pilgrimage for many Colombians. The church is dedicated to El Señor Caído (The Fallen Lord), and visitors often come to pray and seek blessings.

Local Legends

Monserrate is steeped in local legends and stories. One popular tale involves the origins of the name "Monserrate," which is believed to be derived from the Montserrat mountain in Catalonia, Spain. Understanding these legends can make your visit more memorable -also, better captions, we’re telling you.

Guided Tours

Consider taking a guided tour to learn more about the history and significance of Monserrate. Guides can provide detailed information and answer any questions you might have. They are also great at recommending things to do around Bogotá, not just that one site. This can definitively help you find those hidden gems we talk about so much here at Tailbox.

Cultural Significance

Monserrate is not only a religious site but also a cultural one. Many local events and festivals take place here, especially during Semana Santa (Holy Week). Visiting during these times can offer a unique glimpse into the local culture and traditions. Expect crowds if you do.

Monserrate is a fantastic destination in its own right and a must-see if you are visiting Bogotá. You’ll get breathtaking views, some solid pictures and a rich history for you to learn from. Follow our tips and get to live one of Colombia’s top attractions at its fullest.

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