Tag Archives: Bogota

Colombian volcano, Nevado del Ruiz, erupts; authorities warn of further eruptions

Colombia’s Nevado del Ruiz volcano, which sits in the Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados in the Zona Cafetera (or “Coffee zone”), 130 kilometers (80 mi) west of Bogota, erupted last Saturday, 30 June, after months of volcanic activity. The brief eruption took place at 5.37 p.m. local time, when the volcano expelled a 9.5 kilometer (6 mi) cloud of smoke, ash and gases, resulting in the evacuation of thousands of locals in the surrounding area and the suspension of commercial flights from the nearby towns of Armenia, Manizales and Pereira.

Nevado del Ruiz ("Nevado del Ruiz nos saludo 2" by Dr EG)

Fortunately, there have been no reports of injuries or damage to property, but authorities have warned that a further eruption is probable. Though the volcanic activity alert has now been lowered to orange after it was declared red following the eruption, scientists at the Vulcan and and Seismological Observatory in nearby Manizales say that the volcano continues to emit gases and ash, and that “new eruptions cannot be ruled out”. The recent activity is a nasty reminder of the deadly power of the 5321 meter (17,457 ft) volcano: on November 13 1985, a massive avalanche of mud and debris, caused by a small eruption, destroyed the town of Armero, killing an estimated 25,000 people. Avoid the area where possible, and keep up-to-date with travel and safety alerts: the website of the Manizales Vulcan and Seismological Observatory has daily updates (Spanish only), or check the Colombia travel advice page of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Find out more about Colombia in VIVA’s new Colombia Adventure Guideavailable in a variety of e-book applications directly from VIVA, as well as in print format from Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

Bogotá's 5 best vegetarian restaurants

In a country whose unofficial national dish is the bandeja paisa –  a meat-heavy platter that includes pork, ground beef and sausage – it can be a little difficult to find vegetarian-friendly fare. However, Colombia’s capital city, Bogotá, has a surprising number of restaurants dedicated to vegetarians and lovers of vegetarian cuisine. Here are our top five veggie picks:

  • Boulevard Sésamo (Av. Jiminez, 4-64). A popular vegetarian haunt offering budget-priced lunches, Boulevard Sésamo has speedy service, a salad bar, vegan options and vegetarian versions of typical Colombian comfort food.
  • La Esquina (Ca. 9, 60-91, Chapinero). A light and airy second-floor restaurant with impressively attentive service and some of the best vegetarian sancocho soup around (sancocho is a hearty stew that combines plantains, pumpkin, yucca, potatoes, garlic and cilantro). Packed with plenty of fresh herbs, La Esquina’s food is far from the insipid veggie stereotype.
  • Loto Azul (Ca. 5a, 14-02, La Candelaria). For more than two decades Loto Azul has been serving up delightful vegetarian dishes to both Bogotanos and foreigners. Besides whipping up set-menus accompanied by a fresh salad bar, there’s vegetarian lasagnas, sandwiches and buffets.

Quinua & Amaranto, Bogota (Quinua & Amaranto - Bogotá, La Candeleria 2006 by hannah_y_juan)

  • Pan de Nobles (Ca. 9, 60-91). Downstairs from La Esquina is Pan de Nobles, an excellent vegan bakery with a vegan take-out restaurant just across the road.  Try the restaurant’s incredible vegan burgers.
  • Quinua y Amaranto (Ca. 11,2-95). Located in the historic La Candelaria neighborhood, the charming and atmospherically decorated Quinua y Amaranto gets pretty packed due to its popularity. Great tortilla española (Spanish omelet) and balanced set menus.
Find out more about Bogotá, Colombian cuisine and Colombia in VIVA’s new Colombia Adventure Guideavailable in a variety of e-book applications directly from VIVA, as well as in print format from Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.


Colombia: in the footsteps of Simón Bolívar

Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios Ponte y Blanco, or simply Simón Bolívar (1783-1830), was born into a wealthy Venezuelan family. At age 14, he entered the military academy, and then spent several years in Europe before returning to Venezuela in 1807. In 1810, the Congress of United Provinces of New Granada gave him command of an independence army. Bolívar soon earned himself the nickname “El Libertador” (the Liberator). For the next decade and half, he led battle from Angostura (now Ciudad Bolívar) in Venezuela to Ayacucho, Peru. During these years he faced a temporary exile and various assassination attempts.

A statue ot Bolívar in Washington, USA (Simon Bolivar by cliff1066)

The first Congress of Gran Colombia (1821), uniting Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador, was held in Villa del Rosario, near Cucutá in Colombia; Bolívar was elected President. Gran Colombia, however, was doomed to failure. Once the common enemy–the Spanish–was vanquished, petty regional rivalries surfaced almost immediately which tore the young nation apart. Disheartened by Gran Colombia’s demise, Bolívar journeyed down the Río Magdalena, making his way to his native Caracas. By the time he reached Santa Marta, he was weak. He was given refuge at Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino, where he died of tuberculosis. His body was laid out for public viewing in Santa Marta’s Casa de la Aduana, and then buried in the Cathedral. In 1839 his body was transferred to his native Caracas.

Santa Marta Cathedral by J. Stephen Conn

Besides many plazas being named for Bolívar, Colombia has other sites honoring him: Quinta Bolívar in BogotáCasa de Bolívar in Bucaramanga and Museo Bolivariano-Casa de Bolivar in Soledad, near Barranquilla.  Today, Bolívar’s philosophies continue to be influential in the Bolivariano countries (so-called for those he liberated: Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia) and elsewhere in Latin America.

Bolívar's death bed (Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino by kmuller00)

Bogotá – a city of contrasts

In many ways Colombia‘s capital, Bogotá, epitomizes the Latin American city, with its mix of crumbling colonial architecture and modern office blocks, vast divide between the rich and poor, and soaring population. The third highest capital city in the world (it stands at 2,600 meters – 8,530 ft – above sea level), it is both highly cosmopolitan and, in some regards, stuck in the past. With much to attract the artist, the historian and the pleasure-seeker, Bogotá has become a big destination for world travelers.

Bogotá by night

Though it may not immediately appeal (the daily rain and cloudy skies may have something to do with this), give it time and Bogotá will surely win you over with its abundance of museums, beautiful churches and plazas, sprawling parks, first-class cuisine, and, of course, its famous nightlife. In addition, you will find a thriving art and music scene. Any trip to Bogota should incorporate the historic and cultural center of La Candelaria; the world-renowned Museo del Oro; northern Bogota (in particular Parque de la 93, the Zona T and the Zona Rosa) with its diverse mix of flashy restaurants, bars, clubs and malls; the famous Sunday flea market in Usaquén; and finally, if you’re lucky, a performance at the beautifully ornate Teatro Colon.

Plaza de Bolivar, Bogota by Szeke

Travelers will find that Bogotá has recently undergone a serious makeover, though crime is still prevalent and visitors should be alert around tourist areas and government buildings. However, with massive investments in reviving public spaces, expanding infrastructure and improving social services, the Colombian capital now thrives as a case study of urban transformation in South America.

Old street in La Candelaria by NapaneeGal

Find out more about Bogotá and Colombia in VIVA’s new Colombia Adventure Guideavailable in a variety of e-book applications directly from VIVA, as well as in print format from Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.