Category Archive: Boyaca

View of Lake Tota

Top Things To Know About Visiting Iza

Impress your friends and family by sharing some of the top things to know about visiting Iza.  This town and municipality in the Boyaca Department is a great jump off point to the nearby attraction, Lake Tota.

But there’s more to Iza than being just a short stop on the way to Lake Tota.  Here are couple of top things to know about Iza.

Green nest of Boyaca.  It’s no surprise that Iza is known as the “Green Nest of Boyaca”, with its rustic charms and abundant greenery which makes the landscape of the town even more attractive.

It was once named Sta. Isabel.  Back in 1895, Iza was renamed Santa Isabel, for a very peculiar reason:  “Iza” means “concubine” or “prostitute” in Spanish.  But for the locals, Iza comes from the indigenous word “Za” which means “night”.

But thankfully, the change in name was short-lived and Iza is now known as “Iza” once again.

View of Lake Tota

View of Lake Tota

Colonial Wonder.  Take a stroll around Iza and marvel at the town’s colonial architecture.  The Hispanic and Italian influence in Iza is much more evident in pine-tree and hydrangea-lined Plaza Mayor, which is a perfect stop on Sundays when locals sell their best obleas or Colombian sweets and pastries.

Trout and terrines anyone?  Weekenders will certainly enjoy fruit terrines and trout in Iza.  Choose from trout smothered in garlic and butter, or grilled trout which is served from most of the eateries and restaurants in Iza.  While there isn’t much variety as to the preparation of the trout in most of these eateries, you can certainly enjoy the ambiance of most of the restaurants in Iza as most of them as most of them has expanded their restaurants to included their very own private theme parks.

Hot Thermal Springs.  One of the top things to know about visiting Iza is that they have some of the best thermal springs in Colombia.  These thermal springs have healing properties due to the minerals the waters have.  So whether you’re seeking ways sooth rheumatic pains, or simply relaxing your tired and aching muscles after a long day of strolling, then there’s no better place to go to than Iza’s  hot thermal springs.

Lake Tota, the largest lake in Colombia

Top Things To Know About Lake Tota

Before you embark on your journey to this famous Boyaca destination, it’s important that you are acquainted with the top things to know about Lake Tota.  This lake is a tributary to the Upia River, which in turn flows to the Orinoco River basin.

Lake Tota, the largest lake in Colombia

Lake Tota, the largest lake in Colombia

Lake Tota is surrounded by quaint towns and villages, such as Aquitana, Tota, Iza and Cuitiva.

Here are some of the top things to know about Lake Tota, aside from those mentioned above.

Lake Monster.  One of the most interesting top things to know about Lake Tota is that it is home to the mythical Lake Tota Monster.   According to local accounts, the monster is described as resembling a giant black snake, similar to the monstrous snake battled by the mythical hero of the Muisca culture.

Whether the legend holds water or not (pun not intended), it still adds to the charm of Lake Tota, making it an interesting destination in the Boyaca department

Land for Farming.  The word “Tota” actually means “Land for Farming” in the indigenous dialect.  Its rich soils are perfect for growing one of the Boyaca department’s largest agricultural economy, onions.  90% of the onions consumed by Colombia come from the rich, farm lands around Lake Tota.

Playa Blanca.  Pictures of this cove are often mistaken for that of a seaside beach.  But who can blame them?   Lake Tota’s cove is lined with fine white sands, similar to those you can see in other famous beaches around the world.

Playa Blanca is a great place to spend with your family and friends, where you can enjoy water sports and activities such as sailing, or simply soaking up some sun and bathing in their clear blue waters.

Iza.  Lake Tota’s close proximity to Iza allows you to enjoy the wonders this town has to offer.  After a tiring day of travelling to Lake Tota’s Playa Cove, or after getting your fill of butter garlic or grilled trout, heading out to Iza’s thermal springs is a perfect way to cap the day.

Tunja, Capital of the Department of Boyacá

Top Reasons To Visit Boyacá

One of the top reasons to visit Boyacá is that it features many facets of Colombia. Its central location means that it shares the natural bounties of surrounding regions. It has lush forests, beautiful lagoons, highlands, snow-capped mountains, and teeming wildlife. But this is just one reason to visit Boyacá as there are many others.

Reason #1: Boyacá is the gateway to Colombia

Buses travel between cities throughout the country. With Boyacá at its middle, the region serves as a gateway to neighboring departments including Santander, Arauca, Casanare, Meta, Cundinimarca, Antioquia, and Caldas. It makes a great starting point for traveling to these places but can also be used as a route for traveling across several borders.

Reason #2: See what “The Land of Freedom”is like

The state played an important role in the liberation of Colombia from colonialists. It had been the site of many battles in the pursuit of freedoom. Colombians, most notably locals of Boyacá take pride in this fact which is why there is a stong sense of nationalism throughout the region. Today’s people are no militia however. Most Boyacá families live in peace and cultivate farmlands; just as what they have been doing in the past hundred years. People are very friendly too and this is one of the top reasons to visit Bocayá. They are warm and hospitable even though they seem reserved.

Tunja, Capital of the Department of Boyacá

Tunja, Capital of the Department of Boyacá

“The Land of Freedom” is thus dominated by an atmosphere of rurality but this isn’t always the case. Unviersity cities like Tunja does liven up the sleepy state. In the backdrop, Boyacá is blessed by nature’s bounties and home to breathtaking sceneries. It also has a historical undertone evidenced by attractions like the Boyacá Bridge National Monument, the exact site where Spanish suffered from defeat in the hands of Simon Bolivar and his troop; winning Colombia its independence.

Reason #3: Marvel at natural wonders

The highlands of Boyacá hold some of the most interesting attractions in the country. One of which is the Oceta Highlands which is green most of the year. Stone City,  a group of natural outcroppings located on the highlands, is one of the top reasons to visit Boyacá. Other notable sites in the region include the Cocuy Mountain Range which has some lagoons, 23 peaks, as well as a multitude of flaura and fauna ranging from rare to common species. A must-see is Tota Lagoon which has a unique ecosystem.

A view of Tunja

Top Tourist Attractions In Tunja

Fundamentally, Columbia is known for its other cities such as Bogota and Cartagena but the top tourist attractions in Tunja will also never let down your expectations. It is not the first choice in anyone’s itinerary but once you get there that’s the time that you can truly cherish the great destinations it can offer you. Located in the Altiplano Cundiboyacense, Tunja is a place that is very much away from the city’s busy life.

One of the destinations that you should visit is the famous colonial mansion called Casa Del Fundador Suarez Rendon. It is one massive colonial mansion as old as the 16th century and definitely a beauty at its best. You might be fooled with its exterior but don’t lose your interest because you will find what you’re looking for inside the mansion with its magnificent interior. It’s definitely a prized place and absolutely one of the top tourist attractions in Tunja.

A view of Tunja

A view of Tunja

Aside from the tourist spots in Tunja, the city is also well-known for its festivals. One of those is the International festival of culture. Its origin is dated back in 1973 which showcases theater, film, diverse art exhibitions, tango and a lot more. Another one is the famous Aguinaldo Boyacense which is a festival celebrated annually on the month of December.  It lasts a week with parades of floats, music, cultural events, arts, sports, children’s competitions and other more. The most anticipated event in the festival is the amazing fireworks display at night which is very beautiful.

Last but not the least, is the Sierra Nevada del Cocuy. Its white peaks are quite a sight to see and travelers will surely love the beautiful scenery. Spice up your vacation by hiking but do take note that climbing the top, though very tempting, should be for professionals only. Most likely tourists can go around the area and visit lakes, waterfalls and other spectacular places with the aid of a tourist guide. Although it is recommended that for you to truly appreciate the beauty of Sierra Nevada del Cocoy is for you to spend at least a week to cherish a moment of tranquility and peace, away from the busy city.

If you have set your mind to visit Columbia and tour around the country then don’t forget to visit the top tourist attractions in Tunja. Do consider it on top of your list because the place is home to a lot of vacation getaways. Added to its tourism is the security of the place for it has the lowest crime rate in the country. You may think that it may not be the best place to spend your vacation but sometimes great things come in small cities and you just have to experience it yourself and hope that it might be one of your most memorable trips ever.