In Bogota Most backpackers stay in an area called La Candelaria on the south side of Bogota.
The massive Plaza de Bolivar is at the center of La Candelaria.
While I was hanging out there this kid had no idea what he was getting into when he started feeding a few of the hundreds of pigeons swarming the square.
Close to the third Plaza de Bolivar I had been to in Colombia is the second Iglesia de San Francisco I had been to in Colombia, the first being in the village I had just come from, Villa de Leyva.
Nearby Iglesia de San Diego was much simpler.
About a kilometer from the plaza is Cerro de Monserrate – to get the top you have the option of the teleferico (tram car) or the footpath.
I was feeling like some exercise so I opted for the footpath, a decision which I regretted about 30 minutes later.
From 2007-2010 there was a real problems with robberies along the footpath to the top of Cerro de Monserrate.
Viewpoints that provide views over capital cities in South America seem to be crime magnets. I ended up flatly avoiding going up the footpath to El Panecillo, a hill that looks over Quito. Ecaudor’s capital city is more dangerous than Bogota and there are strenuous warnings in the guidebooks and from current locals alike that warn against hiking it on your own. A German backpacker who I stayed with in Quito was given three verbal warnings by locals to “turn around!” while hiking up to El Panecillo.
I’m guessing muggers in South America figure a footpath to a hill that provides a panoramic viewpoint over the city is ripe with their ideal victims, tourists who want to see the city from above and who will be potentially exposed for 60-120 minutes while hiking to the top of the viewpoint.
Bogota’s response to the growing mugging problem on the way to the top of Cerro de Monserrate? A policeman or a pair of them stationed every 75 meters along the path.
It was a weird thing to have on a hike – I could barely hike 40 meters without the watchful eye of a policeman on me. I guess I felt safe but it was definitely not a “natural” hike.
The footpath to Cerro de Monserrate is very steep but the views got better and better as I went towards the top.