Lago de Tota, (often referred to erroneously as Laguna de Tota), is Colombia’s biggest lake
and a beautiful getaway worth the trip for a relaxing weekend or few days. It is in the Colombian department of Boyacá that has several towns worth visiting. Lago de Tota on its own makes for a great trip, but can also easily be combined with stops in other towns in Boyacá such as the popular destination of Villa de Leyva.
Lago de Tota was an important religious center for the indigenous culture that inhabited the area, the Muisca. The name Tota comes from the Chibcha language of the Muisca and according to linguist Mariana Escribano its main name refers to “Astronomic Observatory”, relating to its sacred uses for that culture. Others state that it means “farmfields of the river”. There are legends which relate to the way the lake was formed by the hands of ancient ancestors.
How to get to Lago de Tota
235 km/146 miles away from Bogotá (3-4 hours)
100 km/ 60miles from Tunja (2.5 hours)
143 km/88 miles from Villa de Leyva (2.5 hours)
As of September 2021, bus tickets to Sogamoso (the city closest to Lago de Tota) cost between 30.000-35.000 COP that leave from both the Salitre and North Bus Terminals. From there you can take another bus to the Lake for 7.000 COP. It can also be reached without problems by motorbike, car or even bicycle.
Where to Stay at Lago de Tota
A few years back the only options were to stay in Sogamoso and visit the lake on day trips.
Nowadays there are several options for accommodation around the lake. The main attraction of the Lake is Playa Blanca, as its name indicates is a white sand beach on the shores of this beautiful lake.
Options nowadays range from budget to luxury
-Camping sites that can charge as little as 15.000 COP if you take your own tent and sleeping bag, 25.000 to rent a tent (still have to bring your sleeping bag).
-Guesthouses that overlook the lake with plenty of comfort and even luxury.
-Glamping (luxury-camping) sites that are touted as the eco-friendly option and make for a different accommodation experience. We stayed at Aldea Muisca Glamping and had a fantastic experience. Their domes are spacious, have views of the lake as well as the sky and is next to a forest where we enjoyed hiking. An added plus is that it is pet friendly.
What to do-Activities
Lago de Tota is a very serene and relaxing setting that makes it perfect for slowing down and disconnecting a bit with a good book, your thoughts, or good company. Alternatively, there are also several activities you can do at Lago de Tota such as:
You can walk around the lake either on the main road or in forests around the lake.
Different types of boats ranging from sailboats to kayaks can be used on the lake and make for a nice activity to see the lake. We did ours with a nice local man Genaro León: 311 528 3085 and recommend him.
This is the main attraction for many visitors and is a nice place to visit and you can hang out on the beach, take a boat ride or even take a swim. I recommend to do so when the sun is shining! Due to the pandemic, it has been closed to visitors, but it also makes for a nice view from above if it is closed.
While it might be possible to rent a bicycle there. The best bet is to take your own and enjoy the beautiful scenery on a bicycle. It is hilly around the lake so take into account some effort might be necessary on some parts!
There are people who enjoy riding horses in the area around the lake and the horses can be found
At night you can often see a sky full of stars so make sure to take a look as it is well worth the effort.
A nice activity to enjoy the view is also to take a drive along the main road that goes around the lake.
Visit nearby towns
Coming from Sogamoso you will pass small towns such as Iza, Cuitiva, and Tota and all are worth checking out to see the main square, architecture and feel for these small Boyacá towns.
What to bring
-Clothes for weather that can get very cold at, usually at night.
-A swimsuit if you like to get into every body of water like me
-As with everywhere in Colombia be ready for every type of weather that usually shifts from each season during a single day: Umbrella, Sunblock, sunglasses and hat.
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