The first time I visited Fomeque was at Christmas time last year. I’d just started dating K-Li and had met his family a few days earlier at a novena they were holding at their house. We were both so nervous that night. We walked up the stairs to his mum’s house, giddy like school children, grasping at each other’s sweaty hands.
The next week, we headed to Fomeque to spend Christmas. Fomeque is kind of magical, and the drive there is spectacular. The roads wind further and further into the clouds, thousands of meters above sea level, until we are just as high as the towering mountain of Monserrate. The weather becomes cold, bitter – fog fills the light air and we wind our windows up and put our jackets on. Frailejones line the roads and dot the small hills we drive by as we enter the páramo ecosytem. This is cold country.
We continue down the mountain until the weather becomes more bearable and we stop at a small tienda selling arepas. I could stay here, I thought, looking at he view, forgetting all about the traffic and the noise of Bogotá.
We pass through Choachi, the land of arepas. There are so many different types I nearly explode. Then we make our way to through Unión, which is a town that links Choachi with Fomeque. Here a small colourful building houses the best blueberry ice-creams I have ever tasted. Stuffed with arepas and ice-creams, we finally make it to Fomeque, about an hour and a half from Bogotá. This quiet town is full of interesting characters, big personality, lots of stories and wives tales. It’s a sleepy old town, but there’s something magic going on here. We walk down the street, only to be followed by a small man, with a wide-brimmed hate and a childlike smile on his face. I wondered why he was follow us until K-Li turned around and started talking to the man playfully. His name is Papa Chillo and he is the unofficial mascot of Fomeque. From an unknown beredas, or small town, in the surrounding hills, Papa Chillo has been living in Fomeque as long as anyone can remember. This lovable centenarian has become the face of Fomeque, even immortalised in a mural on a wall in the centre of town.
Like all Colombian towns, Fomeque has it’s plaza mayor with it’s church standing proudly and people milling about. For adventurous types, if sipping tinto on the street is a bit tame for you, then check out the Chinia Falls.
But while Fomeque is definitely off the beaten track, and the tourist map, if you do happen to find yourself in this interesting little pocket while you travel Colombian, then you should definite know the following:
Interesting Fomeque Facts:
- Fomeque means Forest of Foxes in Chibcha language.
- Fomeque is one of the only towns you can visit without paying a toll as you exit Bogotá.
- The road to Fomeque is currently under construction so you can either catch the bus the whole way, taking another route (this takes about 4 hours) or you can take the bus half the way, then trek until another part of the road which will take you the rest of the way. The trek takes about 20 minutes.
- You’ll visit three different ecosystems during your trip – in Bogotá, the Páramo and in Fomeque. Colombia actually has the largest amount of ecosystems in the one country.
- If you visit Chingaza National Park, which is very close to Fomeque, you can spot Condor de los Andes, the national symbol of Colombia.
- Chingaza Lake, provides potable water to 80% of the population in Bogotá.
- Fomeque also holds the Guinness World Record for having the most Nissan Patrol H60s on the road. Check out the video.