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6 September 2012 / leggypeggy

Steam train adventure in Bogotá

Steam engine

Steam engine pulling into Usaquén Station

Everybody loves steam trains and Poor John and I were lucky enough to spend the good part of a day chugging along on one in Colombia.

Known as the Tren Turistico de la Sabana, the choo-choo runs on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays, but the steam engine makes its appearance only on Saturdays.

The train heads out about 8:30am from La Sabana Station, although we caught it about an hour later at the Usaquén Station which was a lot closer to our hostel.

The trip and the day are true family affairs, and very popular with Colombians. I reckon there were at least 12 carriages, seating about 50 people each. Ours was full and I assume most others were too, and there were no more than 5 per cent non-South Americans. Spanish was the language of the day.

It was very touching to see what probably were divorced fathers taking their children on a day’s outing. Dads doing cartwheels, buying ice creams and souvenirs, giving the biggest hugs you can imagine and looking very despondent at the end of the day.

Farm on the savannah

View from the train—a farm on the savannah

Our carriage had a wedding party—two young people from Australia, with Colombian heritage, were ‘home’ to get married. They and many of their Aussie and Colombian guests were out for the day and full of merriment.

The strolling band helped to get everyone going. The six-piece band played in the station while passengers boarded, but they also wandered the length of the train, playing rousing Latin tunes in each carriage.  A two-man band came through later in the journey. After a couple of tunes, they asked if the crowd wanted an encore. The cries of ‘yes’ were answered with a good-humoured sales pitch for their CD.

Band on train

The band played on

The train travels 53 kilometres to Zipaquirá. We had a laugh coming into town, which was reminiscent of the little train that thought it could. Our engine had to go forward and then backwards  a long way three times in order to get up enough steam to make it up the slight incline into Zipaquirá.

From Zipaquirá, passengers have a few choices for side trips they can make.

We took the bus trip to the Salt Cathedral (more about that soon) on the edge of Zipaquirá. We had more than an hour to visit the cathedral, which is underground in a salt mine.

After that, the bus delivered us to Cajicá, a typical town in the savannah, where we could have lunch before returning to the train.

The bus dropped us outside its ‘recommended’ restaurant. But there was plenty of time so we struck out on our own to explore the town and find a place that was less commercial.

We found a great little spot to eat—stay tuned.

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4 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. lmo58 / Sep 7 2012 5:40 pm

    That sounds like a lovely day out Peggy. Trains are the best. You can see so much more than you can from a bus.

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Sep 7 2012 7:45 pm

      There was so much to see. I have to restrain myself on posting pics.

      Like

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