Lake Guatavita, Colombia

Let the natural beauty and the alluring mythology of Colombia’s Lake Guatavita transport you away from your desk this Monday morning. There’s a magic in the mountains of the Colombian Andes. We’re not just talking about the magisterial landscape, but the history and stories that this landscape has inspired.

30 or so miles north-east of the capital of Bogota in the Almedias Province, the crater-lake of Guatavita was brought to popular attention in the middle 1500’s by a conquistador who was traversing the Andes in search of gold. The nearby hot springs attract locals and sojourners year-round, whilst the stark beauty of the formation itself is a big pull for eco-tourists looking to catch a sight of Colombia’s diverse natural splendour.

Guatavita is reportedly one of the sacred lakes of the Muisca – an indigenous population that lived on Colombian soil long before the Spanish arrival. The Zipa, (who ruled over the southern part of ‘Bacata’, now known as Bogota) bore the responsibility of offering gold to the gods.

It is thought that rituals were conducted on Guatavita that saw the Zipa cover himself in gold and float out onto the lake to offer it up to the gods. Many believe that this, and the subsequent gold found at the bottom of Lake Guatavita, was the basis for stories about El Dorado.

Gold is apparently still being dug up and discovered around Guatavita, so who knows, maybe you’ll be the one who finally discovers that long lost, shining city. That’s worth a week or two off, surely…?