Bogotá falls short in sheer numbers of green, open spaces compared to other capital cities I’ve visited – neglected concrete plazas are a more familiar sight (where the developers haven’t got there first) – but it does a good job at compensating for variety with the grand scale of Parque Simón Bolívar.


The rolling expanse of the Parque occupies 400 hectares due east of El Dorado International, around 6 km from the city centre. My only previous encounters with it had been various open-air concerts laid on free of charge by the Alcaldía de Bogotá, which means I’ve managed to see Calle 13, Daddy Yankee and the unforgettably named Willie Colón, but nothing else of the park beyond teeming music lovers and battalions of policía.


This was a big oversight on my part in retrospect, because it’s great. If a park should be the lungs of a city, Parque Simón Bolívar is the rattly oxygen tank to an emphysematous, phlegm-spluttering Bogotá. Truly an island of fresh-aired respite and tranquility. (Low-flying aircraft excluded.)

Aside from the abundant greenery, there are boats to hire to potter around the lake, bike and jogging tracks, and probably ample dogging to be had in the more isolated shrubberies, I don’t know.

I’m most intrigued by the call of Ciclomisa – Cycle-Mass (the Catholic sort) – every Sunday morning. I’m envisioning priests on unicycles wafting incense and incantations towards the faithful. Who are presumably doing laps of penitence.

I thought I saw a waterborne confessional booth mounted on a pedalo out on the lake but it might have been a trick of the light.

I digress. Come to the park and chill out, it’s delightful.