Apr 02, 2022
6 mins read
Max elevation 2,519 m (8,264 ft), max incline/gradient 27%
Most satisfying hike I've done to this day, and probably the hardest.
I saw the name on the map on my way from Bogotá to Villa de Leyva, and Witches Patio sounded really cool, so I knew I want to get there - shout out to all the witches: this is a really neat gathering spot! 😉
Situated about half way between Villa de Leyva and Raquira (a nice little town famous for it's many artisans and artisanal products that I didn't visit 😆 you'll see why), hard to access and not properly marked in any way, the Witches Patio, an astronomical observatory and a magical spot, is about 400 m rough ascend from either sides, 3.5h hike one way - according to Google (and now we all laugh about Google's accuracy when it comes to these things?).
I left the hostel around 9:30-10 (the kitchen was opening late, and I didn't want to go out for a potentially difficult hike on an empty stomach) with the intention to take a bus to Raquira, from Raquira find a Tuk Tuk or some sort of transportation to get me to the patio, and return by foot before sunset. As I was walking to the bus, it crossed my mind that I could actually rent a bike from Raquira if I can't find a Tuk Tuk, and then it hit me: hey, why not rent a bike from my hostel instead, and go from Villa de Leyva with it?! 🤯💡
Done: bike rented for 8-9 h with a funny look from the hostel owner because they don't know if I can ride a bike, nor do they know how hard that ride would be, as no one goes there, and I am heading out of town, very optimistic about my 7-8 h of daylight left, especially since it was only 3.5 h one way by foot (😂 that's not how mountains and Google maps work, so laugh with me, and I'll mention the hot summer day and the only 800 ml water bottle).
First third of the way was super fast, on the main road, mostly descending, I was to worry about it going up on return, maybe walk by the bicycle because I had enough time. Then we went (me and my bike, it is known you become best buddies with your bike when it's just you and her for many hours) off the main roads, following a dirt road uphill, on and off the bike when the incline was too much - it was easy too much at that altitude with no biking uphill or off road training or experience, but I was relaxed for the first hour at least, knowing it will be easier on return (laughing about this assumption now too, as I'm writing this days later and nothing hurts anymore after that "easy" descend 😆).
About 2h later I was still on and off the bike, still with steep hills ahead, and even though I followed all the existent paths, Google was showing me off road, in the middle of nowhere, as it also looked occasionally, and at this point I was just hoping for enough wisdom to know when to return if I need to, in order to have daylight (being close to equator, sun sets around 6 PM, so it's time sensitive). I was enjoying how quiet it was, I was only hearing some birds and the wind, with the background silence being very intense! 🥰
Around 1-1:30 PM I was still more than 30 minutes away on the maps, and I haven't seen anyone in hours (good! 😤🤫). The road was not accessible by car, and since I had to pick up and carry the bike a couple of times, I knew it's unlikely to be accessible by scooter either, so I'm on my own, and also need to be more cautious. No stores or signs showing anything in a while, and I was almost out of water (by default, I never finish my water when hiking, but I was thirsty, and this was one lucky day in weeks when it didn't start raining early afternoon, so the sun was making it... uhm, nice for the pictures?.. 🤭), with only 1 brownie and 1 tomato 🍅 I picked up on the side of the road earlier (solid lunch plans!) in my daypack. I know my body well enough to be able to approximate how far I can get with what I have and return, and I had also seen a few tiny streams of water on the side of the road in the previous 2 h to hope that there will be one big and clean enough for me to refill my water bottle, and I was happy to find one before I needed to drink all my water. It looked clean, it didn't smell funny, it didn't taste funny, so happy moment, I refilled my bottle and I was able to continue for what seemed like ages but it was only 40 more minutes up and down hill, off and on the bike, up and down again, hey, macarena! 😆💅💃
The last hill was nice and chill - literally chill, unknowingly to me, I was at 2519 m altitudine and it stopped being too hot a while back - and I finally saw the place from the pictures, from afar, I rode my bike towards it, hearing music from the little building near it (I never saw anyone coming out from it, but the music was on and the maps were showing it as a grocery store), happy and extremely satisfied that I've made it there and found the place after all that effort (it was really hard! 🤣😆🙈). C
I circled around to examine the location and all the cool stuff you can see in the pictures, did my witchy things, looked dissatisfied at the 3 people who arrived not even 10 minutes later with a car from the opposite direction and started doing their way more obvious witchy things in my hard conquered space (fine, it's for all witches, even the ones who don't do a mini pilgrimage, but ride comfy in a car), drank more water, ate my brownie, ate my tomato, examined the inscriptions, drank more water, wondered about the ash in the spiral, rested under a tree, and then left looking forward to the downhill parts.
There weren't as many downhill parts as I remembered. It was mostly downhill, yes, but with a lot of ups and downs, at least in the first hour. It was getting late and the sun was less strong, so I was no longer worried about the water - I was slightly worried about the fireball in the sky and the wind in my face. The dirt road wasn't as friendly to ride downward as the main roads from the beginning were, and it was occasionally too steep to go fast, which allowed me to spend enough time looking at how amazingly beautiful my surroundings were! 😍 I did not stop to take more than a few pictures, but I enjoyed the heck out of the astonishing display of wild beauty reserved for my eyes only, after all that effort 😍 And I want, and don't want people to know about this hike, because it's like this partially due to not being popular.
A while after reaching the nice smooth roads I got a flat tire, which didn't bothered me too much, because it gave me the perfect excuse to not try harder being on the bike for the final ascent part. I caught a ride with some nice people passing by who noticed it, and easily fixed it in town (ever since I was a child, I've always watched fascinated the fixing flat tires procedure, it's one of the things I wouldn't mind learning how to do if I ever settle down somewhere).
I returned to the hostel successful, with awesome pictures, inspiring a couple of people to do it as well, because they didn't really hear about it before the hostel team told them that this girl is going on this adventure, so the initial doubt (mine or theirs?) was replaced by "OMG, this is amazing, you're such a badass, I want to do it too!" 😆🤣😂
Most satisfying hike I've done to this day, and probably the hardest.