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Bogota
 
  To Airline   Fare  
  Bogota Delta Airlines fr £485
  Bogota Air France fr £415
  Bogota Air Canada fr £430
  Bogota Lufthansa Airlines fr £484
 
Colombia's mountain capital, Bogotá is cleaning up its act and moving forward.

Bogotá is the quintessence of all things Colombian: a city of futuristic architecture with diverse culture, a vibrant intellectual life, splendid colonial churches and brilliant museums -on the flip side, you'll find beggars, shantytowns, drug dealers and traffic jams.

A walk around the city streets will reveal the mad to-ing and fro-ing of a busy city: avalanches of busetas (small buses), extravagant stores and lively roadside stalls - it's as fascinating as contemplating the serene colonial atmosphere, so give yourself plenty of time for exploration.

Weather

Bogotá's altitude (2640m/8700ft) means the days are cool and the nights quite chilly year-round. The main dry season lasts from December to March, and there is also a second period, with light rainfall, from July to August. The wettest months are April and October. The mean annual rainfall is about 1020mm (40in). The city's average temperature is 14°C (57°F) year-round, dropping to about 9°C (48°F) at night and rising to around 18°C (64°F) during the day - it's higher when the sun's out. In the rainy season there is less difference between day and night-time temperatures.

A Top Day in Bogota

Bogotá's historic centre, La Candelaria - so I prefer staying there, in the company of colonial-era cobbled streets and tight sidewalks that lead in all directions from the central Plaza de Bolívar. But first I'd start with breakfast at a restaurant atop the Montserrate mountain, reached by a five-minute funicular trip a couple of kilometres north, and eat my eggs with full views of the sprawling capital. Then I'd taxi back to La Candelaria, and stop in the free and wonderful Museo Botero, highlighting the Colombian artist's revelry in all things fat - fat snoozing presidents, fat women bathing, fat cats, fat fingers, fat birds. A shop for Juan Valdez - the moustached coffee icon of Colombia - has a cafe out front which is good for a quick espresso.

For a long, late-afternoon lunch, Fulanitos is an excellent four-century-old restaurant decorated with old bullfight posters and specialising in food from the area around Cali - I'd take a sour lulada fruit drink with my plate of fish or chicken and look over terracotta rooftops.

I might roam a few more backstreets, perhaps poke into an old cathedral or two, then check back at my base at the Platypus hostel/guesthouse to see what fellow travellers, or long-term NGO residents, are doing for the night - and bum a spot in a walking bar-hop around the district.

 
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