Varsana Eco Yoga Village near Bogotá – my first weekend in Colombia
I haven't even been in Colombia for a week and I've already planned a weekend trip – a short one that doesn't require a lot of hours on a bus. Together with other students from Colombia and some international students as well as some that already work we went to the charming Varsana Eco Yoga Village in Granada located about an hour from Bogotá.
Just a note: I don't do any yoga, but I'm always curious, so I took the chance and signed up for this weekend. Since I've wanted to get to know some more people this was the perfect opportunity for it! When I signed up I didn't know how many yoga classes we'd be having.
Leaving Bogotá, vamos a Varsana!
We met in the afternoon in Bogotá, but since many were late (or don't take time that seriously) we waited for a good 45 minutes (because Latin America ). We started driving and driving and driving. Sometimes I forget how big cities can be. It took me an hour to get to the meeting point from where I live.
On the hills of East Bogotá, I spotted some very simple houses (some probably don't count as houses anymore, but rather barracks). You might think that the city is dull, but the Bogotanos mastered to overcome this by spraying gorgeous graffiti to make their city more lively and more colourful.
After an hour drive we arrive in Granada, our small bus stops in front of an arch with a small sign on the side indicating that we've made it to Varsana.
When you enter you let the reality behind and dive into a surreal world with its own cosmos. I'm amazed how green everything is, how many temples with beautiful roofs there are and how there's a little fountain on the way to the small square in front of the restaurant. The only thing that disturbs this world are the noises from the highway.
We are being welcomed by a young lady – she wears an Indian gown and has small decoration on her forehead. She leads us to a small meadow where we start setting up our tents. Most of the Colombians don't seem to have set up a tent before – my sense for adventure kicks in and with the right instructions our tent is the first to stand. I can't wait to explore this place so I leave our camping meadow behind:
A small world
The land is steep, some parts are covered by trees so you can't see it all at once. In the back, where we set up our tents, some rocks rise and with a closer look I spot an elephant. A HUGE elephant. It is not a real one but carved into the rocks. I'm so fascinated by it that I don't even see the monstrous snake that's right beside it and then I freeze.
The stone snake with its voracious jaws wide open, the fangs longer than my arms. A tunnel leads down her throat. I don't dare to walk down there, instead I keep walking and find more statues after that. I keep thinking that it must be really creepy when the sun is down.
We meet again later in the small shop and restaurant where we enjoy our dinner on the second floor sitting on cushions on our knees.
What's the special thing about the food in Varsana? Everything is grown on the finca and all dishes are vegetarian – my heart smiles!
One of the eldest from the village comes and tells us about her daily life in the commune and their beliefs in Hare Krishna. We all hang on her lips, most of us have heard about this belief before but never had a first-hand experience like this.
We lose track of time and when we step outside it's already dark – only the stars in the sky are there. And it's cold. Really cold.
I start thinking about staying in the house instead of the tent. But most houses in Colombia don't have heaters and are poorly isolated so I walk back to the tents. I'm getting myself a third sleeping bag and lay down. Once in my sleeping bags, I'm not cold anymore and fade away into a dreamy world. But I do wake up several times during the night, I'm warm under the many layers but my face is freezing.
Around half past five, a noise wakes us up: a kitten! It miaows wholeheartedly. It must feel cold as well. I can't help but check the temperature on my phone: chilly 2°C! Brrr!
Day 2 in Varsana
After our cat encounter, we are off to our yoga session. Positions, warriors and postures are what we are taught and I realise once again how little I can move (can't touch my toes when bending over). Since I didn't sleep much at night I fight with a headache and eventually have to give up. I still stay and observe the others and see how they do.
The night was cold, but the day is just perfect and warm. We enjoy our breakfasts on the meadow and I love how tasty fruits are in Colombia:
A Walk through Paradise
After the delicious breakfast and having charged our batteries in the sun, we are invited to explore the rest of Varsana. We encounter even more of the giant stone statues and find out what they grow in their gardens. We are taught more about the Hare Krishna lifestyle. I'm impressed that they grow all their food themselves and I'm glad that they teach their visitors the importance of organic food and even mention Monsanto (many haven't heard of them before).
We keep on wandering through this paradise and get to a small stream and a well – some of us are brave enough to lay down in the fresh water. After the tour, we have to say goodbye and make our way back through the mountains to Bogotá.
The whole trip was organised by Outlanders Colombia and IBSA (an organisation for international students) and cost 30,000 pesos – that's not even 10€ including transportation, camping, dinner, breakfast, yoga class and a guided walk around the finca.
You can visit Varsana free of charge, but yoga classes and guided walks have a cost. Here you'll find further information about Varsana.
Have you even been here or a similar paradise-like place? Let me know in the comments – I'm curious, as always!