Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá

Earlier today I visited a market and a nature preserve near Bogota. Now I am heading to a salt cathedral. The Catedral de Sal in Zipaquirá near Bogota is a marvel to see. The cathedral is built on a site that was once a salt mine. Building a church there wasn’t so far fetched since the original mine did have a sanctuary where miners would go for their prayers before work. Eventually the mine was turned into a church. Structural problems led it to close for many years. After being rebuilt the church opened again in 1995. As of the time of my visit it is said it is having structural problems once more and will close again within 5 years. I feel lucky I am able to visit when I did.

After my tour guide provides me my audio tour and entrance pass I walk inside, 180 meters underground.

I head into tunnels that are lit with colorful lights. One tunnel projects flags of different countries on the ceiling.

After the tunnels I reach a series of nooks that represent the different stations of the cross. Some are accompanied by beautiful lights and music.

I reach an overhang that overlooks the main cathedral below.

I head down the stairs and around the corner to access the church.

Baptism Nave

There is a corridor that connects the three main parts of the church. It has artwork and beautiful chandeliers.

Little lighted nook off to the side
Main Church

As I walk into the church Ave Maria plays and the colors change. I feel like I am witnessing magic happen. I am not spiritual at all but I feel like I am having a spiritual experience.

Down the hall from the church there are a couple other exhibits. Since I am there almost at closing time I end up missing out on the movie presentation but I do walk through a mining exhibit where they talk about emerald mining.

Exhibit of native peoples

Some more beautiful lights.

The park closes so I head back out to find my driver.

He takes me through the nearby town but it is after dark so we do not stop.

As we head back to my hotel in Bogota my driver tries to sell me another tour for tomorrow since it is no car day in the city (tourist drivers have an exception). Wanting to explore the city on my own I turn down his offer. I am impressed that an international city like Bogota can organize a car free day to help the environment.

Today’s tour is expensive but I feel like it was money well spent. Loving Colombia already!

Milford Sound to Queenstown

View from Tutoko Suspension Bridge

I finished my boat tour of Milford Sound by mid-day today. I only planned one night in the area but regretted that decision when I saw the vast number of walking tracks in the area.

I am heading to Queenstown now. No time scheduled for hikes but I do plan on making scenic stops along the way.

First I stop by the campsite in Milford Sound to get the perishables out of the refrigerator. Luckily they are still there.

Tutoko Suspension Bridge

My first stop is at the Tutoko bridge, the last remaining steel suspension bridge on the Milford Road. It is a beautiful day so there are beautiful views from the bridge.

The Chasm

The next stop is to see the Chasm, a series of waterfalls that form a deep and interesting chasm in the rocks. It is beautiful to see but hard to capture by photo.

Chasm car park

Hundred Falls and valley area before Homer Tunnel

On the approach into Milford Sound I was so nervous and preoccupied with the steep and tight curves after leaving the tunnel I didn’t really take the time to stop and appreciate the area. On my return trip I am sure to stop and take some pictures. When it comes to Milford Sound the journey is really the destination. It is hard to resist all the scenic stops. This is probably why the drive is so long.

Homer Tunnel

I have reached the tunnel again. This time with confidence! Unfortunately I am held up by the traffic light quite a while. It is a one-way tunnel and we must wait.

More stops along the way…..

I stop at the recommended Braken Hall in Mossburn for meat pies. It seems like the store might be closing soon. It is nice to get a little lunch break during my drive. I am much closer to Queenstown now.

Devil’s Staircase Lookout Point

A final scenic stop of the day is to the Devil’s Staircase lookout. It is a magnificent view of a big lake, over a part of Lake Wakatipu.

Finally I arrive in Queenstown and check into the holiday park. It is a funky holiday park. It isn’t cheap but is centrally located for easy access to the town area.


Queenstown Holiday Park & Motels Creeksyde

The campsite is nice enough. I retire early for the night.

Cu Chi Tunnels

The second half of my day tour consisted of an optional visit to the Cu Chi tunnels. The tunnels were built as a network of hiding and war strategy by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. During the war they would live and hide in the tunnel system.

As part of our visit we are given a demonstration on how the various booby traps would work to deter the opposing soldiers from finding the hidden Viet Cong.

We are also given a demonstration of a smaller underground hideout.

Various other tunnel entrances.

More examples of traps used.

During a short break there is an optional shooting range. Not really my thing so I sat this activity out. The gun shots coming from the range are loud and consistent.

We get to try out one tunnel. This one isn’t so bad with only just hunching over a bit. There is another longer tunnel to try but it looks way too narrow. I am afraid I’ll be trapped in that one.

Our tour guide shows us different plants in the wild and their medicinal uses. Living in the tunnel system away from hospitals was quite dangerous for the soldiers so they had to learn how to use mother nature.

Tunnel diagram

After my tour I am dropped back off at my hotel.

I spend the evening wandering around Bui Vien street. It gets pretty lively.

I try Bún Bò Huế across the street from my hotel. It is pretty decent and it is a good end to a long day of sightseeing.