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One of Columbia's major tourist attractions, the Tequendama Falls (or Salto del Tequendama) is a 515-feet high waterfall on the Bogotá River, located about 18 miles southwest of Bogotá in the municipality of San Antonio del Tequendama. Circa 10000 BC, El Abra and Tequendama were found to be the first permanent settlements in Colombia. The river surges through a rocky gorge that narrows to about 60 feet at the brink of the falls. During the month of December the falls become completely dry. The falls may be reached by road from Bogotá via car or bus.
According to Muisca legend, the waterfall was created by Bochica, who used his staff to break the rock and release the water that covered the Bogotá Savannah. According to another legend, during the Spanish conquest in South America, in order to escape slavery the indigenous people of the area would jump off the Salto Del Tequendama and become eagles to fly to their freedom.
The Haunted Hotel
In 1924, the then-luxurious Hotel (Refugio d)el Salto was inaugurated on the cliff facing the waterfall but due to contamination of the river water, believed to be a result of the popular locale, it was closed in the early 90’s. There has been talk of reopening it and restoring it to its former glory (but as a museum or even a police station) which might help rid the place of its apparent ghosts. They are said to haunt the hotel and according to the caretaker, are believed to be from the old days when bar fights on the second story would end up on its balcony, sometimes resulting in a drunk patron losing more than the fight.
On the other hand, there are stories of those who checked out (of life) by jumping off the cliff. That’s right, despite its beauty or perhaps because of it, the falls is a place where people have been known to say their goodbyes. When one would find a letter or some sort of personal item without an owner, it was thought to have been left behind.
The original manor house was constructed a top a cliff in 1923 and its design is credited to the architect, Carlos Arturo Tapias. The elite guests of the Hotel del Sato enjoyed an impressive view of the Taquendama Falls on the Bogotá River but the scene became spoilt by the increasing sewage flowing downstream from several settlements, including the nearby city of Bogotá.
There are rumours of past native suicides at this location, perhaps fuelled by a myth that the indigenous Muisca Indians use to fly off the falls as eagles to their freedom during the Spanish conquest of South America – possibly, during Columbus’ own lifetime. It was once a sacred spot for the Muisca people.
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