We have uncovered the Legend of El Dorado (meaning “the guilded one”) in Bogota, Colombia! Once a bird told the Spanish Conquistadors, that the indigenous threw an abundance of gold into a lake as offering to mother earth… the legend began. Was it a lost city? What kind of gems existed? Where was the gold? The legend taunted “gringos”.
Expeditions by Europeans led them through the Amazon and parts of South America in search of El Dorado throughout the 1500s. In 1638, the truth came out. Turns out, the El Dorado myth originated with an indigenous chief who covered himself in honey, then gold dust! He was then rowed out of the middle of Lake Guatavita, just outside of Bogota, Colombia, and jumped into the lake. In addition, gold figures were thrown into the lake as offerings.
Knowing the truth, our search for El Dorado was easy. First, we took a day trip out to Lake Guatavita. We did a group hike up to the lake! Yes, all 40 of us were hiking up the skinny trail in a single-file line. Along the hike we heard the not too surprising story of different groups of Europeans trying to drain the lake to get the goods for years. Formerly, the water level was up to the rim (where we were standing). Now, however, the water level is significantly lower. Despite these drastic efforts, they never got down to the gold and never found the El Dorado...
A weekend later, we visited the Museo de Oro (Gold Museum) downtown Bogota. The gold was impressively on display for all to enjoy. If only the Spanish Conquistadors could have seen the display of gold. It was incredible.