Many hopes of finding El Dorado, it was once believed, converged on this small, circular lake about 50km northeast of Bogotá, which served as the sacred lake and ritual center of the Muisca people. It was in these precious waters that the Muisca's cacique (indigenous tribal head) would offer the Gods elaborate gold pendants and figurines, which were sunk in a ritual believed to fuel his Godlike power.
The town of Guatavita, 18km southwest, is the chief gateway. The town was created in the mid-1960s – for locals displaced by the nearby reservoir Embalse de Tominé – and does a fine job of re-creating the white-washed Spanish colonial template, with a bullring and a pedestrian mall center with souvenir shops, restaurants, a museum and a hotel or two. It's dead quiet during the week, but avoid both on Sundays if possible, when everyone and their mother goes.