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I found the Taj Mahal in the middle of Colombia.
No, the Caribbean sun did not get to me. This place really does exist, just a half hour drive from the capital of Bogota at a place called Jaime Duque Park (Parque Jaime Duque).
What is Jaime Duque Park
Founded in 1983 by a former pilot turned philanthropist, the sprawling, 70-acre site was created as a way to bring the treasures of the world to Colombians, and help educate visitors about history and geography. It’s kind of like a bizarre, scaled-down version of Disneyland, and best of all it’s pretty much off the radar of most tourists.
By far the most awe-inspiring part of the entire park is the life-sized replica of India’s famous Taj Mahal. OK, so it’s not blindingly white like the real one, but it’s still a total thrill to find the next best thing just off a highway in the middle of South America!
Take corny photos in front of it (you know, the kind where you pretend you’re touching the top with your finger), or walk inside the towering building where a massive chandelier greets visitors and the walls are decorated with knock-offs of world-famous artworks like the statue of David.
The park also hosts all of the other ‘world wonders’ like Russia’s famous Red Square, the Temple of Zeus and the Colossus of Rhodes. While they’re not 1:1 replicas like the Taj Mahal, they’re still fun to check out—especially if you don’t plan on hitting Greece anytime soon.
Attractions at Parque Jaime Duque
If architecture isn’t your thing there are still a crazy amount of attractions at Jaime Duque Park, like an aviary with tropical birds which just so happens to also hold a gigantic map of Colombia. Or, hop on the battleship or pirate ship, and check out the life-size cannons while learning more about the country’s fight-filled past.
Animal lovers will be entertained by a walk through the zoo, which is home to the likes of lions, tigers, monkeys, water buffalo, ostriches and a hippo. There are also a couple of ‘cheetahs’ that I think were actually just painted cats, but that’s a story for another day.
If you’re more of a Jurassic Park-type, you may enjoy the Dinosaur Garden which has some huge dino models as well as information about their time roaming the earth.
History buffs will enjoy exhibits like Outfits of the World which details the last 3,000 years-worth of fashion, or the Museum of Man in the Universe which features hundreds of life-size sculptures explaining important moments throughout history.
While Jaime Duque Park may be geared towards families with lots of activities for the kids, it’s well worth a trip for adults, too. Be sure to budget at least half a day—the site is huge!
- How to get there: Jaime Duque Park is located off the Autopista Norte in Tocancipa, Cundinamarca, a short distance from Bogota. In the likely chance you don’t have a car to drive there on your own, jump on any bus headed to Tocancipa, Gachancipa, Sesquile, Guatavita or Tunja, and get off at the Briceno bus stop. There are also guided tours, including this one which includes a visit to the nearby Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira. Click here to book
- Cost: 23,000 pesos per person (about $12) for basic entrance, and 30,000 for a ticket that includes things like drinks and a pony ride.
- Top tip for visiting Jaime Duque Park: Go on a weekday to avoid the crush of the weekend crowds. Oh, and it’s pronounced ‘Hi-may Duke-ay’ if you need to ask around about it!
YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY:
- Fun things to do in Bogota, Colombia
- Why Cartagena is Colombia’s Caribbean treasure
- The Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira: Colombia’s underground church
This article was originally published in June 2014 and updated in October 2020
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