Zipaquirá is where most tourists head to see the famous Catedral de Sal. In the nearby town of Nemocón, it’s possible to get a much more in-depth look at the salt mining industry. The Mina de Sal de Nemocón is a working salt mine in use for over 400 years. You’ll be able to visit a part of the mine that’s not currently in use but features some incredible things inside. It’s still touristy but for us it was a much better experience than the Catedral de Sal in Zipaquirá.
Admission is COP$24,000 for adults and COP$14,000 for children (as of June 2017) and includes a 90 minute guided tour in Spanish. It’s possible to reserve a guided tour in English by calling in advance.
The first part of the tour is in the small museum. The guide talks about the formation of salt in the area and some of the animals that lived there in prehistoric times.
Entering the Mine
After the museum, guests are given a hard hat to wear inside the mine and escorted to the entrance. It’s a short and sometimes slippery walk down the mine shaft to the first tunnel and a quick orientation.
The natural mirror is the next stop. This small pool of water runs the length of the tunnel and makes a perfect reflection of everything around it. The colored lighting adds to the effect. Guests are given the opportunity to buy a photo of their group next to the pool.
Continuing along, we were shown movie props from the movie “Los 33” starring Antonio Banderas. It’s about the 2010 Chilean mining disaster in which 33 men were trapped underground for 69 days before being rescued. Part of the movie was filmed in this mine.
Next, we were shown a salt cascade, a small salt church in which local weddings are sometimes performed, and a heart made out of solid salt.
The rest of the tour showed us how water was used to extract salt from the mine along with a small history of salt mining in Colombia.
The town of Nemocón is fairly small but beautiful. The main plaza has a nice church and is surrounded by colorful colonial style buildings. There are some restaurants in town catering to tourists.
A small museum, Museo de Sal, is located on the plaza. It costs COP$2,000 per person to enter. It contains some nicely made scenes depicting the town’s history and the history of salt production.
There’s no direct transport from Bogotá to Nemocón. Buses run frequently between Nemocón and Zipaquirá at a cost of COP$2,650 (as of April 2015). The ride takes just under a half hour. You can get out of the bus near the entrance to the salt mine.