Lake Suesca

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Lake Suesca
Laguna de suesca 02.JPG
View of the lake from the east
Colombia relief location map.jpg
Red pog.svg
Lake Suesca
Location Suesca & Cucunubá,
Coordinates 5°11′N73°47′W / 5.183°N 73.783°W / 5.183; -73.783 Coordinates: 5°11′N73°47′W / 5.183°N 73.783°W / 5.183; -73.783
Type Intermontane
Basin  countriesColombia
Max. length6 kilometres (3.7 mi) [1]
Max. width2 kilometres (1.2 mi) [1]
Average depth8 metres (26 ft) [1]
Surface elevation2,800 m (9,200 ft) [2]
View of the lake from the east Laguna de suesca 01.JPG
View of the lake from the east

Lake Suesca is a natural water body situated on the Altiplano Cundiboyacense, belonging to the municipalities of Suesca and Cucunubá in the department of Cundinamarca, Colombia. The basin has a semi-elliptical shape that extends on a north–south axis, with roughly 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) length and 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) width. [1] The average depth is 8 metres (26 ft). It is located in the Eastern Ranges, on the anticlinal of Nemocón, in the northeast of the department, at an altitude of 2,800 metres (9,200 ft). [2]



Geology and soils

Geologically, the lake is of Pleistocene origin and is linked to the formation of the Eastern Ranges, which had a strong uprising activity during the Pliocene. Because of its location there is a wide distribution of sedimentary rocks, and the Guadalupe Group, Guaduas, Bogotá and Cacho formations are present in the area. The basin is crossed along its axis by the Suesca Fault, uplifting sandstone. [2] [3] [4]

The soils of the basin are classified as alfisols, where erosion areas are classified as "bad soils". Generally these correspond to cold and dry climates, with corrugated relief and highly evolved soils, where the presence of erosion is common, and most horizons have enrichment with clay. These soils were formed during the Pliocene and Quaternary, containing deposits of volcanic ash from the Cordillera Central, which weathered into clays, currently present in the lower strata. [4]

Vegetation and climate

The original vegetation was composed of encenillo and "corono" forests, accompanied by more xerophytic Andean communities, which correspond to the Low montane dry forest (bs-MB) according to the Holdridge life zones. The actual land cover is dominated by exotic species, mostly Acacia decurrens , with few remnants of native vegetation in the north and south of the basin. [3] [4]

From a climatic point of view, the region has a bimodal rainfall regime, with an annual average of 647 mm, average temperatures of 14 °C, 70% relative humidity and evaporation of 1331 mm/year. The winds are a determinant factor for the vegetation and climate, as they are mainly influenced by Sabana de Bogotá, Magdalena River Valley and the Orinoco Plains, which converge in the area to generate specific characteristics from the point of view of moisture and the feasibility of rainfall. [3]

The region is under the jurisdiction of the Corporación Autonoma Regional de Cundinamarca (CAR) (environmental authority) and its central axis (north–south) serves as the boundary between the municipalities of Cucunubá and Suesca.

Muisca sacred lake

As with various other lakes on the Altiplano, Tota, Siecha, Guatavita and Iguaque, the Muisca who were the original inhabitants of the area before the Spanish conquest of the Muisca, performed religious rituals at Lake Suesca. [5]

Environmental issues

The basin has suffered severe deforestation and erosion, which together have negatively affected the lake ecosystem, which added to the impact of climate change have led to a significant reduction of the water surface. Plans for sustainable development are made in recent years. [6]

Since 1970, a soil remediation process with Acacia decurrens , Pinus patula and Eucalyptus globulus was started, but due to the lack of management, the problems related with water scarcity due to the reduction of runoff and water contained in the soil increased. Nowadays the entire basin is located within a forest reserve that has little management by the authorities.

By oral tradition, it is known that the lake had a great variety of species, such as "Guapucha" (Grundulus bogotensis ) and "Capitan de la Sabana" ( Eremophilus mutisii ), now locally extinct due to the desiccation of the water body and the introduction of carp and trout, which also disappeared by the same effect of El Niño in 1998. [7]

The lake is an important stop-over for many migratory birds, but few counting exercises have been made in the area.

Places of interest

See also

Related Research Articles

Cundinamarca Department Department of Colombia

Department of Cundinamarca is one of the departments of Colombia. Its area covers 22,623 square kilometres (8,735 sq mi) and it has a population of 2,919,060 as of 2018. It was created on August 5, 1886 under the constitutional terms presented on the same year. Cundinamarca is located in the center of Colombia.

Lake Tota

Lake Tota, the largest lake in Colombia, located in the east of Boyacá department, inside the Sugamuxi Province, it is the source of the Upia River which flows into the Orinoco River basin.

Lake Guatavita Lake in Cundinamarca Department, Colombia

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Zoratama, also spelled as Soratama, was a Muisca woman and the lover of Spanish conquistador Lázaro Fonte. Her story reminds of the North American indigenous Pocahontas who married John Rolfe after saving the life of John Smith.

Altiplano Cundiboyacense Plateau in the Columbian Andes

The Altiplano Cundiboyacense[altiˈplano kundiβoʝaˈsense] is a high plateau located in the Eastern Cordillera of the Colombian Andes covering parts of the departments of Cundinamarca and Boyacá. The altiplano corresponds to the ancient territory of the Muisca. The Altiplano Cundiboyacense comprises three distinctive flat regions; the Bogotá savanna, the valleys of Ubaté and Chiquinquirá, and the valleys of Duitama and Sogamoso. The average altitude of the altiplano is about 2,600 metres (8,500 ft) above sea level but ranges from roughly 2,500 metres (8,200 ft) to 4,000 metres (13,000 ft).

Nemocón Place in Cundinamarca, Colombia

Nemocón is a municipality and town of Colombia in the Central Savanna Province, part of the department of Cundinamarca. Nemocón, famous for its salt mine, was an important village in the Muisca Confederation, the country in the central Colombian Andes before the arrival of the Spanish. The municipality is situated in the northern part of the Bogotá savanna, part of the Altiplano Cundiboyacense with its urban centre at an altitude of 2,585 metres (8,481 ft) and 65 kilometres (40 mi) from the capital Bogotá. Nemocón is the northeasternmost municipality of the Metropolitan Area of Bogotá and the Bogotá River originates close to Nemocón. The median temperature of Nemocón is 12.8 °C. The municipality borders Tausa in the north, Suesca and Gachancipá in the east, Tocancipá and Zipaquirá in the south and in the west the rivers Checua and Neusa and the municipality of Cogua.

Suesca Municipality and town in Cundinamarca, Colombia

Suesca is a town and municipality in the Almeidas Province, part of the department of Cundinamarca, Colombia. It is located on the Altiplano Cundiboyacense at 59 kilometres (37 mi) north from the capital Bogotá. Suesca forms the northern edge of the Bogotá savanna and is a scenic countryside town which is well known because its landscape attracts devotees of rock climbing, trekking, and rafting. It is surrounded by dairy farms and flower plantations. The municipality borders Cucunubá and Lenguazaque in the north, Sesquilé and Gachancipá in the south, Chocontá in the east and Nemocón in the west.

Bogotá savanna

The Bogotá savanna is a montane savanna, located in the southwestern part of the Altiplano Cundiboyacense in the center of Colombia. The Bogotá savanna has an extent of 4,251.6 square kilometres (1,641.6 sq mi) and an average altitude of 2,550 metres (8,370 ft). The savanna is situated in the Eastern Ranges of the Colombian Andes.

Chingaza National Natural Park

Chingaza National Natural Park is located in the Eastern Ranges of the Colombian Andes, northeast of Bogotá, Colombia in the departments of Cundinamarca and Meta. The elevation in the park, to the east of the Altiplano Cundiboyacense, ranges from 800 metres (2,600 ft) to 4,020 metres (13,190 ft), and the temperature ranges from 4 to 21.5 °C. The park extends over the Cundinamarca municipalities La Calera, Fómeque, Guasca and San Juanito (Meta).

Muisca architecture

This article describes the architecture of the Muisca. The Muisca, inhabiting the central highlands of the Colombian Andes, were one of the four great civilizations of the Americas. Unlike the three civilizations in present-day Mexico and Peru, they did not construct grand architecture of solid materials. While specialising in agriculture and gold-working, cloths and ceramics, their architecture was rather modest and made of non-permanent materials as wood and clay.

Liborio Zerda

Liborio Zerda was a Colombian physician and Muisca scholar. Zerda has been important in the natural sciences of the late 19th and early 20th century in Colombia, publishing many articles about various topics, from medicine to chemical analysis, radioactivity and the popular drink chicha.

Lake Fúquene

Lake Fúquene is a heart-shaped lake located in the Ubaté-Chiquinquirá Valley, part of the Altiplano Cundiboyacense, in the north of Cundinamarca, Colombia, at the border with Boyacá. The Andean lake, at an average altitude of 2,540 metres (8,330 ft), was considered sacred in the religion of the Muisca who inhabited the area before the Spanish conquest of the Muisca in the 1530s.

Spanish conquest of the Muisca Part of the Spanish conquest of Colombia

The Spanish conquest of the Muisca took place from 1537 to 1540. The Muisca were the inhabitants of the central Andean highlands of Colombia before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors. They were organised in a loose confederation of different rulers; the zipa of Bacatá, with his headquarters in Funza, the zaque of Boyacá, with his headquarters in Hunza, the iraca of the sacred City of the Sun Sugamuxi, the Tundama of Tundama, and several independent caciques. The leaders of the Confederation at the time of conquest were zipa Tisquesusa, zaque Quemuenchatocha, iraca Sugamuxi and Tundama in the northernmost portion of their territories. The Muisca were organised in small communities of circular enclosures, with a central square where the bohío of the cacique was located. They were called "Salt People" because of their extraction of salt in various locations throughout their territories, mainly in Zipaquirá, Nemocón, and Tausa. For the main part self-sufficient in their well-organised economy, the Muisca traded with the European conquistadors valuable products as gold, tumbaga, and emeralds with their neighbouring indigenous groups. In the Tenza Valley, to the east of the Altiplano Cundiboyacense where the majority of the Muisca lived, they extracted emeralds in Chivor and Somondoco. The economy of the Muisca was rooted in their agriculture with main products maize, yuca, potatoes, and various other cultivations elaborated on elevated fields. Agriculture had started around 3000 BCE on the Altiplano, following the preceramic Herrera Period and a long epoch of hunter-gatherers since the late Pleistocene. The earliest archaeological evidence of inhabitation in Colombia, and one of the oldest in South America, has been found in El Abra, dating to around 12,500 years BP.

Muisca art

This article describes the art produced by the Muisca. The Muisca established one of the four grand civilisations of the pre-Columbian Americas on the Altiplano Cundiboyacense in present-day central Colombia. Their various forms of art have been described in detail and include pottery, textiles, body art, hieroglyphs and rock art. While their architecture was modest compared to the Inca, Aztec and Maya civilisations, the Muisca are best known for their skilled goldworking. The Museo del Oro in the Colombian capital Bogotá houses the biggest collection of golden objects in the world, from various Colombian cultures including the Muisca.


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Eastern Hills (Bogotá)

The Eastern Hills are a chain of hills forming the eastern natural boundary of the Colombian capital Bogotá. They are part of the Altiplano Cundiboyacense, the high plateau of the Eastern Ranges of the Colombian Andes. The Eastern Hills are bordered by the Chingaza National Natural Park to the east, the Bogotá savanna to the west and north, and the Sumapaz Páramo to the south. The north-northeast to south-southwest trending mountain chain is 52 kilometres (32 mi) long and its width varies from 0.4 to 8 kilometres. The highest hilltops rise to 3,600 metres (11,800 ft) over the western flatlands at 2,600 metres (8,500 ft). The Torca River at the border with Chía in the north, the boquerón Chipaque to the south and the valley of the Teusacá River to the east are the hydrographic limits of the Eastern Hills.

Suárez River

The Suárez River, originally Saravita, is a river in the Eastern Ranges of the Colombian Andes. The river originates in Lake Fúquene on the border of Cundinamarca and Boyacá and its mouth is the confluence with the Chicamocha River, forming the Sogamoso River in Santander. It is part of the Magdalena Basin flowing towards the Caribbean Sea.

Sabana Formation Geological formation in the Colombian Andes

The Sabana Formation is a geological formation of the Bogotá savanna, Altiplano Cundiboyacense, Eastern Ranges of the Colombian Andes. The formation consists mainly of shales with at the edges of the Bogotá savanna lignites and sandstones. The Sabana Formation dates to the Quaternary period; Middle to Late Pleistocene epoch, and has a maximum thickness of 320 metres (1,050 ft), varying greatly across the savanna. It is the uppermost formation of the lacustrine and fluvio-glacial sediments of paleolake Humboldt, that existed at the edge of the Eastern Hills until the latest Pleistocene.


  1. 1 2 3 4 (in Spanish) Length, width and depth of Lake Suesca
  2. 1 2 3 CAR, 1993
  3. 1 2 3 Bastidas, 2001
  4. 1 2 3 Leon et al., 1998
  5. Casilimas & López, 1987, p.135
  6. Castellanos Urbina, 2005, p.217
  7. (in Spanish) Fish in Lake Suesca Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine