By Steve Hide
The mountains are under threat. But they’ve got friends. About hiking in and around Bogotá.
‘Piratas estrato 8’ shouts the TV news headline. It refers to Bogotá’s habit of classifying neighbourhoods by wealth and influence with estrato 1 being the slums and estrato 8presumably being filthy rich. But pirates?
Turns out these are property developers building illegal mansions in Los Cerros Orientales, the steep hills overhanging the city forming a Forest Reserve. Which, in theory means ‘protected from pirates’.
But in Bogotá, don’t count on it. It seems freebooters – swashbuckling or otherwise – from both ends of the economic spectrum are keen to grab themselves a slice of those cool green slopes overlooking the grey congestion below.
There are at least 60 barrios populares, (in case you didn’t know, ‘popular’ here means ‘poor’, not that everyone wants to go there) encroaching the hills that edges the city. Meanwhile the evening news is recounting how the maverick impresarios – las piratas – have violated the reserve by building huge marble and gold-leaf mansions in a place called Bagazal.