Tunja is the highest capital city in Colombia with an altitude of 2,782 meters above sea level. Located in the department of Boyacá, it is centrally located near tourist attractions, government institutions, and universities. Founded by Gonzalo Suárez Rendón in 1539, Tunja was the first Colombian capital city, giving it its colonial and historical feel. At only 2 hours away from Bogota, you can take a day trip to the capital city of the country.
Tunja has many attractions and advantages. It is a growing city with a small-town feel, where it is not a rarity to run into your friends, neighbors, and co-workers on the street. Approximately 191,878 people call Tunja their home, many of which are university students. Therefore, many locales and shops cater to the student population with discounts and to-go services. This is why Tunja gets its nickname as being the “University City of Colombia”.
Being located on the Colombian East Andes mountain range, the weather in Tunja is perfect! Although its locals will consider it cold, its weather is similar to Spring or Fall in seasonal countries. Ranging from 15 to 19 °C during the day, and 6 to 9 °C during the night, you will want to pack a warm jacket. On most days, be prepared to experience different climate changes. For more information about what to pack, please look below under “OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION”.
Tunja is rich in history, and you will find many museums and exhibits hidden away in eccentric places. Over 50 colonial buildings can be found downtown, along with an enormous city square with Simon Bolivar at its center. Cafes serving some of the high region’s distinct coffee align the city plaza, allowing tourists and locals to contemplate the plaza’s beauty and architectural design. Historically, Tunja was the mecca of the Muisca Indian Confederation, famous for their gold workmanship. One popular legend is that the Zaque Quemuenchatocha hid gold and emeralds in the Pozo Donato or “Hunzahúa Well”. The well is thought to be bottomless, and as a traditional saying goes, "Cayó al Pozo de Donato", which means you have lost something forever. If you visit Tunja, make sure to check out our city center, its cafes, and the Muisca ruins located on our university grounds.
Our university is called the Universidad Pedagógica y Tecnológica de Colombia (UPTC). Being a public university, it is sought after by undergraduates and postgraduates nationwide. Our main campus is located in Tunja, although it holds other branches in Duitama, Sogamoso, Chiquinquirá, and Bogota. Our medical program is one of the best in the country. Because of this, you will meet many students from different parts of the nation. The Health Sciences Department boasts its own campus located in what used to be the first hospital in Tunja. In fact, many people in Tunja prior to 2000 were born here.
On campus you will find sports facilities, a well-equipped gym for students and staff, a lunch and dinner cafeteria, a basketball court, a library, auditoriums, labs, healthcare offices, and one of the best simulation labs in the country. Outside of campus, there are more than ten cafes and quick marts to grab a bite to eat and chat with friends. Two student supply stores are located within a few steps at affordable prices. To change sceneries, a historical library and park await only five minutes walking distance from campus.
During your clinical practice, you will attend the main hospital, Hospital San Rafael de Tunja, also within walking distance or five minutes away by vehicle.
You will be provided with a student identification card which will have enough credit for one meal a day at our university’s cafeteria.
Lodging will be arranged with a dependable host family or at a student apartment.
If you are travelling by air, you will first land in Bogota’s airport, El Dorado International Airport. Upon arrival, arrangements will be made for your trip to Tunja by bus or vehicle as Tunja does not have an airport. One of our representatives will be awaiting to make sure you take the correct transportation from the airport to our city.
Once in the city, transportation is readily available and simple to take. The bus system is very effective, inexpensive, and stops almost everywhere. Don’t be afraid to ask someone walking by for directions or which bus to take. Bus fares are a flat rate of 1,600 Colombian pesos (COP) or about $0.55 USD. Taxis are also readily available and all taxis charge using a time meter. Given that the city is still relatively small, most cab rides are less than 5,000 COP ($1.78 USD). One tip that we recommend is if you travel with a group, taking a taxi will be cheaper than the bus. Tunja is a pleasant walking city, and it is one of the safest cities in Colombia. Because of this, you can walk to many destinations while saving money and getting exercise!
Tunja has a variable climate. Therefore, we recommend you pack a warm coat and rain jacket. You will most likely wear long sleeved shirts and long pants during the day. Some T-shirts are recommended for warmer days, as well as a bathing suit if you plan to visit the warm waters in Paipa. Please bring your clinical scrubs and medical equipment for clinical practice.