Legend has it that the indigenous Muisca people would leap off the cliffside to escape Spanish conquistadors. Apparitions have reportedly stalked the grounds ever since.
Hotel del Salto, which translates quite literally to “hotel of the leap,” has been purportedly haunted for decades. Now the Tequendama Falls Museum of Biodiversity and Culture, the century-old establishment overlooks Colombia’s eponymous waterfall on the Bogotá River.
Before its abandonment in the 1990s and subsequent renovation, the ominous and isolated building once served as luxurious inn for Columbia’s wealthy and elite. Just beyond the walls, however, where the falls cascade down the foggy mountains, an indigenous myth and legend were born.
According to The Vintage News, the “Mansion of Tequendama Falls” was constructed in San Antonio del Tequendama in 1923 during the presidency of Pedro Nel Ospina.
Initially used as the residential mansion home of architect Carlos Arturo Tapias, it opened its doors to guests in 1928 — with unnerving consequences.
Nearly 100 years later, visitors and tourists from around the world still frequent the former hotel. The myths, mishaps, and supposed supernatural incidents that occurred there will likely continue to lure people in for years to come.
Legend Of The Tequendama
The building’s high windows and French architecture were a true reflection of its time. The roaring 1920s popularized the modern Francophile movement, with the design mirroring that sophisticated style. Before serving as a place for the posh, however, local legend took precedence.
Tequendama translates to “he who precipitated downward” in the indigenous Chibcha language of the Muisca people.
As the story goes, these natives would leap from Tequendama Falls to avoid being captured by the Spanish who were conquering South America at the time. Rather than meeting their demise, however, the Muisca would transform into eagles mid-fall and soar into the skies.
Muisca myth states that Bogota was flooded, but that the Gods created a patch and formed the waterfall to prevent people from dying in the flood. The area was ripe with flora and fauna until 20th-century economic progress heralded in industrial advents such as dams and electricity impacted the environment.
The legend was surely intended as an inspirational tale of overcoming imperialist brutality, but was instead soon the bases for several suicides. Before attracting this kind of visitorship, however, the building did function as a hotel from 1928 until the 1990s.
In July 1950, goals to turn the hotel into an 18-story attraction came and went. Eventually, the original foundation became too damaged to operate, largely due to the Bogota River’s horrific contamination problem.
By the 1990s, interest waned, business suffered, and the Hotel del Salto closed for good. It was during this period that the empty building saw curious spelunkers and dejected youths shuffle around its rooms.
Depressed locals soon began using the waterfall-adjacent hotel as a place to take their own lives. This, in turn, was presumably why so many believe it to be haunted to this day.
The Alleged Hauntings And Accidents At Hotel Del Salto
It’s unclear when, exactly, the elegant hotel became such a gravitating place for the broken-hearted. According to Abandoned Spaces, the cliffside also became a site of supposed paranormal activity — with reports of ghost sightings filling the foggy area for years.
It also remains unclear whether those claiming to have seen apparitions saw indigenous figures or some of the youths that committed suicide there. Nonetheless, the spot has become colloquially known as “The Jump of Tequendama.”
According to Science Rumors, a loud cry emanating from with the abandoned hotel at night has merely furthered people’s belief the place is haunted. The road leading up to the building, too, has led to numerous mudslides and accidents which some indicate paranormal activity even further.
According to Express, tourists are warned to stay close to the property at night to this day, lest they fall off the edge by mistake. Some have fallen off the balcony — whether intentionally or not remains firmly in the eyes of the beholder.
Regardless, the many incidents have since led to safety railings being installed.
With pollution in the Bogota River below making it one of the most contaminated rivers in the world — which eventually led to the hotel’s closure — local folklore’s grip on that spooky stance only tightened.
Only in 2011 did things finally change, when effort was proactively put in to turn the seemingly doomed building around.
Hotel Del Salto Today
The National University of Colombia’s Institute of Natural Sciences and the Ecological Farm Foundation of Porvenir came together for restoration efforts in 2011 to restore the famed hotel.
Rather than return the inn to its former glory as a vacation spot, the goal was to build a cultural hub.
As such, the Tequendama Falls Museum of Biodiversity and Culture has since become a Colombian beacon of the country’s heritage, as well as a prime example of environmental pride.
In 2013, the former mansion officially opened for its very first exhibit.
The debut gala, “Caverns, ecosystems of the subterranean world,” aimed to showcase the region’s biodiversity and marvels of underwater ecology.