El Dorado is the name of the airport of Colombia's thriving capital, Bogotá. Both the city and its airport are well worth a visit. As the capital of the nation, expect omnipresent security guards, which are meant to provide you safety. Just take your regular precautions when visiting the city, which is not more dangerous than any other big city. Avoid areas not visited by tourists. Beware, aircraft spotting and photography are not generally understood as a hobby in Colombia. Being a foreigner, a good explanation will usually help to prevent trouble with authorities. The airport serves as the main international gateway to Colombia and is home to wide variety of local and military aircraft operators, making it a real treat for the aviation enthusiast.
Bogotá has two parallel runways 13/31, with most of the facilities squeezed between them. Taxiways connecting the two runways give the runway system a distinctive H-shape. The facilities north of the connecting taxiways are mainly in use by the military. Here, a huge air force apron can be found on the east side. To the south side of the connecting taxiways the main terminal can be found, which handles most international flights, as well as domestic and regional flights. The second terminal, Puente Aéreo, is located about 1km before the main terminal on the righthand side, and handles Avianca's regional flights as well as most domestic flights. National cargo ramps can be found between these two terminals, while international cargo is processed by the huge facility near the 31L threshold. A myriad of hangars, taxiways and offices, just south of the 31R threshold is home to numerous interesting companies.
The airport is situated about 13km north west of the city center and can easily be reached from the center by Avenida El Dorado, also referred to as Calle 26. From almost anywhere in the city, the excellent public transportation system will take you to the airport, for fares as low as 1,300 Colombian pesos, the equivalent of approximately $0.65. To the contrary, a taxi ride to one of the main terminals will cost you around 12,000 pesos from the city center.
Around the Airport
The new main terminal offers possibilities for spotting after passing customs, or while just transiting through Bogotá. Large windows near the gates permit views of the three taxiways that connect both runways, and most aircraft will pass the main terminal. The window next to gate 21 even good for photography on the taxiways, the huge air force platform and maintenance facility can be seen from here, and aircraft are easy to read off. Landside, views have become scarce since the new terminal has opened. Not surprisingly, there are security guards everywhere, who might ask you to put your camera down, but normally will not bother you.
2Puente Aéreo - terminal
Puente Aéreo also offers limited opportunities for spotting, both before and after passing customs. Airside, views of the parallel taxiway and runway 13L/31R can be obtained. Moreover, a various compounds to your right holds some interesting aircraft. Landside, things are more complicated and recent construction works did not contribute positively to the views. A sushi bar on the first floor is probably your best bet. It might be interesting to check out this spot as it is one of the few spots to witness aircraft using runway 13L/31R although views are hindered.
3Approach 31R & take-off 13L
With runways 13L/R mostly used, and runway 13L/31R largely surrounded by a huge wall, views of the latter are limited. Spot 3 is within walking distance of the terminal area. Just head south towards the city center and turn left after passing the last hangar on your left, you are now on road Transversal 93. This road leads under the 31R landing and has many brothels and motels, so you may opt to stay for the night here too, being close to the action. Right under the centerline is a small parking lot, which is usually empty during the week, but loaded with people watching aircraft during the weekend. You can either stay here or move further, anywhere between the parking lot and Calle 63 will give good views of the aircraft taking off. Photography is only good in the morning, position yourself close to Calle 63 and take some distance from the airport wall. If you are lucky, you will see aircraft on finals for runway 31R as well.
Spot 4 is one of the best options for spotting, and it is the only spot where you can make pictures of aircraft on the runway. The spot is hard to reach without a car, but as it is situated in a former bus parking lot. This spot is located at the end of Calle 22C and is only good for pictures in the afternoon. Coming from the terminal area, simply follow the airport fence on your right and the roads given in the map will bring you to the end of Calle 22C, part of which is unpaved. Some small mounts of dirt give good views of runway 13R, although be sure to avoid the fence while zooming in. You can even move further on the road to the 13R threshold, but as this is private property you may ask for permission first.
The approach of runway 13R is wide and open and as the runway is pretty close to the airport perimeter, aircraft on finals can be watched nicely from just outside the fence. To reach spot 5, continue on Carrera 129 when coming from the previous spot. Turn right on Carrera 13 which will cross the river. Just past the river you will have to pay toll for this road, which is approximately 5,000 Colombian pesos, or the equivalent of $2.50, just to turn right off the road after about 50 meters! Unfortunately, there's no other way to reach these two spots. Turn right at the first intersection on to the unpaved road until you see the runway lights. You can park your car here on the site of the road or on one of the sideroads, to avoid being bothered by airport security on patrol. This spot is good all day for photography, just move up and down the road.
6Approaches 13L/R - Los Acantos
Although aircraft on finals for runway 13L are very high when viewed from this road, in the morning you might be tempted to move a little bit further on this road. This way, you can take pictures of aircraft landing on runway 13R, while reading of the serials of aircraft on finals for 13L. The farmhouse of Los Acantos is situated right under the 13L centerline, so you will probably be too far by then. Later in the morning, move back to spot 5 and take your loss regarding runway 13L.
7Parque Simon Bolivar
You will not find this spot on the map. This famous city park is located right in the departure path of the 13L/R runways. You can enjoy your picnic here, while watching the aircraft climbing out low over the park. Reading off their serials will make your picnic even more worthwile.
When entering the airport area, a large footbridge can be found crossing the multi-lane road system. It provides limited views of aircraft with maintenance companies on the right as well as departing aircraft.
Spot 4 is the only spot to make pictures of aircraft on the runway (Javier Franco Topper).
Even during an international stopover, spot 1 is suitable for photography (Wim Sonneveld).
|119.050 / 119.500||Departure & Approach|
|119.650 / 121.300||Departure & Approach|
|Fuerza Aérea Colombiana - CATAM|
|GRUIA 83||Beech 300 ELINT|
Beech 350 ELINT
|Aviación del Ejército|
|Aviación Naval de Armada de República Colombia|
|Policía Nacional de Colombia|
|DOS Air Wing||Ce208|
|Aerocharter de Colombia||Ce425|
|APSA - Aeroexpreso Bogota||Beech 400|
|Aviel - Aviones Ejecutivos||Bell 206L|
|BP Exploracion||Beech 200|
|Copa Airlines Colombia||B737-700, ERJ190|
|LAN Colombia||A320, B737-700, B767-300, DHC-8-200/400|
|Lineas Aéreas Petroleras||PA-31|
|Latina de Aviacion||Beech 1900|
|Líneas Aéreas Suramericanas||B727|
|Servicios Aéreos Especializados||An-32|
|SATENA||Beech 1900 (leased)|
|Taxi Aereo Cusiana||Ce208|
|Vertical de Aviación||Beech 1900|
|FAC667||DC-3, CATAM gateguard|
|El Dorado||Official website of Bogota airport|
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|Bogotá - El Dorado International|
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