Why Rihanna Is Wrong About Bogota (And Why You Should Go Right Now)

For one thing, there's no Zika.

Earlier this month, Rihanna crushed the buzz of thousands of Colombian music fans when she reportedly decided not to be the mystery headliner of the first Lollapalooza Colombia music festival which was scheduled to be held in mid-September in Bogota, but was subsequently cancelled. Rihanna’s reported reason? Fears of contracting the Zika virus while in Bogota. But she’s wrong.

In March, the Centers for Disease Control stated that the type of mosquito that carries Zika does not live above 6,562 feet. There is a serious Zika problem in lower, hotter parts of Colombia but Bogota is located at 8,300 feet — well above the CDC elevation limit. That means the capital of Colombia does not have Zika-carrying mosquitos. In fact, the CDC says that elevations above 6,562 feet are “considered to have minimal (approximately one percent) likelihood for mosquito-born Zika virus transmission even within countries reporting active transmission.” The CDC has also recently stated that “where habitat is unsuitable, the mosquito vector is likely to be absent, and risk for mosquito-borne Zika virus transmission is likely to be negligible.” 

So, according to one of the most respected world health monitoring organizations, Bogota does not have Zika-carrying mosquitos. What this booming city does have is some of the best hotels and one of the most exciting food scenes in South America right now, plus plenty of international flights to deliver you directly to Bogota without stopping at lower elevations in the country. Here’s what’s in store. 

There are not one but two new Four Seasons hotels in Bogota. The 62-room Four Seasons Hotel Casa Medina opened in October after a multi-million dollar restoration which transformed an existing hotel into the next level of luxe in the city. In April, the Four Seasons Hotel Bogota also opened, featuring 64 rooms, a Japanese restaurant, and Colombian arts and crafts throughout. The first W Hotel in Colombia is also in Bogota. 

In September, Bogota got its first Michelin-starred chef with the opening of Cantina y Punto, headed by Roberto Ruiz, a Mexican chef who also operates Punto MX in Madrid, which is the only Mexican restaurant in Europe with a Michelin star. Head to Cantina y Punto for the mezcal and tequila bar with a retractable roof and gourmet Mexican dishes featuring handmade tortillas and Chef Ruiz’s famous guacamole. 

In October, the B.O.G. Hotel, the city’s most elegant boutique hotel (don’t miss the rooftop pool and bar and the best hotel room showers in the city), re-imagined its restaurant. Now Spanish chef Ramon Freixa, who earned two Michelin stars at his Restaurante Ramon Freixa in Madrid, helms the hotel’s new FROM Restaurant where a Spanish-Colombian menu features elegantly presented dishes like an inventive green mango ceviche appetizer and succulent ox tail. 

The 2015 list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants reflects the food superpower in Bogota right now with four Bogota restaurants making the grade including the flagship restaurant from local celebrity chef Harry Sasson and Criterion from the revered local Rausch brothers. 

Another Bogota chef on the 50 Best List, Leonor Espinosa, was also recently named a finalist in the Basque World Culinary Awards and is in the running to receive substantial funding for her Funleo foundation, which works to preserve traditional Colombian culinary techniques and ingredients from every corner of the country. The tasting menu at her elegant Restaurante Leo remains one of the most inventive, unexpected and delicious trips through haute Colombian cuisine.

If you want to deep dive into the cuisine of Colombia, plan your trip to Bogota to coincide with the annual Bogota Wine & Food Festival

Clearly Rihanna is missing out on Bogota. What would Colombia's famous fans like the native Colombian Shakira — or the well meaning but misguided Snoop Dogg — say about that?

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