Info & History
If you want to get the full experience in Bogotá, you have to consider playing tejo at one of the local venues around town. Tejo is considered a national sport! If you are not super familiar with the game of tejo, it is a throwing game where you throw a puck or disc of metal (called a tejo) down a lane similar to a bowling alley, aiming for the sandpit or “tablas” which contains gunpowder at the end of the lane. Tejo posts are made from a protective board, post-frame, clay, target, and the firecracker/gunpowder. You will know when you hit the desired spot, as the gunpowder explosives crackle and it can be pretty loud depending on the level of impact! This is one of the most popular social activities that can be found in Bogota. It’s not uncommon for locals to hop from one tejo court to different bars and restaurants when they’re participating in the local nightlife. There are even professional tejo teams in the area who take the sport very seriously and compete in the playoffs. It’s just as fun to watch as it is to play.
When it comes to the history of tejo, there are some arguments as to where it began. Most people agree on the fact that the sport originated in the center of Colombia where the native aboriginals came from. There is another theory that the game was created 500 years ago using a golden disc called zepguagoscua. Whatever theory you believe, the sheer fun of the game remains the same. If you happen to be visiting Bogotá, you should definitely consider playing tejo for the full tourist experience.
You might be wondering how the scoring works for playing tejo in Colombia. The game of tejo is played between individuals or teams with up to six people. Scoring rules can be arbitrary but there is a standard which is the following. A hand grants one point to whatever tejo is closest at the end of any given round. A hit grants three points to each player who explodes a mecha. A bulls-eye grants six points to whoever landed their tejo inside of the specific target. A strike is when you gain nine points to a player who has both a hit and a bulls-eye within the same throw. Whoever scores the most points is the one who gets to throw first in the following round.
How to Get There
If you aren’t quite sure where to play tejo in Bogotá, there are resources that you can take advantage of as a tourist. For example, there are local tour guides who have packages that you can purchase where they take you to all of the best destinations. These are also very safe, so it is a great idea for those who are unfamiliar with the area that they are traveling at. Plus it is very convenient because they offer round trip rides so you don’t have to worry about arranging transportation. Otherwise, you can plan on driving yourself or using public transportation to get to your preferred tejo destination.
This game is highly favored by working-class people, and you will find places to play it in many neighborhoods. The Zona Rosa and Chapinero neighborhood are in a particularly safe area with many other destinations for food and nightlife to add to your itinerary for the most possible fun. One of the most popular places to play tejo in the area of Bogotá is called Club de Tejo San Miguel. Some other options to explore include Club de Tejo la 76. This spot specifically has professional courts downstairs and beginners courts upstairs.
Often times at tejo clubs you will find that the admission is free, but beer is available for purchase at around 69.000 COP per thirty pack of cans. This isn’t always the case though, as there are some clubs that charge anywhere from 10.000 to 30.000 COP per person or group. If you do decide to go with a local tour guide, the admission is often included in the package price you paid for the tour. The price for the most common tejo tour includes games for up to four people, a private driver, as well as a case of beer. However, there are also choices that include beer tasting tours for an additional price. This is sure to be an extremely fun day if you go this route!
Be aware that these clubs can get a bit rowdy with participants drinking and enjoying the sport with friends, especially later in the evening. If you’re not into that scene or want to avoid crowds altogether, you might want to try to play earlier in the morning or afternoon!
It’s quite a lot of fun to play tejo with a large group in Colombia. Often times, if you have a good-sized group, you won’t have to pay for admission at all, only for the beer.
There is often limited food options available at tejo courts, so bring extra cash or plan on eating before or after you play a few rounds.
It’s a good idea to start out in a mini tejo game if you are highly inexperienced or not a great thrower. This way, you minimize the chance of accidentally throwing the heavy metal puck at any bystanders!