playing tejo in colombia

How to Play Tejo in Colombia – Where to Play, What to Expect

Every country has a drinking game and Colombia is no exception.  Except in Colombia the drinking game of choice involves gunpowder.  This is Tejo Colombia.  It’s a game of skill, drinking and explosions.  It’s popular throughout the country, but more so in Salento where a game of Tejo or 3 is both a locals and a travelers recognized rite of passage.  Finding a Tejo Bar in Colombia could just be one of the best nights you have in the country, not playing tejo in Colombia would be a travesty!

This is an evening game and you’ll find the Tejo game halls open from around 630pm to 7pm onwards.    You don’t have to play, you can simply enjoy the cold beer or liquor of your choice and watch the locals and tourists alike testing their skills and accuracy levels.

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What is Tejo

Tejo – it’s pronounced TAY-HO – was named as the national sport of Colombia in 2000 and its one of the country’s oldest and possibly the most popular sport in Colombia.  Tejo originated in indigenous groups in Colombia around 500 years ago!  And is one of the traditional Colombia games.

Tejo is the name of the small metal disc that you’ll throw towards a 25 centimeter metal ring in a 3D clay 1 meter square target from a distance of 3-5 meters away.  Your aim is to get your Tejo in the middle of the metal ring, or to cause an explosion by hitting one of the paper wrapped gunpowder parcels on the edge of the ring, or to simply get closest to the ring.  You’ll get points for each of these actions and the first to 21 points wins the game.

playing tejo in colombia - tejo

Where to Play Tejo

The main places that you’ll find “cancha de Tejo” or Tejo courts as a tourist are in Salento, Medellin and Bogota.  We didn’t find anywhere to play Tejo in Cartagena.

Where to Play Tejo in Salento

In Salento play Tejo at Los Amigos, Carrera 6, #6/21 (halfway between Calle 3 and Calle 4).    You’ll find Los Amigos, Salento just 5 minutes’ walk from the main plaza.   Look up Tejo at the next town or pueblo that you’re heading to and get on out there and have some fun.  It costs 2,000 pesos per game to play Tejo at Los Amigos, Salento.

los amigos tejo court salento

Check out our full list of things you should do in Salento and what you shouldn’t miss eating here!

Where to Play Tejo in Bogota

You can play Tejo in La Candelaria, Bogotá at Club de Tejo La 76.  Carrera 24 No 76-56, Bogota.  This tejo bar Bogota is close to the Zona Rosa.  You can play a Tejo game in Bogota here from 10am until 10:30pm and an hour for a Tejo court will cost you COP$70,000.  There are 8 Tejo lanes here at Tejo Bogota.

playing tejo map bogota

Where to Play Tejo in Medellin

You’ll find a great tejo bar in Medellin at the Estadio Polideportivo Sur in Envigado.  Just half an hour from El Poblado’s Parque Lleras.  Head into the main gate, pass the stadium on your left.  After the playground turn left, leave the football field on your right and you’ll see the best Tejo Medellin court.

The address is Estadio Polideportivo Sur – Envigado, Carrera 48 #46 Sur 150 Avenida Las Vegas.

A Tejo court here will cost about US$3 an hour, beer costs extra.

tejo cancha medellin

Can you play tejo in Cartagena?

Unfortunately not.  We’ve looked everywhere, but unless you tell us differently (please do so in the comments), there is no tejo Cartagena.  You have to head to Medellin, Bogota or Salento to play tejo.

What’s a Tejo Hall Look Like

Tejo is played in a large covered space.  It’s like a warehouse or bowling alley with specific lanes set up.   Each lane has a clay 3D triangle target area, this is called the “pitch” and it’s bounded by wooden boards.

The best Tejo Salento playing area is at Los Amigos, Salento has 8/9 lanes all of which can be played on simultaneously.

tejo courts

The backboard of each Tejo lane at Los Amigos represents the Colombian flag.     The target area is around 1 metre square.  The metal ring that you’re aiming to get in the middle of has a diameter of around 25 centimetres.  You aim with a small palm sized heavy metal disk called a Tejo.

playing tejo

There are clear separations between the different lanes and faint markings on the floor indicate where you throw your disc from.

How to Play Tejo

The objective of each Tejo game is to be the first to 21 points.   Points are gained by throwing your Tejo (a small heavy metal disc) towards the target.  You throw it underarm.  The disc weighs about 700 grams.

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everything you need to know about playing tejo in colombia

The target is a round metal ring (called a bocin), placed in the middle of the 3D clay triangle.  Folded paper triangle, called mechas, containing gunpowder are placed on the edges of the metal ring, to enable additional points to be gained if your turn elicits an explosion.

Take it in turns to throw your metal disc towards the target.  As you only have one disc each you’ll need to retrieve it from the clay at the end of each round.    You’ll probably want to flatten down the clay in between rounds as you dig out the disc from the holes that you make in the clay.

tejo cancha

How to Score Points in Tejo

In each round each player gets a throw.

  1. A HAND: Closest to the ring = 1 point
  2. A HIT: Explosion = 3 points
  3. BULLSEYE: In the centre of the ring = 6 points
  4. STRIKE: Explosion + Centre of the Ring = 9 points

The winner is the first to 21 points.

Playing Tejo rules and scoring

Tejo Rules

You’ve read the goals and how to score in Tejo.  The rules of Tejo are simple.

  1. Take turns to throw the tejo towards the bocin.
  2. Stand around 22 m away from the bocin
  3. First to 21 points wins.
  4. While its more of an informal, but expected rule – drink a beer or three while playing.

How much does it cost to play Tejo

See above for where to play Tejo, but in Salento Tejo at Los Amigos you pay for your beer (5,000 COP for a Costano, 3,500 for Poker, 4,000 for other beers) and also pay a charge per game.  The staff will provide you with a handful of gunpowder filled paper triangles to replenish your targets once your explosions start.  We paid just 2,000 COP per game per person.  In reality, it was quiet when we played, so we had 3 games for the price of one.

How big are Tejo explosions

Tejo is great fun, and you’ll soon warm up in Salento’s cool evenings, be sure to hydrate with beer to keep your aim true and straight.   Tejo is noisy, you’ll likely hit the boards, the backboard and the ground before you eventually hit the paper triangles and cause explosions.  Tejo explosions aren’t hugely noisy, but they are great fun, especially if it’s your Tejo that’s caused them!

The Colombian game, Tejo is a fabulous way to experience some of the culture of Colombia.  Did you play Tejo yet?  Where’s your favorite place to play?

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