Crossed by two massive gorges, and teeming with rivers, caves, waterfalls and a National Park, Santander is perfectly situated for adventure. From the fertile highlands, to the subtropical forest and onto the dry lowland gorges, Santander offers world class biking, rafting, hiking and paragliding.
Tour Bogota and learn about its Spanish and pre–Columbian heritage
Explore the colonial city of Barichara and its surrounding farms by bike
Venture through a limestone cave and swim through an underground river
Plunge through the rapids ranging from class III-V on the Suarez River
Bogota is one of the most important cities in South America. It was settled in an Andean savanna and connected to the Caribbean by the great Magdalena River. Bogota was once the main trade center between South America and Europe. Visit the colonial city to learn about its Spanish and pre–Columbian heritage. Today's City tour includes the Plaza of Simon Bolivar, colonial churches, bohemian La Candelaria neighborhood and the Gold Museum which is regarded as the most important gold museum in the World. In the afternoon, depart to Villa de Leyva, one of the most beautiful colonial villages in Colombia. Declared a National Monument in 1945, this town has been preserved entirely with cobblestone streets, tiled roofs and whitewashed buildings. While exploring Villa de Leyva, discover one of the most important paleontological regions in South America. Here you can find dinosaur fossils and thousands of ammonites from the Cretaceous period. These have been used to decorate buildings and floors in the area. Tonight spend the night in a colonial hotel.
The adventure continues today with a full day of biking. Rated as one of the best rides in Colombia, this route into the Suarez gorge is an ideal mix of downhill and cross country biking. Start high over the town of San Gil at 2,000 meters, where explore the area on high-end dual suspension Kona Brand bicycles. Begin along a gorgeous agricultural landscape, filled with fruit and tobacco farms, and stop along the way to interact with local farmers and learn about their way of life. Later, reach the charming town of Barichara, considered by many to be Colombia’s top colonial city. Explore Barichara’s perfectly maintained 15th century architecture and fine cobble stone streets as you learn about the city’s rich colonial history. Enjoy refreshments in the central park and continue your ride along the edge of the Suarez Canyon. With spectacular and far reaching views, the pace quickens as you descend through the steepest part of the canyon. Reach the bottom of the gorge after dropping 1000 vertical meters. Here the 4x4 support vehicle helps you ascend to the other side of the canyon to visit more colonial pueblos. Next enjoy lunch as you take in sweeping views over the canyon. Continue the ride back down to the gorge, along a section of the Royal Roads. Cross several streams along the way as you traverse the gorge headed north. Your day ends with celebratory beers before returning to the hotel.
Set out today to explore one of the most spectacular water features in the region. Juan Curi is a 180 meter waterfall surrounded by a lush forest. Hike along the 4km trail to the top of the falls along the river as you learn about the forest’s unique species. At the top of the falls, begin an exhilarating descent while exposed to the thrilling mist and wind. Upon reaching the bottom, you will swim in the natural river pool and enjoy the gorgeous setting. After lunch, the adventure continues underground. Reach the entrance of the Cueva del Indio (Indian Cave), where you will suit up with hard hats and torches. Enter the mysterious limestone cave system. As you move along the cave, learn about the local wildlife and natural history as well as the large formation of stalactites and stalagmites. Next swim through an underground river to get to the exit. Return to the hotel for the evening
An adventure in Santander is not complete without a day of whitewater rafting. The Suarez River has one of the best high-volume runs in Colombia. Located just one hour from San Gil, the river starts with quick rapids at class III level. Midway through the run is the most challenging rapid, known as Labyrinth. Upper Labyrinth is class IV, followed by the class V Lower Labyrinth. The adventure continues until close to the end with a class V rapid. After this adrenaline rush, enjoy lunch and spend the rest of the afternoon at you leisure.
Day 6: Hiking the Royal Road to Guane
Your last day of adventure starts with the history of Santander on a hike along a historic trail to the heartland of the Santander’s pre-hispanic culture. Declared a National Monument, the trail starts on the edge of the escarpment where Barichara ends, and undulates through beautiful countryside, offering fabulous views and great bird watching, before finally arriving in tranquil Guane. The town itself is unreal, a picture-perfect and pocket-sized quintessential colonial village. The original inhabitants of this town are now extinct, but the remains they left behind attest to the grandeur of their culture. Visit the local fossil and anthropology museums to learn more about the history of the Guane. During the colonial era this trail was rebuilt in stone by the Spanish Crown for the export of gold and exotic American products. This walk is an authentic rural Colombian experience, framed by history, classic scenery and a backdrop of old stone farmland. Around mid-day transfer from San Gil to Bucaramanga airport to connect with and internal flight, back to Bogota or to continue your travels in Colombia.
This was my first experience with Adventure Life - and I couldn't have been more pleased with the trip. The guides and local staff in both Buenos Aires and Uruguay were terrific - extremely helpful and accommodating. I really enjoyed meeting the friendly staff in Buenos Aires in person (I left my bags with them for the afternoon).