The Adventure’s and Extreme Sports’ Capital of Colombia: San Gil

San Gil is known as the “Tourist Capital of Santander”, as you will find adventure experiences and the possibility of extreme sports.

During your stay in San Gil you will learn about the history of the brave Guane tribe, which in the past inhabited these lands giving origin to the mestizaje (i.e. Miscegenation).

The town was founded in 1689 under the name of “Muy Noble y Leal Villa de Santa Cruz y San Gil de la Nueva Baeza” in the department of Santander, 103 kms from Bucaramanga capital of the department, and 300 kms from Bogota, capital of Colombia.

Below you will find the necessary information you need to make the most of your visit to San Gil.

Exploring San Gil, Santander, Colombia

Among the wonders you can find in San Gil are the Fonce, Suarez and Mogoticos rivers, as well as caves, waterfalls, trails, natural spas and parks, where you will explore and enjoy yourself to the fullest.

In fact, San Gil has cobblestone streets and gardens that decorate the landscape around the ceiba tree in the center of the town park. The historic center of San Gil, dates from the seventeenth century, and is declared a National Monument of Colombia.

It also has an average temperature of 21°C (69º F), making it a pleasant climate for tourists.

San Gil is only 32 km far from Barichara. So you can visit Barichara for a day trip and then return to San Gil in the evening. Know more about Barichara in our entry 9 Plans You Cannot Miss in Barichara.

Extreme and adventure sports in Colombia

Rafting in San Gil, Santander, Colombia

San Gil is the pioneer city of extreme and adventure sports in Colombia. In 1996 it began the commercial operation of rafting being the only destination in the country at that time.

There you can practice various extreme and adventure sports such as rafting, canoeing-rafting, torrentism, paragliding, caving, rappelling, canyoning, bungee jumping, mountain biking and motocross, among others.

It has the endowments of nature in areas such as waterfalls, rivers, natural caves, mountains and the great Chicamocha Canyon located just an hour from San Gil.

How to Get to San Gil

To get to San Gil by air from the main cities of Colombia (Bogota, Barranquilla, Medellin or Cali) you must take a commercial flight to the city of Bucaramanga.

Once in Bucaramanga, take an approximately 2,5-hours ride to San Gil.

If you want to travel by land to San Gil, be ready for a 309 km and approximately 7 hours road trip from Bogotá.

Natural Attractions and Activities in San Gil

Paragliding, San Gil, Santander, Colombia CC BY 2.0

1. El Gallineral Nature Park

El Gallineral is the only Natural Park within an urban perimeter in Colombia. It is a beautiful island formed by two branches of the Curití stream at the junction with the Fonce River.

The vegetation with heliconias and other wild flowers, its beautiful trees with hanging mosses create a paradise full of exotic landscapes. There are also cobblestone paths and colonial bridges which invite the visitor to walk and enjoy its fresh and romantic atmosphere.

At the Playita de la Piedra del Pato you can also enjoy the viewpoint where you can see the sailors passing by in the boats living the adventure of rafting.

It has a territorial extension of 4 hectares, where you will have the opportunity to go rafting on the Fonce River, hike through the caves La Antigua and El Alumbre, and visit the beautiful Pozo Azul.

The great variety of fauna and flora, is summarized in some species such as: Kapok tree (Ceiba pentandra), fig tree, heliconias, bromeliads and anthuriums.

Not to mention that the park is an ideal place for birdwatchers, with birds such as the Niceforo’s Wren (Thryophilus nicefori), Chestnut-bellied hummingbird (Amazilia castaneiventris), Amazonian motmot (Momotus momota), among many others.

The Gallineral Park is located next to the Fonce River boardwalk, following the right side of the road that leads from Bogota to Bucaramanga, less than 300 meters from the Rojas Pinilla Bridge. It is one of the most beautiful and attractive regional nature reserves in the country.

Inside the park you will find a restaurant, cafeteria, crafts and fun in the middle of nature.

2. Juan Curi Ecological Waterfall Park

The ecological park Cascadas de Juan Curí is located at kilometer 22 via San Gil – Charalá, in the department of Santander.

It is run by a family dedicated to adventure tourism, offering  lodging services, restaurant, ecological hikes, horseback riding, rafting and parking.

It stands out in the region for being a leader in the implementation of ecological activities, adventure and environmental awareness, without breaking with the environment, becoming known as one of the most sustainable places in the region.

There are waterfalls and a virgin jungle. Its main attraction is a large waterfall that exceeds 200 meters high. There you will be an interactive part of all its beauty and enjoy a refreshing swim in a natural well of more than 2 meters deep.

El Gallineral Park, San Gil, Santander, Colombia CC Licence

3. Guane Archaeological and Anthropological Museum of San Gil

Here you will have the opportunity to see a sample of the Guane ethnic group as well as walk through the corridors of the colonial house museum.

The museum is located in an old building. The cover is in stone, and it has two halls of a single plant. The building is made of brick, wood, cane and tile roof, and has large rooms. Its walls are white, painted with lime, and the floor is dark red tile.

Among the conservation samples are archaeological remains, sculptures, textiles and rock art made with colored earth. The most important objects are the young indigenous mummy, three unique jaguar cups, and fossils of fish, wood and giant ammonites.

4. Chicamocha National Park

The Chicamocha National Park is 60 km from San Gil, 1.5 hours by car. It is formed by several squares, where the spaces of the daily life of Santander are represented.

It is the second largest canyon in the world and has been nominated to be part of the 7 wonders of Colombia.

Know more about this park in our entry Discover the Chicamocha Canyon, the Largest Canyon in Colombia.

5. Paragliding at the Chicamocha Canyon

The flight takes place very close to the Chicamocha National Park. It is possible to reach heights of more than 2,000 m. If you are lucky with the right weather conditions you can enjoy beautiful landscapes such as the immensity of the canyon, mountains, the Chicamocha River that meets the Suarez River and Fonce River.

The average time for this activity is 20 to 30 minutes depending on weather conditions.

6. Trekking in San Gil

This is one of the most popular activities in San Gil, it is perfect to connect with nature on the road to Pinchote. In this trail you will find rappel, canyoning and mountaineering.

There is a 30-meter long suspension bridge 10 meters high, and an extreme staircase of 23 m. You will finish the trekking circuit with the second phase of the 225 m long cable flight until you reach a beautiful Kiosk.

7. Speleology at Vaca and Indio Caves

San Gil has 2 important caves that you can visit: Vaca and Indio.

The cueva Vaca is one of the jewels for caving in Colombia. In the cave you will cross cold water wells, watch bats and giant vaults. There you will be able to observe the formation of concave rocks such as stalactites and stalagmites, natural phenomena related with caves.

The Cueva del Indio is a magical subway place created over the years, where you can observe the beautiful rocky monuments known as stalactites and stalagmites. After crossing several obstacles along the way and connecting with the deepest part of the cave, the tour ends with a 3-meter jump into a well of icy water.

8. Rafting in the Suarez River

If you are a lover of adrenaline, nature and extreme experiences the Suarez river is ideal, as it can reach class v rapids, becoming one of the most visited places for rafting by travelers during their journey through South America.

This activity has an average of 2 hours of navigation on the Suarez river reaching iii, iv and v degrees.

9. San Gil Bicycle Tour

It is a tour of 15 km, with a duration of 5 hours and a medium-high degree of difficulty. Throughout the bike tour you will be surrounded by farms, coffee plantations, fruits and lots of nature.

10. Bungee Jumping in San Gil

Only 2 kilometers away via San Gil – Charalá, you will have the opportunity to go for bungee jumping on a metal structure 70 meters high over the waters of the Fonce river.

Find out more about extreme sports in Colombia in our vlog The Coolest Extreme Sports in Colombia – Colombian Travel Guide.

Where to Stay in San Gil

La Mansion Hostel, San Gil, Santander, Colombia

Most of the hotels can be found in the center of town. We recommend Campanario Hotel Boutique, La Mansion Hostel, Palmas del Zamorano, and Sunset Palm Lodge.

About the author

Luisa Martin
Engineer, world traveler, amateur photographer, traveling blogger, and foody.

Hiking Destination Near Bogotá: Chicaque Natural Park

Chicaque Natural Park is a natural reserve located only 30 minutes from Bogotá, Colombia. It is a must-see hiking destination near Bogota that can be easily visited in one day. You can also spend several days in Chicaque if you have time.

The park has a magnificent area of well-preserved cloud forest of the eastern Andes. It offers an incomparable landscape, perfect for hikers and nature lovers.


Chicaque Park – Landscape from the Viewpoint

Hiking, horseback riding, bird watching, camping, and some adventure sports, are some of the activities you can enjoy there.

It is a perfect place to visit with kids or family. The park has several lodging options. You can stay at the hotel, or cabins, or the tree houses. It also offer services of glamping, two camping areas, and restaurant service.

Hiking in Chicaque Park

In Chicaque you will find more than 20 kilometers of ecological trails of different levels of difficulty. These 20 km distribute in 7 trails. Below I will tell you about each trail.

The Eagle’s Peak Trail

The Eagle’s Peak is a natural viewpoint. I has an elevation of 2,290 meters above sea level, on the edge of the Andean Eastern Cordillera.

It is a formation created by a series of rocky detachments of the Peña. From there, you will have an incredible panoramic view of the Tequendama region and the Peñas Blancas mountain range.

You are able to see the towns Santandercito, Mesitas, Anapoima, La Mesa, and Tena. On clear days you can also see the snow-capped mountains of Tolima, Santa Isabel and Ruiz, in the Central Cordillera.

There are high concentrations of carbon in the soils and rocks, for this reason, the rocks are black. Around the peak, air currents formed by the strong temperature changes attracts large birds such as vultures and eagles.

  • Level of physical demand: Medium
  • Length of the route: Varies according to the chosen path.
  • Travel time: Varies according to the chosen path.

El Roquedal Trail

The Roquedal trail is an extension of the trail to the Eagle’s Peak.

Roquedal trail goes through a rocky area with vegetation and formations similar to the Eagle Peak trail. On this trail, you will find vegetation plenty of orchid species and Gaques (Clusia multiflora).

Gaque (Clusia multiflora)

The Gaques are trees with thick, oval leaves that produce a yellow resin. These trees attract different birds species, due to their attractive and nutritious flowers and fruits.

Sparkling violetear at Chicaque Park

You can find birds such as: Hummingbirds (Trochilidae), Glossy flowerpiercer (Diglossa lafresnayii), Black Flowerpiercer (Diglossa humeralis), Masked Flowerpiercer (Diglossa cyanea), White-sided Flowerpicker (Diglossa albilatera), Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan (Andigena laminirostris), among others.

  • Level of physical demand: Strong
  • Length from Eagle’s Peak: 667 meters (667 yards)
  • Approximate travel time: 25 minutes.

Butterflies trail (Mariposas)

It begins near the Eagle’s Peak, just below La Granja. It runs through the south-western part of Chicaque Park. This trail is notorious for its steep slopes and lush vegetation.

On the trail it is possible to see the beautiful butterflies known as “Alas de Cristal” (Crystal Wings).

  • Level of physical demand: Strong
  • Length of the route: 1.6 kms.
  • Approximate travel time: 1 hour
  • Attention: This is the longest route to the Refugio.

Matoño Lagoon Trail

The Matoño Lagoon honors the founder of Chicaque “Manuel Antonio Escobar Lozano”. It is a small body of water fed by spring waters that flow from the lower part of the Eagle’s Peak.

For more than 40 years the lagoon suffered from severe degradation. In 2012, Chicaque acquired the property next to the lagoon. Since then, the natural reserve started the lagoon’s restoration.

Today the lagoon has recovered part of its water mirror, and is visited by birds, and inhabited by small frogs and crabs.

Some wax palm trees grow around the lagoon. Manuel Lozano, the precursor of conservation in Chicaque, planted them more than 120 years ago.

The trail has steep and rocky sections that can be slippery in rainy seasons, so it can be very demanding.

  • Level of physical demand: Medium/High
  • Aproximate travel time: From the refuge 2.5 hours, from the eagle’s peak 1.5 hours.

Colombian Oak Forest Trail

This is perhaps one of the last oak forests near Bogotá. It is a population of oaks of the species Quercus humboldtii, the colombian oak. This tree is endemic to Colombia and is critically endangered due to habitat loss and timber extraction.

Colombian Oak – Quercus humboldtii

The strength of the oak wood makes it a very desirable tree, it was used in the construction of railroads. These trees can live up to 300 years and can reach up to 30 meters in height.

It is an important tree in the Andean forests. It allows the location of epiphytic plants such as orchids and bromeliads, as well as lichens.

Its flowers are visited by bees (Apis mellifera) and its acorns are food for many mammals of the Andean forest.

Species such as the collared peccary (Pecari tajacu), the white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), the red-tailed squirrel (Sciurus granatensis), the mountain paca (Agouti taczanowskii), the Central American agouti (Dasyprocta punctata), and the pacarana (Dinomys branickii) benefit from it.

Zip-line and Canopy

In the Bosque de Robles trail you will find a zip line activity on an incredible 340-meter-long zip line where you will reach speeds of up to 50 kilometers per hour.

You can also enjoy a canopy activity on a 25-meter (82-foot) tree platform. You can climb it on a rope or a ladder. Once at the top, you will enjoy a extraordinary view.

  • Level of physical demand: Moderate
  • Length of the route: Approximately 2.5 kms.
  • Approximate travel time: 1 hour, starting from the Refuge.

Waterfall Trail

On the trail that leads to the waterfall, you will see two ravines: Chicaque and Velez. This trail has traces past water streams.

This trail was designed to highlight the importance and value of water, which is becoming scarcer every day. This becomes evident when you reach the waterfall.

This waterfall has a drop of approximately 70 meters high, but its flow is very reduced. This is due to a eucalyptus forest that inhabits the upper part of the mountain, outside the park’s boundaries.

Negative Effect of Introduced Species

Eucalyptus trees are foreign species that were irresponsibly introduced into the mountains of the eastern cordillera. They are a living example of the negative effect of introducing foreign species to native ecosystems.

Eucalyptus trees are plants that consume a lot of water, drying the soils and excluding the development of native species of the Andean cloud forests, which are highly dependent on humidity and water.

This is reflected not only in the loss of habitat for native plants, but also for the local fauna, which have to move to other places, since the eucalyptus does not provide shelter or food, as does a Colombian oak or a Gaque.

The stone walls of the waterfall have a high concentration of iron, which gives it a reddish color that contrasts with the intense green of the mosses.

For environmental and safety reasons, visitors are not allowed to bathe in the waterfall.

  • Level of physical demand: Hard
  • Length of the route: 3.5 kms
  • Approximate travel time: 2 hours, starting from the Refugio.

The Colonial Trail

Before colonization, this was a pre-Columbian trail used by the Muisca and Panches Indians. It was used to link the savannah of Bogotá (the land of the Minga) with the Magdalena valley. Later, the Spaniards widened the trail to allow the passage of horses and mules.

The road is built entirely of stone steps. These steps are polished by the passage of dozens of generations over hundreds of years. The colonial trail retains a centuries-old air and is now part of the cloud forest. To walk along it is to return to a distant and peaceful past.

This trail is fragmented into two parts and connects the upper part of Chicaque with the lower part. It begins near the entrance of the park where the steps of the main viewpoint end, and ends near La Playa creek, just 500 meters from the Refuge. It is the shortest route between the entrance and the refuge.

  • Level of physical demand: Downhill, medium. Climbing, high.
  • Length of the route: 1.5 kms.
  • Approximate travel time: 40 minutes.

Where is it located?

It is located on kilometer 8 of the La Mesa – Soacha highway. Then you have to take the road Cascajal – Parque Chicaque until kilometer 3.

Once there, you will find the parking lot, a restaurant and the park’s ticket office. After a short walk from the entrance, you will find with a spectacular viewpoint.

Sometimes the viewpoint gets cloudy, and you get the feeling of being above the clouds.

Recommedations Before Visiting Chicaque Park

  • We recommend wearing shoes with grippy soles and ankle protection.
  • Bring raincoat, hat, suscreen and insect repelent.
  • There is an electric jeep service that takes you from the refuge to the exit. Or, if you prefer, you can return on horseback.
  • If you suffer from cardiac or respiratory deficiencies, it is preferable that you do not go on long rides.
  • Note that the Park is not responsible for any type of injury or accident you may suffer.
  • The money paid for any service taken in the Park is not refundable.


The entrance fee to the park is around 10USD. Lodging has other rates, depending on where you want to stay: hotel, cabins, house tree, glamping or camping.

If you want to plan your trip to Colombia do not hesitate to contact us, visit our Plan your trip page!

  • Chicaque Park’s website.
About the author

Sara Colmenares

Current director of Sula. Doctor in Biological Sciences. Her main interests are to explore and understand the organism – environment interactions, taking advantage of emerging knowledge for the management and conservation of species and ecosystem services. She is currently working as a consultant in functional ecology, ecosystem services and conservation projects in Colombia related to ecotourism and birdwatching.

7 Nature Destinations to Visit with Your Kids in Colombia!

Traveling with kids can be challenging. First of all, you are concerned about their safety. Second, you don’t want them to get bored. Experiences in nature are among the best to ensure fun, learning, and building great and beautiful memories.

Nature offers activities that can strengthen the bonds with your kids, and also provide them with impressions they will carry with them forever.

Colombia has many offers of this type. However in this post I will tell you about the safest and most enjoyable nature experiences in Colombia for your kids (from 4 to 18 y/o)

The Coffee Triangle for Kids

The coffee triangle is a major destination in Colombia, despite its size, there is a great diversity of thermal floors and landscapes. For this reason, three of our recommended destinations are found there.

In addition, this is one of the safest regions in Colombia and with the friendliest people.

1. Hacienda Venecia Coffee Farm in Caldas

The department of Caldas is a coffee destination par excellence. There you can go with your kids and learn about the process of coffee production and also about cocoa, i.e. chocolate!


There are farms like Hacienda Venecia, which have different types of accommodations, several experience tours, different walking trails, and a swimming pool!

What to do?

It is a very safe place, and you will be able to take tours on foot, by bicycle, visit the plantations, get to know the most beautiful birds and butterflies of the coffee region, and enjoy with your kids the coffee landscape.

Explore the Surroundings

Caldas has to offer several destinations for birdwatching. In our post 9.5% of the Birds of the World: Main Spots for Birdwatching in Caldas, you will find the main birding destinations in Caldas.

From Hacienda Venecia you can also explore the surroundings, and visiting the city of Manizales and the Eco park Los Yarumos.

Buffy Helmetcrest – Oxypogon stubelii

You can also visit the Los Nevados NNP to get to know the paramo, one of the most important ecosystems in Colombia. Know more about this park in our entry Best Things to Know Before Visiting Los Nevados National Natural Park.

You can visit Los Nevados Park towards the Brisas sector, where there is a special platform for bird watching. From there it is possible to watch the Buffy Helmetcrest, and endemic hummingbird of Colombia.

On the way down from there you will find the Hotel Termales del Ruiz. The gardens of this hotel offer a  a fun activity that consists of feeding hummingbirds from the palm of your hand.


The sensation of feeling one of these birds landing on your fingers is a beautiful, touching and unique experience that your kids will always remember! If you want to know more about hummingbirds I recommend you to read our entry 17 Unique Hummingbirds of Colombia and Where to Find Them.

Finally, spend a day in places surrounded by plenty of wildlife and nature such as:

Finca Romelia Colors of Life

2. Botanical Garden, Panaca Park and the Wax Palm in Salento in Quindío

Quindío is a department where you can have a lot of fun with your kids! You can stay in the city of Armenia, where there are many country hotels with swimming pools. I recommend you the Hotel Sazagua.

Quindío Botanical Garden

From your hotel in Armenia, you can make a day visit to the Botanical Garden of Quindío.

This Botanical Garden holds the most complete and beautiful collections of palms, heliconia, and butterflies of Colombia.

Heliconius heliconius at Botanical Garden of Quindio

Panaca Park

Afterward, you can dedicate another day to visit the Panaca Park. If you prefer, you can stay in this park for several days at the Hotel Decameron that is inside it.

Panaca is a park dedicated to country life. There your kids will be able to have interactive experiences with farm animals, attend fun animal shows, go on carriage rides around the farm, and participate in adventure activities such as canopying or crossing tibetan bridges, among others!

The Cocora Valley in Salento

Finally, you can go to Salento and get to know one of the most emblematic landscapes of Colombia: the wax palm fields of Quindío!


Know more about the wax palm in our entries The Unique Wax Palm Forests Landscape Destinations in Colombia and The Wax Palm and Why it is a Must to See When Visiting Colombia.

3. Ukumari Park, the Hot Springs in Santa Rosa, and Otún Quimbaya Sanctuary in Risaralda

Leaving Manizales or Armenia, you can continue to the city of Pereira, and visit one of the most beautiful and oldest zoos in Colombia, the Ukumari bio park.

There your kids will be able to meet the most representative animals of the Colombian Andean forests, such as the Jaguarundi, the Chachalaca, the Black Spider Monkey, the Tapir and the Andean Spectacled Bear.

Ukumari Park ©Ukumari Website

Afterward, you have two options: visit the Santa Rosa de Cabal hot springs or go to the Otún Quimbaya Flora and Fauna Sanctuary.

Hot springs in Santa Rosa de Cabal

The Thermal Eco park has a spa where you will live a plan full of rest and fun with all your family. There are a 95-meter-high waterfall and five cold water streams that bathe the mountain, forming a dreamlike landscape.


In addition, you will be able to enjoy the Thermal Expedition. This expedition will be fantastic for the kids to know how the thermal waters are born. You will walk in the middle of the mountains of the Coffee Cultural Landscape, through the central Colombian mountain range.

There you will discover the water births, where it emerges from the earth at high temperatures. You will also see a spectacular waterfall of cold water and you will get to know different species of fauna and flora unique in the world. It is an experience full of adrenaline and fun.

Otún Quimbaya Flora and Fauna Sanctuary

The other option is the Otún Sanctuary. This is a more remote place, but don’t worry, it is perfectly safe. This park protects a sample of the sub-Andean jungle, one of the richest in Colombia.

Red Howler Monkey – Otún Quimbaya Flora and Fauna Sanctuary

It is a perfect place to get in full contact with nature, and to walk a lot. You can also observe the native flora and fauna.

4. The Eastern Plains for Kids: Lagos de Menegua

Lagos de Menegua is a hotel-reserve in the heart of the eastern plains of Colombia. It is also a very safe place and has a spectacular landscape. It is home to more than 800 species of mammals, fish, reptiles, and birds, including the traditional chigüiros (or capyvaras), yamus, pumas, crocodiles and lizards of the eastern plains.

Lagos de Menegua Hotel & Bioreserve

What to do?

There you can go on hiking routes, safari, biking, horseback riding, kayaking, fishing, spend an afternoon at the pool, and more, all in one place!

Kids fishing mojarras in Lagos de Menegua

At night you can go to see the stars, this is a unique experience since light pollution is very low in this region.

The Lagos de Menegua Bioreserve is one of the few privileged places that still have black skies. It is frequented by astronomers and amateurs from all over the world, for observation and photography of constellations, the Solar System and the Milky Way.

Astrotourism in Lagos de Menegua ©Lagos de Menegua

Its privileged location allows the simultaneous observation of the northern and southern hemispheres – a great experience for the whole family!

Explore the Surroundings

Additionally, from Lagos de Menegua you can go to the city of Puerto Gaitan and there embark on an aquatic safari along the Meta, Manacacias, and Yucao rivers.

You don’t need much luck to be able to see monkeys, turtles, otters, reptiles, and especially the Toninas, the river dolphins. An unforgettable trip for the whole family!

Ostrich Park, Puerto López, Meta

There are two more places that you can visit from Lagos de Menegua: the Obelisk, which is the geographical center of Colombia, and the Ostrich Park, where you will know everything about these birds.

5. San Cipriano Nature Reserve in the Pacific

This is a destination little known by foreigners, but worth visiting with your whole family.

San Cipriano is a natural reserve located in the Colombian Pacific, in the department of Valle del Cauca. This place has one of the purest and cleanest crystalline rivers in Colombia. It is a perfect place to swim and float on tires (tubing) while the slow current drags you through the dense subtropical jungle.

San Cipriano Nature Reserve
Cristaline Waters of San Cipriano

The huge reserve also has numerous hiking trails, which you can walk through day and night.

The “Brujitas”

One of the most exciting parts of the trip is the entrance to the reserve. You will enter in some small carts, called Brujita, which is attached to a train track, and moved by a motorcycle. It is a 30-minute ride where you will feel like you are being engulfed by the rainforest tropical jungle.

Brujitas transportation of San Cipriano

What to do?

Spend a day in San Cipriano bathing in the rivers and natural lagoons, walking, and admiring the fauna and flora of this region. There are plenty of animals to see there as toucans, sloths, turtles, and many special birds. You can also stay in the town of San Cipriano, but the hotels offer very basic services.

Tubing along the River of San Cipriano

I recommend you to stay in Cali, or in a closer hotel called Hotel la Huerta. From there, you can go and return on the same day to San Cipriano, and there you will have all the comfort for you and your family.

La Huerta Hotel

This hotel has a swimming pool, a small nature reserve and a vegetable plantation. The hotel manages a farm to table meal plan. There, your kids will learn the processes of organic agriculture, from sowing to eating.

La Huerta Hotel

They can also walk among the plantations, observe birds in the forest and surroundings, or simply relax in the pool.

Another advantage of La Huerta Hotel is its proximity to other nice places you can visit with your kids, such as the Yotoco Reserve, where you will meet the howler monkeys; or the Calima Lake Nautical Club, where you can practice water sports such as sailing.

Calima Lake from La Huerta Hotel

6. The Chicamocha Canyon in Santander

The Chicamocha National Park is another recommended destination if you travel with kids.

You will visit one of the largest and most impressive canyons in South America, while having a lot of fun. Know more about the Chicamocha Canyon in our entry The Chicamocha Canyon, the 1st Largest Canyon in Colombia.

Chicamocha Canyon

What to do?

There you can enjoy extreme activities such as driving buggies, zip line, paragliding, swinging, and rappeling or canyoning. There are also other activities such as interaction with farm animals, virtual reality experiences and 4D movies.

The park also has an aqua park with large pools and slides. Perfect to ensure fun!

It is a place very close to the city of Bucaramanga, only one hour from Bogotá by plane.

7. Bio-park Guátika and Chicaque Park – Near to Bogotá

If you are in Bogotá, there are many places you can visit with your kids. However, I recommend two places that they might love.

Chicaque Park

First, Chicaque. It is about an hour from downtown Bogotá. This park is a very recommended place for visiting with your kids and meet the high Andean cloud forest of Colombia.

Chicaque Park, landscape from the viewpoint!

The park has seven thematic trails where you can visit waterfalls, discover butterflies and birds, oaks, and breathtaking views.

There you can also do the zip line and canopy activities, horseback riding, bird watching, and even spend the night at the park’s hotel.

Sleeping in a tree house!

In Chicaque you will find something unique, the possibility of sleeping in the treetops. At this moment, it has two rooms called Nests, with accommodation for 4 to 6 people.

This is a dream experience, as well as unforgettable for the kids, because who didn’t want to sleep in a tree house?

Tree House at Chicaque Park

Guátika Park

On the other hand, there is the Guátika biopark, Only three hours from Bogotá, this zoo has everything for family fun.

Guátika is a place that houses, in the best possible way, animals that for various reasons can no longer be in their natural habitat.

Guátika Hotel Boutique

More than 500 animals are kept there, diverse species of domestic, exotic and wild fauna, in beautiful open and naturalized spaces.

Guátika Park

There, your kids will understand the value of rescuing wildlife and why it is not good to take animals out of their natural environment.

Guátika Park

They will also be able to enjoy adventure activities such as climbing, buggy tours, zip-lining and horseback riding.

You can stay at the biopark hotel, which has beautiful country architecture and the best view of the Sugamuxi Valley. 

Guátika Park


  • Santa Marta – Minca
  • Medellín – Guatapé
  • Cali and the Cali Zoo

If you want to know more about the most incredible natural destinations in Colombia, plan your trip with us!

About the author

Sara Colmenares

Current director of Sula. Doctor in Biological Sciences. Her main interests are to explore and understand the organism – environment interactions, taking advantage of emerging knowledge for the management and conservation of species and ecosystem services. She is currently working as a consultant in functional ecology, ecosystem services and conservation projects in Colombia related to ecotourism and birdwatching.

Discover the Chicamocha Canyon, the Largest Canyon in Colombia

The Chicamocha Canyon, is perhaps the best known and one of the largest canyons in Colombia, with 227 kilometers. Unique species grow there, such as the Chestnut Bellied Hummingbird (Amazilia castaneiventris), the Colombian Baobab (Cavanillesia chicamochae), and a spiny cactus, with a common name that reflects the care with which it should be explored: they call it Mother-in-law’s cushion (or Turk’s cap cactus) (Melocactus sp.).

Colombian Baobab (Cavanillesia chicamochae)

The Chicamocha Canyon, in northeastern Colombia, attracts tons of tourists wanting to experience adventure and nature combined. Visiting the Chicamocha canyon in the department of Santander will not only leave you amazed by its majestic landscapes but will also leave you breathless for all the adrenaline you will feel practicing adventure sports along with it. 

In this post, you will find all the information you need to know before visiting the Chicamocha Canyon. How to get there, what to do therewhere to stay, the best time to visit and also some recommendations for you to make the most of your trip. 

Discovering the Chicamocha Canyon 

The department of Santander is blessed with the presence of a grand geographical accident turned into a great tourist attraction for locals and foreigners. The Chicamocha Canyon is located between Bucaramanga – the capital city, and San Gil, it specifically passes by the villages of AratocaCepitá, Los Santos, and Jordán. 

With a length of 227 km (141 mi)an area of 108,000 hectares (270,000 acres) and a maximum depth of 2,000 m (6,600 ft)the Chicamocha Canyon is the largest in Colombia and the second-largest in the world. The elevation of the terrain goes from 900 to 1900 MASL (2950 to 6200 ft), with temperatures ranging from 11°C to 32°C. 

Reportedly, it started forming in the Early Oligoceneover 30 million years ago. The vegetation in the canyon is characteristic of tropical dry forests and premontane forests. 

Because of its majesty, Chicamocha was even nominated to be part of the 7 world’s natural wonders in 2009. Additionally, the canyon keeps cultural importance since its lands were inhabited by the Guane indigenous, who left a trace in their rock art. Pictographs can still be found in the region. 

In 2006, Parque Nacional del Chicamocha -PANACHI- was inaugurated and opened to the public. It sits on one of the slopes, on the road from San Gil to Bucaramanga. 

Today, this national park is a favorite destination among Colombians since it allows visitors to enjoy the incredible landscape of the canyon in several fun waysThe activities offered in the park include paragliding over the canyon, riding the zipline that crosses from one side to the other, or canoeing along the river 

How to get to the Chicamocha National Park 

 Your starting point should be Bogotá, Bucaramanga or San Gil. 

From Bogota

Bogotá is around 330 km (205 mi) from Chicamocha National Park, which means a 7-hour drive towards the northeast of the capital along Route 45A. Otherwise, there are direct flights that take about 1 hour offered by Avianca and Viva Air. 

Whether for Bucaramanga or San Gil, you can take a bus from the transport terminals Norte or Salitre, which leave approximately every hour. 

From Bucaramanga

Bucaramanga is 54 km (33 mi) north of the Chicamocha National Park which translates into a 1-hour 20 minutes road trip. If you prefer to get first to Bucaramanga from Bogota, that will be 390 km (240 mi) – an 8.5-hour road trip. 

From San Gil

San Gil is 41 km (26 mi) from the Chicamocha National Park, so it is a shorter trip of about an hour.  But if you opt to arrive in San Gil from Bogota first, the trip duration goes down to 6 hours.

What to do in the Chicamocha National Park 


Chicamocha National Park has a 360° viewpoint on a hill which you can get to by walking or taking the Chiva – a traditional colorful bus used for transport or parties in Colombia. This is the perfect spot to capture amazing pictures to take home as a souvenir. 


You can choose to ride one of the 3 ziplines in the park. The first zipline is 450 meters long and crosses the Chicamocha canyon and river, offering stunning views. The second one (Vuelo mirador) is shorter but more extreme – you will feel more vertigo. The last one is specially designed for children 

Paragliding, one of the most popular activities in Chicamocha

You can do it in nearby villages or over the park. This, of course, will affect the price, along with the duration of the flight (usually 20-30 minutes). It is up to you.

Paragliding over adjacent villages allows you to overlook tobacco and coffee plantations in differently colored parcels of land, seeing the gorge far awayOn the other hand, paragliding over the Chicamocha canyon is an unrivaled experience, from the flight height to the views – you can even see the Nevado de Cocuy. The adrenaline shot in both cases is great. 


Another way to enjoy the landscapes of Chicamocha is by riding the cable car, which travels 6.3 km across the canyon. The tour takes between 20 to 30 minutes and each cabin has a capacity for 8 people. The journey through the canyon is one of the major attractions of tourism in Santander. 


Riding on a 15-meter swing, swinging over the immense Chicamocha canyon is one of the attractions of the park with the most adrenaline. 


The Chicamocha National Aquapark is an aquatic complex full of pools, slides, and sun. It has a capacity of up to 4,000 people. 


You can experience a kilometer of excitement by riding a track full of ups and downs in off-road carts for one or two people.  


On the 360° viewpoint, you can descend by rope a 40-meter high waterfall, but you have the option to do rappel. Everyone – from children, young and adults, can enjoy this experience that requires agility and motivation. 

Chicamocha Canyon Race

There is a trail running competition every year since 2013 held in the canyon and the surrounding villages. The Chicamocha Canyon Race is a 4-day/2-night/52-hour nonstop competition where over 800 runners of 29 nationalities participate. It starts in San Gil and passes by other 7 municipalities. 

The race consists of walking or running through the mountains, along royal paths, secondary roads, crossing streams, old bridges, etc., with technical ascents and descents. Each runner decides where to walk, run and rest, but following an established route. 

There are different distance categories (from half marathon to 100 miles). This is definitely an extreme experience only for the most daring – and fit, travelers. 

As if that weren’t enough, Chicamocha has an ice-skating rink, 4D cinema, virtual reality, ostrich, and goat farms, where you can be with the animals and feed them. 

How much it costs? 

  • Only the entrance fee to the park is 25,000 COP for adults and 18,000 for children. 
  • Park entrance fee and the cable car is 50,000 COP for adults and 32,000 COP for children. 
  • The entrance fee to the park and the aquapark is 38,000 COP for adults and 32,000 COP for children. 
  • All the attractions in the park + cable car + aquapark is 58,000 COP for adults and 43,000 COP for children. 
  • *Children under 2 years old and adults over 60 years old don’t pay. The child fee applies up to 1.40 meters tall. 

Where to stay in Chicamocha National Park 

There is no accommodation in the Chicamocha park, so you need to look for hotels in Bucaramanga or San Gil. There is one for every taste and budget. 

Best time to travel to the Chicamocha National Park 

A general recommendation is to plan your Colombian trips avoiding the high seasons, which usually go from June to early August and from November to February, also during Holy Week and long weekends. This way the park will not be as packed and the prices will be more reasonable. 

What you should consider when visiting the Chicamocha National Park 

  • The park opens Wednesday to Friday from 10 am to 6 pm and weekends and holidays from 9 am to 7 pm *in the low season.
  • The cable car operates in specific hours until 1 hour before the park closes. 
  • Wear light clothes and sneakers so you are comfortable. Also, always use sunscreen and a cap/hat. 
  • Bring enough water for the day. Anyway, there are restaurants and small shops to buy snacks and drinks. 
  • Bring your swimsuit and a change of clothes if you plan to enter the aquapark. 
  • Follow strictly the safety recommendations of the adventure sports operators to avoid any injuries or incidents. 
  • Support local agencies, hotels, and tour operators. This way you contribute to sustainable development in the communities. 

This was the essential information for visiting the Chicamocha canyon in Colombia. We hope this was useful and encouraged you to visit this beautiful country! 

About the authors

Ana María Parra

Current content writer for Sula. Modern Languages professional with an emphasis on business translation. Interested in the cultural adaptation of written and audiovisual content.  Passionate about knowing new cultures and languages, tourism, and sustainable living.

#1 Rafting and Natural Pools Destination in Colombia: The Güejar River

Many foreign travelers and even Colombians have no idea about the hidden treasure that the Canyon of the Guejar River isNestled in a remote zone of the Meta department, in the Colombian Llanos, the canyon formed by the Guejar river is just starting to be explored by adventurous travelers.

Some years ago, it was not possible to access the zone due to Guerrillas settlements, but now there is nothing to worry about, the place is safe and boasts incredible beauty. Turquoise waters that form natural slides, pools, waterfalls, and Jacuzzis, shaped by huge polished rock formations and surrounded by lush vegetation -these are the reasons to travel to the Guejar River in Colombia. 

In this post, you will find all the information you need to know to travel to the Guejar River, such as what the charm of the Guejar River is, how to get there, the best time to visit, and what to do there. 

Discovering the Guejar River 

As already mentioned, the Guejar river is a natural treasure that remained hidden for many years until the 2010s. The view is stunning. A long river makes its way between big rock formations that easily beat the 20 meters high. 

Some of these rocks are among the oldest on the planet, because they belong to the millenary Guiana Shield, which is born in Venezuela, crosses the La Macarena mountain range, and reaches Ecuador and Brazil. 

The forest surrounding the stunning canyon is still pristine and undiscovered. The canyon is part of the special management area of La Macarena National Natural Park; hence it hosts amazing wildlife and flora. Birds and butterflies of all colors flying around you all the way. Sometimes, otters, sloths, and monkeys are spotted next to the river. 

During the tour along the river, you will find refreshing natural pools, fun slides, waterfalls, and even JacuzzisIf you like to watch wildlife in their habitat, go birdwatching, venture out into the wilderness to hike and explore rivers, mountains, forests, and plains so you have a deep connection with nature, the adventure activities, and interact with local cultures, the trip to the Guejar river is for you! 

How to get to the Guejar River 


There are two routes you can take to get to the Guejar river. Both pass by Villavicencio, the capital of Meta, but differ from the town you arrive in to stay the night and start your trip to the river. 

Bogotá – Villavicencio 

Depending on where you’re staying in Bogota, there are 2 highways you can take, both to the south of the city. From the southern city limits, there is 105 km (65 mi) until the city of Villavicencio, a trip of a bit more than 2 hours. 

Route Villavicencio – San Juan de Arama 

From Villavicencio, getting to San Juan de Arama means traveling 120 km (75 mi) on a paved road, a trip that takes about 2.2 hours by car. You have to take the Ruta Turística del Ariariwhich allows you to see the vast plains on both sides hosting different kinds of birds and even the Macarena mountain range. 

There are 2 tolls on the road. You can stop by any establishment to taste the local delicacies. Once in San Juan de Arama, it just takes 15 minutes to get to the starting point of the rafting tour by the Guejar river canyon, which is within the village of Mesetas. Local guides take the visitors to the Limonar bridge in their 4×4. 

Route Villavicencio – Lejanías 

The route from Villavicencio to the village of Lejanías has a similar distance to the route to San Juan Arama, 126 km (78 mi) or 2.2 hours. A popular stop, 1.5 hours from the village, is Finca El Diamante, a small lodge where you can camp, stay the night in a cabin or just eat something before the adventure.

To get there you must pay a local to take you in a 4×4 or a motorcycle since the road is very bumpy. Once there, you have the advantage of only having to walk a few minutes through the forest to be facing the Guejar river. 

Where to stay 

San Juan de Arama  

  • Hotel Palacio Real, you get a double room for COP 40,000  50,000  with an air conditioner or fan. 


  • Finca El Diamante in the “Maravillas del Guejar” viewpoint offers accommodation in cabins or camping. The price per person per night is COP 50,000 in a cabin and COP 7,000 in camping. Although the cabins can accommodate up to 6 people and the overall price is COP 100,000. 


  • Hotel Casa Blanca Cubarral, you get a double room for COP 40,000  50,000  with an air conditioner or fan. 

Best time to travel to the Guejar River 

There are no seasons in Colombia, at least the traditional 4 seasons that you have in North America or Europe. However, there is a rainy and dry season. During the rainy season, which goes from late March to November, you can see the Caño Lajon waterfall in all its glory.

The access road, though, gets more complicated to travel along and, since the water flow rises, it is riskier to bathe or practice rafting in the river.

During the dry season, from December to Marchyou observe the color of the river get more vibrant, plus the cool water will be well appreciated because of the heat you’ll be standing.

To sum up, we consider that the best time to travel to the Guejar river is during the dry season. 

What to do there 

It is said that you can witness 5 marvels in the Guejar River, in no specific order: 

Río Guejar Canyon experience courtesy Travesía Aventura.

Pozo Escondido is found by surprise on an ascending hike. It consists of natural pools of green waters that cannot be more refreshing. 

Caño Lajón waterfall is a wonderful sight, especially when the river flow is high you can enjoy a mighty stream falling of rugged stones covered in moss. You can even stand behind the falls and freshen up with the mist. 

Sliding down the slippery stone slabs is so much fun! You can find several natural slides that flow into turquoise pools 

At another point in the river, you can get a free massage in the natural Jacuzzis of the river, areas with a strong flow of water and small falls that offer pure relaxation. Water at this point is more crystalline and seems turquoise. 

Caño Jordán waterfall is also called ‘El vómito’ -the vomit, because of the shot that can be achieved from a precise angle in the viewpoint. This fall is a wonderful sight because of the intense green that frames it. 

Rafting experience courtesy Travesía Aventura. Río Guejar Canyon.

You can meet all these marvels on a hiking tour. However, rafting in the Guejar river canyon is the to-go option for the courageous travelers who want a rush of adrenaline in wild Colombia! A rafting tour takes about 5 hours, the distance to be covered is 17 km, 10.5 mi rowing with the hope of not falling off the boat. 

The river is classified as level 3 out of 5 in difficulty. A big plus: midway through the journey, you find ‘the Titanic’a sharp oval stone that seems like the front of a ship that has run aground in the middle of nature. This is the first stop, where there is time for having a snack, a talk, and a rest. Depending on the agency, the cost will be around 160,000 COP (40 USD) per person. 

The Titanic – Rafting experience courtesy Travesía Aventura. Río Guejar Canyon.

What to consider for your travel to Guejar River? 

For you to have an unforgettable experience in the Guejar river and no setbacks, consider the following aspects: 

  • Wear light and comfortable clothes, long pants if you want to avoid mosquito bites and scratches. But shorts are fine. 
  • Wear trekking shoes or shoes with grip soles that can get wet. Walking along the river is risky due to the slippery stones, so not wearing any shoes is not an option. 
  • Wear a hat or cap, plus sunscreen. Also, bring insect repellent. 
  • Don’t forget your swimsuit! 
  • If you prefer, bring a towel and a change of clothes. 
  • A GoPro is the most suitable equipment to record your experience, but if you bring any other device, make sure you have airtight plastic bags too.  
  • Respect the environment, do not leave trash nor remove fauna or flora from their habitat. 
  • Always book your tour with local guides and certified agencies to practice extreme sports. 

This is all you need to know to travel to the Guejar River Canyon. If you are planning a trip to Colombia, we are happy to help you have an unforgettable nature experience! Contact us!

About the authors

Ana María Parra

Current content writer for Sula. Modern Languages professional with an emphasis on business translation. Interested in the cultural adaptation of written and audiovisual content.  Passionate about knowing new cultures and languages, tourism and sustainable living.