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.).

Cavanillesia chicamochae
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.