San Gil is a town in Northeast of Colombia, around 300 km away from Bogota. San Gil is Colombia’s adventure capital. A very cool place with super steep streets, beautiful plaza, nice people. Here is so much stuff to do, for sure you won’t get bored. Its a paradise for people who like extreme sports, the most known one is white water rafting, and it is for sure one of the best things to do in San Gil. Besides that, you can do bungee, paragliding, canyoning, caving, hiking and so much more.
How to get to San Gil
We arrived in San Gil from Villa de Leyva, it was easy, just a bit longer than we expected. First, we took a bus from Villa de Leyva to Tunja, 45 minutes away, 7.500 COP (2€;2,3$).
In Tunja you have to take another bus to San Gil, ride takes 4 hours or more, it cost 50.000 COP (14€;15,7$). Please be careful at Tunja station, they tried to rip us off. When you arrive there, a bunch of people comes to you asking where are you going and they wanted to charge us 80.000 each. Just keep that in mind and don’t overpay the ticket.
Where to sleep in San Gil
We stayed 3 nights in San Gil, we booked Hostal Le Papillon, which I would recommend. It’s cheap, the breakfast is delicious, they have a water filter and its relatively close to the town center. For a private room with a fan, breakfast, and shared bathroom we payed 20.000 COP each (5,6€;6,3$). Click HERE to get 10% discount for your stay.
Best things to do in San Gil
Rio Suarez rafting
Rafting, rafting, rafting. If you visit San Gil, you have to do the rafting. I was a first-timer, a bit nervous, I admit. We weren’t sure which rafting option we pick, cause we had two options:
Rio Fonce river rafting is easy and the cheap one, Rio Fonce is the river that runs through San Gil. It takes around one hour, you can do it any time, it has rapids 1 to 3. We decided that this is for children, so we went for another option:
Rio Suarez rafting. The Suarez river is for sure the best big volume run in Colombia. It has thrilling rapids (4 to 5 ) and huge waves. For me personally, this was an unforgettable experience, I would recommend it to everybody that visits San Gil.
You start in the morning, around 10 am they pick you up from your hostel/hotel. You drive a bit more than an hour until you reach Rio Suarez. Then you get all safety gear, instruction, some practice in the water before everything starts. You start with Level 3 rapid, which is already super exciting and the next 3 hours you are in the raft with your team paddling and enjoying the best section 3, 4 and 5 rapids. The scenery is beautiful as well, nature, birds. In the end, there was a beer waiting for us, snacks and fruits and then ride back to San Gil, you arrive back around 5 pm.
We did the rafting with Exploradores Colombia, highly recommend. They do an outstanding job, they are a super cool team, professional, your safety is their first priority. Support kayakers and guide team ensure that you are safe. In the end, they give you free photos of the tour, which is great, all the others charge extra for the photos.
Price for the day rafting trip cost 130.000 COP (36€;41$), everything is included (insurance, transport, food).
Sunscream and shoes or sandals (not flip flops!) is what to bring with you to rafting.
This is all you take with you to the river, you can bring your bag as well but you will leave everything in the van, it will wait for you until you finish the tour.
Rio Suarez rafting is challenging and exciting, but it can be done if you are a first timer (as I was). You just need to love some adrenaline and know how to swim and you will be fine. It is one of the best activities I have done in Colombia so far, it’s just a day perfect spend.
Barichara is a small town in northern Colombia. It’s known for its colonial architecture and stone paved streets. If you like telenovelas, many of them are filmed in Barichara. It’s a beautiful small town, one of the most beautiful in Colombia as they say, where you can stroll the streets and relax.
We visited Barichara only for a day trip from San Gil, the reason was that San Gil has cheaper accommodation and more stuff to do. If you visit Barichara from San Gil its easy, its only 45 minutes drive away by a local bus. In San Gil just go to the local bus station, you have buses there every half an hour or so. The ticket was 4.900 COP (1,4€;1,55$).