After three weeks of family holiday across Colombia, Laura and I had a little more time before the time together in Colombia was also up for us. We decided to visit Guatavita, Tunja, San Gil, hike the Camino Real and spend some time in and around Bucaramanga for my 40th birthday. Owing to some flight changes, we also had another night in Bogota (4th time in a month!) to celebrate the Little Candles Day.
Guatavita: Quiet Colonial Pearl
Guatavitain in the region of Cundinamarca is just 75km outside of Bogota and easily reached by bus. It was our fist stop towards Santander though, owing to limited public transport options, we had to return to Bogota first. Nice village near a lake that offers lots of outdoor options on top of its colonial architecture. We skipped outdoor this time due to wet weather. Memorable remain the conversations with two (drunk) farmers in the evening … not easy to understand admittedly …
Tunja: Better impression second time round
I had been to Tunja briefly before on the way to Villa de Leyva. My memories are far from brilliant, as I stayed near the bus terminal and missed the historic center completely. This time I fixed that and explored the plaza and many streets with colonial houses. Sadly we didn’t explore the hills around the city … they look very inviting for a hike. Tunja is the capital of the Boyaca department – the main place where the Colombians grow potatoes.
San Gil: Rafting the Colombian way
San Gil is commonly considered the outdoor capital of Colombia offering sports like bungee jumping (we just went for a look, but didn’t jump), paragliding, rafting and more. We started with a visit to the botanical garden and had fun with some squirrels (and mosquitoes). San Gil is also home to a rather special delicacy … the big ass ant or “Hormigas Culonas”. Apparently it has aphrodisiac-like effects (but that could convince me either … just didn’t like the taste). At night San Gil is covered in light all around the main square with life music and a very relaxed atmosphere.
Rafting the Suarez river: In the end we decided to do rafting. Here the video. Now, i have been on previous rafting tours. Never (ever) did they spent 20mins on the safety briefing. Already there and then i felt something was coming. When we had to practice live rescue in the river, it was clear that they did this for a reason.
In the end we flipped once on a grade 5 rapid (the other boat three times!). Being under water in rapids with not exactly the best life vest was a frightening experience. You just don’t stay as calm as you should and your heart is racing and your breathing not controlled. Needless to say i was happy to get back into the boat to enjoy some more up to two meter high waves.
At the end of a memorable trip the consensus was clear – not again. People also thought that in other countries tour operators would not be allowed to expose clients to this level of risk.
Bucaramanga: Paragliding on my 40th birthday
Bucaramanga is a nice city. Quiet and tidy and with many restaurant options. To celebrate my 40th birthday we checked ourselves into the Dann Carlton hotel. Five star express into my next decade!
The birthday organisation was flawless. Paragliding over the roofs of the city, time for a bit of wellness and an amazing dinner… We even managed to recycle the helium inside my birthday balloons 😂🤣😂
Giron: This suburb of Bucaramanga can easily be reached by bus or (if coming from Bucaramanga) by Uber/Taxi. Stunning colonial architecture awaits you.
Bogota: For the fourth time …
I guess laura just didn’t want to leave! Her flight to Bogota was delayed and that meant she wouldn’t make her connection to Santa Marta that night. So we headed to downtown together and participated in the Little Candles Day celebrations – the unofficial kick-off of the x-mas season in Colombia. And after the fourth stopover in Bogota also my Colombia trip came to an end. See you in Berlin for new years!