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San Gil, Colombia - Activities Include Paragliding, Horsetreks, Hiking & Rafting

Colombia travel blog by Mark Berman - July 2013   » View Photoset (49 Photos)

Mark Berman, South America backpacker for 10yrs!
After spending the night in Bucaramanga, it took around 90mins to get to San Gil in a shared van the next morning. It's a nice trip down with scenery of the
Colombia Photo - Local man with a cowboy hat sits in the main park in San Gil.
Local man with a cowboy hat sits in the main park in San Gil.
great river Rio Chicamocha on the righthand side. 20mins north of Aratoca is park Parque Nacional del Chicamocha where cable cars take you up into the hills for fantastic views. For an idea of other activities in the area have a look at AventuraTotal for paragliding, horsetreks, hiking, absailing, rafting and caving.

Glad to Be Here

I was glad to be in San Gil at last. I say 'at last' because my simple 9hr bus from Santa Marta to Bucaramanga ended up being 26hrs after we were stopped at a road block 3hrs south of Santa Marta for 11hrs and had to in the end take an alternative partly unsealed road that took much longer, it was dreadful. Like
Colombia Photo - Man visits a house on a street corner in San Gil.
Man visits a house on a street corner in San Gil.
I said I was glad to be here just to chill-out for a couple of nights and see the town and area while on my way to Bogota.

Getting a Feel

It's a nice place, it's attractive with its cobblestones and steep roads and the red tiled roofs really stand out. One thing I also like a lot is the climate. Being at 1166m.a.s.l. it is warm / hot in the day and cool at night. From the top of the street where my hostel was the views extended to the green valleys and hills in the distance. A mixture of pigeons and black vultures hung out on the roofs in the morning sun while a man walked 5 large dogs along the cobblestone street.

The Park is Nice

I made my way down the road past some interesting building facades to the city park Parque La Lidertad. Across the road I had a cooked breakfast for $2.50USD. It's a
Colombia Photo - View from the local bus terminal in San Gil up to the white cross mirador lookout.
View from the local bus terminal in San Gil up to the white cross mirador lookout.
beautiful park with huge trees and many bench seats, nearly enough for the whole town. Late afternoon is the busiest time here, lots of activity and people enjoying the end of the day. A big monument of 3 figures on a great chunk of rock stands in the middle and nearby is a white bust of Carlos Martinez Silva (1847-1903) - a politician, writer and diplomat born in San Gil. On the upperside of the park is the cathedral Parroquia Santa Cruz which was built between 1769 and 1791, it's impressive inside and out. Other churches around town include the stone churches Capilla de San Vicente de Paul and Iglesia San Francisco on a street
Colombia Photo - Simon Bolivar bust beside the river in San Gil.
Simon Bolivar bust beside the river in San Gil.
corner with its big wooden arched doorway.

Market and Juices

Checking out the markets of Mercado Cubierto - a very lively area with lots of activity. Go inside to the hallway full of juice stands serving tropical ice-cream with fruit and cream in tall glasses!

Edible Ants

You will no doubt see in a shop or be offered by street vendors all around the area little bags or containers of large black edible ants, they seem to be very popular in this part of the country. I tasted one but didn't quite understand what all the fuss was about, must be an acquired taste!

Over the Bridge and River

A headed across the bridge over the river to the park area where you can buy cool flavoured ice cups to drink, there's a monument to Simon Bolivar and a giant ant monument also. Up on the hill is a large white cross, this is the mirador lookout point - head up at days end when the sun is in the best position for views and photos. There is a lot more to see in San Gil and I look forward to visiting again!

Bus to Barichara

What I really wanted to do was visit nearby Barichara, a very special colonial town. I walked to the bus terminal not far from the river, buses leave every hour. I came back to San Gil after spending the afternoon in Barichara and spent the night, then left early the next morning on a 6hr bus to Bogota.

Distances Elsewhere

Distances from San Gil to other cities: 95kms to Bucaramanga, 37kms to Charala, 22kms to Socorro, 330kms to Bogota.

     

View all photos in the San Gil Photoset


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Distances & times (if available) from San Gil (Colombia) to:


Map location: San Gil, Colombia. San Gil is a well-kept colonial town and a center for outdoor adventure in Colombia! Like Bucaramanga they like to eat large black edible ants, you can buy them in bags. Visit beautiful Barichara from here!
 A : Barichara - Colombia 13 kms 13 kms straight distance | 1hr 19mins 1hr 19mins by car (31 kms) | 1hr 34mins 1hr 34mins by bus (31 kms) (31 kms)
 B : Bucaramanga - Colombia 61 kms 61 kms straight distance | 3hrs 2mins 3hrs 2mins by car (117 kms) | 3hrs 38mins 3hrs 38mins by bus (117 kms) (117 kms)
 C : Bucaramanga to Cucuta - Colombia 91 kms 91 kms straight distance | 5hrs 11mins 5hrs 11mins by car (183 kms) | 6hrs 13mins 6hrs 13mins by bus (183 kms) (183 kms)
 D : Medellin to Bucaramanga - Colombia 123 kms 123 kms straight distance | 5hrs 46mins 5hrs 46mins by car (298 kms) | 6hrs 55mins 6hrs 55mins by bus (298 kms) (298 kms)
 E : Cucuta to Venezuela - Colombia 165 kms 165 kms straight distance | 7hrs 43mins 7hrs 43mins by car (306 kms) | 9hrs 15mins 9hrs 15mins by bus (306 kms) (306 kms)
 F : Bogota - Colombia 243 kms 243 kms straight distance | 6hrs 33mins 6hrs 33mins by car (324 kms) | 7hrs 51mins 7hrs 51mins by bus (324 kms) (324 kms)
 G : San Antonio to San Cristobal - Venezuela 165 kms 165 kms straight distance | 8hrs 28mins 8hrs 28mins by car (341 kms) | 10hrs 9mins 10hrs 9mins by bus (341 kms) (341 kms)
 H : EAFIT University Medellin - Colombia 267 kms 267 kms straight distance | 9hrs 37mins 9hrs 37mins by car (495 kms) | 11hrs 32mins 11hrs 32mins by bus (495 kms) (495 kms)
 I : Medellin - Colombia 274 kms 274 kms straight distance | 10hrs 3mins 10hrs 3mins by car (500 kms) | 12hrs 3mins 12hrs 3mins by bus (500 kms) (500 kms)
 J : Guatape / Penol - Colombia 230 kms 230 kms straight distance | 10hrs 16mins 10hrs 16mins by car (549 kms) | 12hrs 19mins 12hrs 19mins by bus (549 kms) (549 kms)
 K : Merida - Venezuela 313 kms 313 kms straight distance | 12hrs 52mins 12hrs 52mins by car (599 kms) | 15hrs 26mins 15hrs 26mins by bus (599 kms) (599 kms)
 L : Salento - Colombia 339 kms 339 kms straight distance | 12hrs 22mins 12hrs 22mins by car (607 kms) | 14hrs 50mins 14hrs 50mins by bus (607 kms) (607 kms)
 M : El Paramo - Venezuela 324 kms 324 kms straight distance | 13hrs 16mins 13hrs 16mins by car (617 kms) | 15hrs 55mins 15hrs 55mins by bus (617 kms) (617 kms)
 N : Mucuchies - Venezuela 348 kms 348 kms straight distance | 14hrs 14mins 14hrs 14mins by car (651 kms) | 17hrs 4mins 17hrs 4mins by bus (651 kms) (651 kms)
 O : Magangue to Mompos - Colombia 344 kms 344 kms straight distance | 13hrs 13mins 13hrs 13mins by car (749 kms) | 15hrs 51mins 15hrs 51mins by bus (749 kms) (749 kms)
Driving times are accurate but approximate and are listed in the order of driving distance! Drive times are always affected by weather conditions, the terrain, time of day, altitude, dinner and bathroom stops, animals on the road, protests, a fast or slow bus driver, police checkpoints, border and river crossings, dropping off and picking up passengers etc. These drive times are obtained from Google Maps and are meant as a guide. Note however, times quoted in the main text of this page are exactly as the author experienced it.


My Hostel & Hotel Reviews for San Gil, Colombia:

Hostal El Papillon, San Gil, Colombia - Large Photo
Hostal El Papillon, San Gil, Colombia (July 2013 - 2 nights) - Spent 2 great nights at this hostel in a private room, shared bathroom situation. The kitchen is big and has everything for cooking. The back garden is nice and has hammocks to relax in. The owners are very nice and helpful. Recommended.

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San Gil, Colombia - Activities Include Paragliding, Horsetreks, Hiking & Rafting. San Gil is a well-kept colonial town and a center for outdoor adventure in Colombia! Like Bucaramanga they like to eat large black edible ants, you can buy them in bags. Visit beautiful Barichara from here!

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