San Gil is the favorite destination for national and international tourists looking for extreme sports and for adventurous holidays. It’s located just 2 hours away from Bucaramanga and an hour away from the Chicamocha canyon. Some of the activities you can do there are: kayaking, rappelling, caving, mountain biking, bungee jumping, climbing, and white-water rafting. There are different hiking trails to see some nice waterfalls and to be in contact with the beautiful nature of this part of the country. Nice restaurants, busy night life and variety of places to stay are part of this small city.
Known as “the city of parks” or “the beautiful city of Colombia”, Bucaramanga is the capital city of the Santander region. It is located in the east part of the country, strategically located at the same distance from the capital city and the Caribbean coast. It´s population is around 1 million (including the surrounding area), with a growing industry sector and constructions everywhere, a sign that the city is trying to meet the demands of its growing population. Colombian Dude operates from this colombian city, where it is possible to have a urban life with the advantages of an small city. Bucaramanga is the place of numerous parks to spend some time while enjoying the pleasant weather (around 25 degrees on average with few variations through the year). A day out to Mesa de los Santos is a must see destination, a place to do different activities like camping, paintballing , quad biking, hiking and behold the incredible Chicamocha canyon.
This lovely historical town is just outside Bucaramanga. It has a beautiful architecture to admire while walking through its small streets, where you can get an idea of how life works in small towns of the region. A visit to Giron is a nice and relax time away from the busy life of Bucaramanga. The main square has a wonderful cathedral and nice cafes to drink a Colombian cup of coffee while watching the world going by. You can also choose to visit it at night, to admire the nice look of the plazas, churches and antique houses, as well as trying the delicious typical food from Santander.
If you are in search of the most beautiful places of the country and the ones who have conserved the original architecture and spirit, don´t miss the colonial village of Barichara, labeled as the most beautiful village of Colombia due to the charming buildings that are built from mud and white washed by craftsmen. Get a feeling of the place by enjoying a walk around the town, the shops full of handicrafts, bags and souvenirs. There are now some boutique hotels with beautiful rooms and facilities, as well as superb restaurants that are popular in the region and can get busy sometimes. Enjoy the landscape that surrounds Barichara and use some time to take amazing pictures of your trip.
VILLA DE LEYVA
This colonial town will get your attention from the very first time because of the architecture, atmosphere and the incredible 14.000 square meter plaza. Enjoy it by sitting at any of the numerous cafes placed around while drinking an authentic tinto (black coffee). You can stay in colonial houses that have been refurbished to operate as hotels, or in rural houses outside the town. The kite festival takes place in August every year, which could be the perfect time to visit Villa de Leyva. Nearby towns like Raquira (where you can find the best craftsmen of the country and get lost in the lovely Sunday market) is a good option to have a day out. Admire the pottery, hand-woven bags, sweaters and other goods that are not easy to find anywhere else. Other options to see are a museum with the fossil of the most complete Kronosaurus (located just outside Villa de Leyva), an ostrich farm, caves and an astronomical observatory.
It is a beautiful wetland ecosystem that serves as the main source of freshwater with metals beneath the surface, which was the reason why mining arrived to the region. It is a place to admire and enjoy by doing hiking and even camping for the night to enjoy the nature and the landscape.
NATIONAL PARK EL COCUY
This incredible national park is located in the Andes Mountains and has glaciers, astonishing lakes and mountains that reach 5.000 meters. The flora and fauna are incredible with great variety that have been reasonable cared by the Tunebo Indians, who live there but are against visitors and prefer to live isolated. Get fit in the park by doing hiking and rock climbing while camping. Before planning your trip, keep in mind that the rainy season is from January to March and May to June. The park is accessible from the villages Guican or Cocuy.
The lake was Sacred by the Muisca culture and played a role in the history of the indigenous group. Nowadays, the lake is surrounded by lovely towns and green countryside where the people that live there are mostly farmers that grow potato, green onions and peas. You will find some traditional villages with nice architecture and handicrafts, as well as thermal springs in Iza (don´t miss that out!).
The capital of Boyaca has much to offer when it comes to artwork and historical sites, as well as choices to enjoy great night outs because of the numerous cafes, bars and restaurants that are filled with students from the main university of the region. The bolivar square in downtown is very impressive with a colonial mansion from the 16th century. Take some time to visit museums, galleries and historical places like the Bridge of Boyaca, just 14 kms away from the city. Learn some history about the independence of Colombia by visiting different monuments that commemorates the battle against conquers that gave Colombia back to the citizens.
CHICAMOCHA NATIONAL PARK
The national park of Chicamocha is a must see destination for anyone visiting Colombia, so don´t leave Santander before admiring the amazing views of the canyon (227 km long and a depth of around 2 km). The park´s main attraction is a cable car (6,3 km long) that go all the way down the Canyon. It is considered one of the longest cable cars in the world, lasting around 20 mins each way. It is accessible from the park or from La Mesa de los Santos. While in the park, you have the opportunity to hear the history of the region while taking amazing pictures of huge monuments that represents the popular revolt known as the “Revolución de los Comuneros”. Other places to visit and things to do include the goat and ostrich park, and extreme sports like paragliding, ziplining and buggies.
Paipa is the perfect destination if you are looking for some relaxation and time to spoil yourself. With many centers for mud therapy, hydrotherapy, saunas, steam baths and massages, it is difficult not to disconnect and pamper yourself while enjoying the local gastronomy and the low temperatures. If you want to visit a natural location nearby, the Iguaque National Park is close enough. You can have an overwhelming experience enjoying the flora and fauna of the park.
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