We hesitated a lot about visit San Gil or not, since the weather seemed to be really rainy and we were not sure if we could enjoy outdoor activities in the rainy season. I posted my question in a Facebook group of SA travelers, and we got the answer really soon: the weather is great, let’s go! We quickly bought the bus tickets and that was the best decision. As it turned out, the rainy season doesn’t mean it rains all day. It means it can rain for an hour a day and otherwise, it’s warm. So if you are worried about visiting San Gil in the rainy season, go for it, you’ll be fine.
We took a few hours long bus ride from Bogotá to San Gil. (You can read about our time in Bogotá here.) We traveled with Expreso Brasilia but basically you will find all the other companies for a similar price. From the hotel to the bus station we took an Uber, which is illegal in the country but works perfectly.
We arrived to San Gil in the evening, then walked to our hostel. We chose Casona de Don Juan and surprisingly we were the only ones staying there. It was kind of low season (middle of October) so it was calm but every outdoor program was running as usual. We booked two nights but we ended up spending four. It’s a great place to stay, the staff is awesome and helpful, the whole place has a very relaxed atmosphere, it has a kitchen and a backyard patio too.
The town itself has a very chill atmosphere, we really enjoyed spending our days there. In the main square, there are always people hanging out or selling stuff. In the evening they sell grilled meat which smells great! There is a fruit and vegetable market a few streets away from the square. It also has a park/botanical garden which is beautiful, but you have to pay a small amount to enter.
time: it’s up to you
On our first day, we went to Pozo Azul which is a natural pond with little waterfalls. And it’s completely free! We walked but it is also possible to take a bus from the terminalito (it’s a small bus station which serves the surrounding towns). It was nice and relaxed but soon it got cloudy so we left to find lunch.
cost: 35.000 COP per person + transportation
time: 1-1,5 hours + transportation
take: water shoes and light sport clothes
On the second day, we went caving to Cueva de la Vata. It is one of the most interesting caves in the area, as there is water inside. If the water level is high, you even have to swim a little bit.
The cave is in Curiti, a 30 minutes bus ride away from San Gil. It is really easy to get to Curiti from San Gil. We took a buseta from the terminalito for 1800 COP per person. Just tell the driver that you want to get off at Guata-iti Adventures, it’s right before the town. In the office, the guy told us that the water is quite low in the cave because of the lack of rain but we didn’t mind that. We changed and got our helmets then left to explore the cave!
In the cave the first surprises were the bats: as soon as they saw our torch lights, they took off, they were all around us. As we continued our way into the dark, it got pretty calm as we were alone just the 3 of us. We reached the water but it was only around our feet. The temperature was around 25-26 °C. We stopped several times because our guide explained facts about the animals and the cave. We found wonderful stalactites and a small waterfall at the end. As they still didn’t find another entrance of the cave, we had to go back where we started. All in all, it was a great experience, we enjoyed it very much.
Paragliding in Canyon Chicamocha
Cost: 180.000 COP per person
time: 5 hours approximately
take: sunscreen, sunglasses, water, long-sleeve tshirt
When we found out that it is possible to try paragliding in San Gil for an affordable price (let’s face it, you would pay much more in the Alps), we knew we had to try it. We booked the adventure through our hostel. It was easy, we got the tickets and pick-up time. In the morning first they took us to their office to sign some papers, then we headed to the Chicamocha Canyon. The canyon is a special place for paragliding as there are spirals of warm air going up around the hills which take you up. So, surprisingly we landed at the same spot where we took off.
The whole experience was amazing, we each spent 25-30 minutes in the air. The views are breathtaking from above, I was just sitting there and I felt incredibly lucky to be able to see it.
After landing I felt a little bit dizzy but that’s normal, and it went away after a few minutes.
I recommend it 100% it was the best thing we did in San Gil.
There are other outdoor activities, such as rafting and canyoning, but as we are slowly moving to Guatape (where we will be workawayers for the very first time – so exciting), we decided to try all these things when we are there.