San Gil: the Colombian capital of adventure

About seven hours north of Bogota you’ll find the town of San Gil, surrounded by mountains, rivers and colonial towns. I don’t know why, but this part of Colombia gets skipped in a lot of travel itineraries, while there’s so much to do!

Paragliding over teh chicamocha canyon

Living on the edge in San Gil

Crowned as the ‘adventure capital of Colombia’ you can guess what to expect. Whitewater rafting, paragliding, bungee jumping, rappelling down waterfalls, crawling through caves, cliff jumping, it’s all part of the fun around here. So adrenaline junkies out there, this is your place to be! Shall I make your day even better? It’s incredibly cheap as well. $20 dollar bungee jumping or $15 dollar paragliding, it does make you wonder if safety’s first, but hey, I made it out alive! (Might wanna check your travel insurance beforehand…)

Paragliding in San Gil Colombia

streets of San Gil Colombia

Paragliding over the Chicamocha canyon in San Gil Colombia

Crazy local games

San Gil is not only your outdoor thrill seeking mecca, even indoors they know how to spice things up. This is the place where I “learned” (or you could better say “tried”) the local game of Tejo. Tejo involves heavy metal balls, a circle full of clay, lots of beers and gunpowder. Strange combination, but the locals treat it like its part of the Olympics. Basically you try to smash the heavy metal balls into this circle of clay, hoping it will hit the little envelopes of gunpowder which gives you points (and deafness) and makes you drink even more beers. Lots of fun, but unfortunately needless to say, I sucked at it.

Playing Tejo game in San Gil Colombia

Playing Tejo game in San Gil Colombia
A first attempt at Tejo…

The local delicacies

Since San Gil seems to be the place for firsts, I had another once in a lifetime (but never again) experience. Apparently they got some sort of delicacy around here called hormigas culonas. For those who don’t speak Spanish; big-arsed fried ants, literally. My mom always taught me to try first, but I kind of wish I forgot about that wisdom here.

colombian delicacy of fried ants
Definitely big arsed ants… Yum!

Streetlife in the colonial town of Barichara

oldtimer in the streets of Barichara
The beautiful colonial town Barichara

Taking it slow…

For those who aren’t so fond of all these new exciting experiences, San Gil actually has some quite relaxing things in store for you as well. Dipping in one of the many waterfalls and natural pools around or strolling around the beautiful colonial towns like Barichara makes time stand still. No ants for dinner? Gringo Mike’s has some proper Mexican-American style dishes that will fill you up and make you wanna roll back to wherever you’re staying. 

Juan Curi waterfall near San Gil Colombia
Juan Curí Waterfalls

Juan Curi waterfalls view San Gil

San Gil really is a place for everyone and it is so easy to add a few days to your initial plan. The town will surprise you with its people, amazing food, beautiful surroundings and of course its overload of activities. Spice up your life (wise words by the Spice Girls..) or enjoy the tranquility of the rolling hills and old towns that take you back in time, San Gil got it all.


paragliding over the chicamocha canyon
Up in the air, can’t beat that view of the Chicamocha Canyon

paragliding San Gil chicamocha canyon

view of the chicamocha canyon
The Chicamocha Canyon

Daily street life of San Gil Colombia

Rain in the streets of San Gil
When rains hits San Gil, those streets are made for Urban Tray Boarding

Urban tray boarding in the rainy streets of San Gil

Curiti swimming holes near San Gil
Relaxing at el Balneario de Pescaderito, the swimming holes of Curití

Curiti swimming holes near San Gil

Cliff jumping at the Curiti swimming holes
Cliff jumping at El Balneario de Pescaderito
Tejo team in San Gil Colombia
Winning Tejo thanks to the rest of the team
local men in the streets of Curiti
Streetlife in Curití
streets of Barichara colombia
Beautiful Barichara
school kids in the window Barichara
School kids in Barichara
colonial town Barichara
Colonial streets of Barichara

view at Barichara

colonial house in barichara

church at the town square of barichara

oldtimer in the streets of colonial town Barichara

Juan Curi waterfall
Juan Curí Waterfall
Juan Curi waterfall
Waterfall dips at Juan Curí

boys juan curi waterfall san gil

swimming at the juan curi waterfall

juan curi waterfall view on the edge
Living on the edge…

Photos by: M. Barends ©

Privacy Preference Center