San Gil Backpacking – Colombias Outdoor Capital

San Gil Backpacking – Rafting, Hiking & much much more

San Gil. Nestled in the Santander department of Colombia, San Gil is a haven for the adventurous or for those looking to slow their pace. A city renowned for its outdoor activities, the options abundant and the scenery lovely.

Because most people come here for the outdoor offerings, it’s only appropriate that we start with what’s available to you here. Also, a price breakdown of how much these trips will cost. Keep reading for where to start your journey here:


The Rio Suarez is what drew me here and if you want to get your adrenaline fill, start here. Class 4 & 5 rapids combined with some tranquil 2&3s, your day on the river will be more than worthwhile.

  • Pickup: 10 am
  • River Time: 2 hours
  • Transport: 2 hours
  • Cost: 130,000 COP

Not ready to jump in the belly of the beast or the water level is to high? (The latter is common as some of my friends had to wait a week for it to subside). Take a more calm but still eventful raft down the Rio Fonce up to class 3.

  • Cost: 35,000 COP
  • Transport: 30 minutes
  • River time: 1.5 hours


Paragliding or Parapente, has glided into the list of must do while in Colombia. And if you’re going to choose one spot, this is it. Soaring into the sky for up to 30 minutes into the scenic Chicamocha canyon, your decision will be a highlight of your Colombia trip. not only fly longer than any area in Colombia but also inside one of the worlds largest canyons.

  • Pickup: 8am – 10 Am
  • Transport: 45 minutes
  • Flight time: 30 minutes
  • Cost: 180,000 COP

Bungee Jumping

Live life on the edge? Or a square looking to step out of your box? San Gil provides you with 2 heights to unshackle your fears or boost your adrenaline.

Starting at 70 meters & doubling the fun up to 140 meters. Aside from the rapid heart rate increase, the views from the platform in the mountainous setting are more than worthwhile.

  • 70 meters: 70,000 COP ($25)
  • 140 meters: 90,000 COP ($30)

Juan Curi Waterfall

This is a lowkey gem of Colombia. One of my favorite waterfalls & afternoons. Why?

  • Easy to get to
  • Gorgeous
  • Secluded
  • Refreshing

Hop on the bus towards Curiti for 5000 COP and inform the conductor of your destination. (The entrance is right on the main road, so it’s incredibly easy to find). 30 minutes later it will all make sense as of why you came here.

9000 COP to enter and 20 minutes of light trekking until you arrive at the beautiful Cascade (waterfall).

Most folks will only ooh and ahh at the beast in front of them but don’t be that person. After scaling across the stream make a left following a roped trail and follow it until you reach the first waterfall. You will be giddier than a fat kid with cake.

Mountain Biking

Don’t feel like jumping of a bridge or rafting? Or the list of a thousand other adventures? Take the bikes out for the day for a thrilling ride in the Santander mountains. I hate riding uphill too but lucky enough for you, the ride is 95% downhill. Sign up a day early for a guaranteed dose of fun.

The Camino Real

An ancient cobbled path constructed by the indigenous & then later used by the Spaniards in the 1800s for transporting goods throughout the Santander valley, the Camino Real shouldn’t be missed. Most people do the Barichara section to Guane but if you have more flexibility in your schedule I suggest the whole route. 2-3 days. Read more below about the whole trail.

San Gil Backpacking – The Complete Camino Real Trail

Aside from the outdoor activities offered here, San Gil offers a surprisingly lively market that can be compared to one of the better ones I have seen in Colombia .

Where are you headed next?

With San Gils central location, Bogota is only 8 hours south, Medellín 8 hours West & Santa Marta 12 north. Need some more help or ideas to for these cities? Read the older posts below:

Bogota Backpacking: Street Art, Traffic and everything in between

5 Medellín Tours Every Backpacker Can´t Miss

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