San Gil Travel Guide - Rafting, Hiking, Biking & much more

Where is San Gil?

San Gil is nestled in the Santander department of Colombia. A small Andean city in northern Colombia, San Gil is a haven for the adventurous. San Gil is renowned for its abundance of outdoor activities, lovely scenery, and enjoyable climate. San Gil is also built for those who don’t need an adrenaline rush but still want a taste of northern Colombian life.

san gil colombia
San Gil, Colombia

Best Things to do in San Gil:

  • White Water Rafting
  • Paragliding
  • Bungee Jumping
  • Juan Curi Waterfall
  • Mountain Biking
  • Hiking – El Camino Real
  • Visit Barichara
  • Market
  • Tejo

Here are the best things you can do when in San Gil Colombia. Need more? Contact me for an extensive list

San Gil White Water Rafting

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 Class 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 rapids.

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

San Gil Paragliding

San Gil Paragliding

Paragliding or Parapente, has glided into the list of Colombias must do list. If you’re going to Paraglide in one spot in Colombia, San Gil is your spot. 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 the worlds second largest canyon.

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

San Gil Bungee Jumping

San Gil 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 and 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

Juan Curi waterfall is San Gil’s most popular and scenic waterfall.

Lower Juan Curi Waterfall
Juan Curi Waterfall
Juan Curi Cascade
  • Easy to get to
  • Gorgeous
  • Secluded
  • Refreshing

Getting to Juan Curi waterfall is very easy. Hop on the bus towards Curiti for 5000 COP and inform the driver that you want to be dropped at Juan Curi. (The entrance is right on the main road, so it’s incredibly easy to find). You will be on the bus for about 30 minutes before arriving.

Juan Curi does come with a cost. It is 9000 COP to enter and 20 minutes of light trekking until you arrive at the beautiful waterfall.

Mountain Bike San Gil

Don’t feel like jumping of a bridge, rafting, or any other activity? Grab a mountain bike and hit some of Colombia’s best biking trails. Colombia Bike Junkies run day trips that take you into the Suarez Canyon or the Chicamocha Canyon. Sign up a day early for a guaranteed dose of legit Colombian Mountain Biking

Hike 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

Pescaderito Swimming Holes

The Pescaderito Swimming Holes in Curiti are one of the most relaxing and tranquil experiences to be had in the Santander region. There will probably be crowds but if you continually follow the river upstream you can find some silence and seclusion nestled in lovely boulderous areas.

san gil colombia

San Gil to Barichara

san gil colombia

The Bus from San Gil to Barichara is about 35 minutes away. The city is an absolute must when visiting the Santander region. Hikers will start there El Camino Real trek here, but you should still visit this gorgeous Colombian city if hiking isn’t on your list. Think cobbled streets mixed with Spanish architecture and bustling with an unforgettable atmosphere.

San Gil Markets

Aside from the outdoor activities offered here, San Gil offers a surprisingly extensive market that became one of my favorites in all of Colombia. There are two large buildings that contain the madness but things are orchestrated well. One is primarily food to order and foods, whereas across the street is almost entirely food and various spices.

San Gil Market

Tejo

 Colombia’s 2nd national sport, Tejo is an extremely popular sport in the Santander department. Plan your Tejo night with Macondo Hostel, who organizes Tejo Tuesdays if enough people are signed up.

Tejo, Colombia

Where next?

Because of its central location, San Gil gives you many options of where to venture next.

  • Bogota: 8 hours South
  • Medellín: 8 hour trip West
  • Santa Marta: 12 hours 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

 

Options are abundant in San Gil so getting stuck there is easy. If you are in search of other information, reach out to me for any travel planning or ideas. Until then, hope to see you in Colombia or any other city in the world.

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