Friday, December 30, 2016

Santander: The Camino Real

The Camino Real

The Camino real is a 2-3 day walk from the town of Barichara to Los Santos. It follows a series of roads and old right of ways through farmland before climbing through the Chicamocha Canyon.

Barichara is known for its beautifully preserved colonial architecture and cobblestone streets. The town is popular with tourists so it has many restaurants for tourists, however it's better to find the teijo court, grab a couple of beers and try the local bar snack - Hormigas Culonas  (you can buy packets of them in any shop).

Hormigas Culonas

These deep fried ants taste like peanuts and are a delicious accompaniment to the local beer.
After a few rounds of teijo you can wander the historic streets of Barichara.

Moonrise over Barichara


The streets of Barichara at dusk

Which is also pretty during the day.

The streets of Barichara during the day

The town also has several historic churches dating back to  the 18th Century.

In the main plaza is the Church of the immaculate conception and on the hill overlooking the town is the Chapel of Santa Barbara.

The Church of the Immaculate conception


Inside the church

Santa Barbara Chapel

Inside the chapel

The Camino Real trail can be found to the left of the square in front of the Chapel of Santa Barbara - walk along the road from the square and follow the signs.

Looking down the hill to Barichara

There is a stone marker and a sign that mark the beginning of the Camino Real.

The sign at the start of the trail: it tells the story of Geo van Langueke who restored the trail in the 1800s


The Camino itself is a fairly rough stone track that heads down the hill to the road.Once it crosses the road, it flattens out and travels through farmland.

The Camino

After a few kilometers there is a farmhouse that sells refreshments. They also have a lookout in the form of a large boulder with a white cross.

The Mirador

From this point you can see right across the valley.

The valley looking towards Guane

The Camino Real continues on towards the small colonial town on Guane - the road is well marked so there's little chance of getting lost.

The road into Guane


The main plaza

Guane church

The Camino Real continues from the end of Calle 6 and becomes very steep as it begins to climb up the hill.

The trail up the hill


Looking back to Guane

The trail continues up the hill until it reaches a crossroad - continue straight up the hill.

The valley from the top of the road

The road continues to climb, changing from a good dirt road to a 4wd track as it continues to climb up the hill until you reach a crossroad at the top and can see Villanueva in the distance.

Villanueva

Take the left fork and continue down the hill. The road quickly becomes an overgrown cattle track but eventually leads to a road which leads into Villanueva.

Villanueva from lower on the trail

Villanueva is a small rural centre, lacking the colonial architecture of Guane or Barichara

The main plaza


Villanueva Church

but it is a reasonable place to rest before the next part of the trail to Jordan. The hotel San Miguel on the main road was a good cheap and comfortable hotel to spend a night.

From Villanueva take the road on the left of the church right to the end then turn right until you reach the T-junction and turn left towards the town of Jordan in the Chicamocha Canyon.

Farmland near Villanueva

Continue along the main road which initially climbs up the hill before it rapidly descends towards the canyon.

Chicamocha Canyon

After the descent the road flattens out along a ridge and passes a school. Just after this there is a road to the right that rapidly descends (the main road continues straight). There is a gate across the road which you go through to continue heading towards the canyon. Several signs point you towards the farmhouse. At the farmhouse the farmer will take you to the lookout for $COP1000 ($A0.5).

The canyon from the lookout


Another view of the canyon

From the farmhouse follow the fence line down until you see the track into the canyon.

A cactus on the trail

The river in the canyon

The descent is very steep but finally ends in a road that leads to Jordan.

Looking down the trail


The beginning of the road to Jordan

Entering Jordan

Jordan is a tiny town with a few shops around the main plaza.

Jordan church

The trail up the other side of the canyon starts over the bridge from the main square.

Jordan bridge

Across the bridge is a place where you can grab a decent lunch (it's a house but it has a beer sign attached to the side). From here the trail heads through farmland until it begins a long, steep ascent.

Farmland near Jordan

The trail ascending the canyon

The trail is very steep and exposed, so make sure you carry plenty of water. From the top of the trail there are views back accros the canyon.

Jordan from high on the trail


Looking back accros the canyon

The trail continues to climb steeply until it reaches the town of Los Santos where you can grab a cold beer and a bus back to Bucaramanga.

Los Santos

Detailed directions for the Camino can be found on the Wikitravel page for San Gil.