Thursday, December 29, 2016

Santander: San Gil - The adventure capital

San Gil

San Gil is around 2 hours by bus from Bucaramanga situated on the Fonce River.

Iguana by the River Fonce

The town itself is quite small with a small main square with colonial architecture.

San Gil church in the main plaza

Overlooking the town is the Cerro de La Cruz, from which you can get panoramic views of the town.

The cross on the top of Cerro de la cruz

San Gil town
The river and the surrounding hills are well known for adventure sports such as paragliding, bungee and kayaking. 

For kayaking,  the river has some good class 2 and class 3 rapids and when I went there had been a good, solid rain so the rapids were especially large.

A calmer part of the River Fonce

I ended up spending a lot of time under water, mainly because I hadn't done whitewater kayaking in many years and it took a while for all the techniques to come back - however the class 2 rapids were quite manageable (the class 3's were where I ran into trouble). There are also class 4 rapids for those who are experienced - I took a pass on those.

Nearby to San Gil is the small town of Páramo which is known for its small cave system which can be explored with a guide for $COP30,000 (around $A15).

The cave entrance

The river at the cave exit

The cave has several narrow passageways and large caverns full of bats.

Narrow passageway

Bats in the cave

Páramo Is also well known for its historic church and the grotto of the Páramo Virgen de Salud - a small grotto whose waters are said to have health-giving properties.

Páramo church

Santuario de la virgen de la salud

Also near to San Gil is the Juan Curí waterfall. Easily reachable by bus, you need to ask the driver to drop you at the entrance to the falls.

The trail to the waterfall is relatively short and easy.

The trail

However there are many river crossings, so waterproof or reef shoes are essential.

A river crossing

There are several swimming holes under the falls as well.

Swimming pool beneath the falls

As well as many trails giving varying views of the falls.

The falls

The falls and the pool

The River beneath the falls

There are also several trails alongside the river where there are other smaller waterfalls.

Another waterfall on the trail


A small waterfall

The river along the trail

And views of the river and some of its inhabitants.

The river

Butterflies on the trail

A frog

The trail continues down the opposite side river until it reaches the road back to San Gil where you can hail a bus back to the town.

Looking back to the falls from the road