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San Gil: The Adventure Capital of Colombia

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About 6 hours by car from Bogotá, nestled in the heart of the Andes, the small town of San Gil is brimming with energy. Set in a valley, it’s the ideal starting point for all thrill-seekers. Rafting, caving, paragliding, mountain biking, canyoning, and trekking will satisfy extreme sports enthusiasts.

The conditions are perfect: San Gil is located in a mountainous area, right next to the stunning Chicamocha Canyon, crossed by the tumultuous Río Fonce, in a region where nature is omnipresent. With its stunning waterfalls, caves, accessible and well-maintained infrastructure, and a welcoming and enthusiastic local population, San Gil has rightfully earned the title of the extreme sports capital.

From the sky to the depths of the earth, here’s a selection of activities to enjoy.

On foot: trekking

The region offers superb trekking opportunities, varying in intensity according to your preferences. You can warm up before diving into the void or paddling through the rapids. Opt for a multi-day trek combining walking, discovering colonial villages, and breathtaking landscapes. Whether you’re an extreme sports enthusiast or not, San Gil is worth a visit. The hiking route between the villages of Guane and Barichara, an ancient Inca trail, is particularly stunning.

On the rapids: rafting and kayaking

San Gil is especially renowned for its rapids. Three rivers will give you your adrenaline fix, regardless of your rafting level:

  • The Río Fonce, which runs through the town, offers a good introduction for novices. An 11-kilometer course rated 2-3, on a scale of 1 to 5, depending on the season.
  • In the heart of the impressive Chicamocha Canyon, the Río Chicamocha offers a 1.5-hour session rated 2-4 depending on the section.
  • Finally, the Río Suarez provides the most beautiful yet most demanding course. The 20-kilometer descent lasts 2 hours and is a pure thrill rated 4-5.

Kayak enthusiasts can enjoy these same courses!

On the waterfalls: canyoning

Heavy rainfall and rugged terrain inevitably create waterfalls. Juan Curi is probably one of the most beautiful in San Gil. Easily accessible, it’s very popular. Many Colombians come to cool off here. But the more daring come for another reason: rappelling down it! Canyoning enthusiasts will love it.

On the slopes: mountain biking

The mountains provide an ideal setting for gliding sports. When there’s no snow, speed enthusiasts can turn to mountain biking! You’ll be surprised at how thrilling this sport can be! Racing down the Chicamocha Canyon on a mountain bike over small rocky paths promises a restless night before and a deep sleep afterward.

In the air: paragliding

Five minutes of preparation, one minute of explanation, and you’re off! Inflate the sail, trust the pilot, and you’re already taking off, quietly, smoothly, seated above the void. What sensations, what a view! After a few minutes in the air, if you’re comfortable, the pilot will treat you to some dizzying maneuvers that will have you almost horizontal.

This introductory flight near San Gil, very affordable, is perfect for novices. The ideal next step is flying over the Chicamocha Canyon. This flight lasts an hour at high altitude: sensations and stunning views guaranteed.

For those who prefer jumping without a parachute, bungee jumping is also available.

In the center of the earth: caving

A perfect illustration of the variety of activities available, you can go from the skies to the earth’s depths in the same day.

Caving is both a sporty and mystical experience. Being plunged into absolute darkness, in almost complete silence, cohabiting with bats, is discovering a new world far from our usual references.

The Cueva de la Vaca, literally the Cow Cave, is probably the most thrilling, with water and beautiful limestone formations.

The ultimate extreme sport? Guinea pig racing!

After all these extreme sports, you’ll likely need a bit of calm. Head to the central square to watch a guinea pig race, known as cuyes in Spanish. It’s a chance to laugh with a crowd of enthusiastic Colombians!

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