Replete with stunning landscapes, impressive mountains and waterfalls aplenty, Santander is the perfect region for outdoor enthusiasts. With the best adventure sports in Colombia, a beautiful climate, awe-inspiring cultural hotspots and a local cuisine that is considered among the finest in Colombia, Santander should be high up on anyone’s list of places to visit.
Colombia’s adventure sports capital, San Gil, offers stunning opportunities for white-water rafting, abseiling, trekking, caving and paragliding, all at surprisingly low prices. The town itself has the standard, but ever-impressive, colonial main square and mysterious alleyways. There is also a beautiful nature reserve, El Gallineral, right in the heart of the town.
‘Quaint’, ‘enchanting’, ‘charming’ : these words get thrown around a bit too much when talking about Colombia’s colonial towns. Yet Barichara is certainly up there with Villa de Leyva or Santa Fe de Antioquia. The terracotta tones of the buildings and the surrounding landscapes, the abundance of churches and the not-quite-stifling heat all add up to a town that is well worth a visit. And at just 30 minutes from San Gil, there’s no reason not to.
Santander’s capital, ‘Buca’, may seem rather uninspiring at first. The modern skyscrapers which have all but replaced any traces of colonial architecture and the frankly horrendous traffic are likely to put off many travellers. However, with a plethora of green spaces and parks and a fantastic nightlife, Buca is the ideal place to party your guts out before taking in some culture or extreme sports in Santander’s other hotspots.
Paragliding in the Chicamocha Canyon
A short drive from San Gil is a stunning canyon, which offers the opportunity to enjoy some paragliding in truly mind-blowing surroundings. The flights usually last about 30 minutes and the feeling of serenity and tranquillity is enough to inspire even the least adventurous traveller.
One of Santander’s delicacies is hormigas culonas. You’ll find them in most shops or being sold on the side of the motorway. Opinions vary on the taste, but the crunchy ant bottoms initially seem palatable, something akin to salted popcorn, before the slightly sickly aftertaste kicks in. They’re not cheap either, but when in Rome…