The area around San Gil is a great one to explore and one place not to miss is Barichara. In fact, many make the stop in San Gil for that reason alone. This incredibly preserved colonial town is a 300 year old time capsule that is particularly romantic to stroll about and it's no wonder it was declared a national monument in 1978. A scenic 45 minute 3500 COP ($1.75) mini bus trip from San Gil whisks you to this historic charmer.
Please enjoy my Barichara page for more details.
Barichara is a charming colonial town with whitewashed houses and stone paved streets. The stone used on the streets is a brown stone found locally in Santander. Barichara was founded in 1705 and in 1978 it was declared a national monument. Since then the town has been carefully restored with a good result, and new modern buildings are not allowed to be built. Barichara is situated at an altitude of 1340 metres and the average temperature is 22° C, so it has got a pleasant climate.
The Guane Indians were the original inhabitants in this area and their word Barachalá (from which Barichara comes) means “a good place for a rest”. That is absolutely true today. Barichara is a very tranquil little town situated 20 km northwest of San Gil. I visited on a daytrip in the middle of the week and it was very quiet. I walked around the streets, visited the town’s four churches and a museum, had lunch at a restaurant and ate an ice cream at the central square.
I had been recommended to take the track to the nice village Guane from Barichara. It is an old Spanish trail which has been declared a national monument. Since than the path has been restored and laid with stones so it is easy to walk and it takes about one and a half hour. There are beautiful views along the walk. Well, I didn’t feel I had the time, but if I ever come to Barichara again I would do the walk.
Together with a Swedish guy from the hostel I visited Cueva del Indio in the small town Paramo. As we came to the bus station in central San Gil we asked when the next bus to Paramo was leaving, and we got the answer 10.15. We went to the market to buy a fruit salad, but came back to eat it at the bus station. That was lucky because at 10.00 we were told that the bus was leaving now.
The bus ride to Paramo took half an hour and the ticket was 3000 pesos (July 2008). In Paramo the bus stopped at the main plaza and from there the agency we were going to was situated one block up the road.
At the agency we waited half an hour for more people who were coming, but they didn’t arrive so together with a guide we went to the cave. We went with a zip line down to the cave opening. It was a beautiful place with view towards a small waterfall.
In the cave we had water up to our knees at some places, sometimes we had to bend down and at other places the ceiling was high enough to walk straight. At one point we were crawling on our stomachs. There were bats in the cave and we sat down in a room were we turned of our head lamps (first I saw there was full of bats in the ceiling). There the guide talked about the bats and stalactites and stalagmites, but as it was in Spanish I only understood part of it.
Normally the tour ends with a jump down in a pool of water, but as there was too much water we had to go back the same way we came. Before turning around we could here the sound of a running stream in an open cave and we could also see a small waterfall.
The tour took about two hours. We had booked it through Macondo Guest House in San Gil, and that’s also were we paid. To visit the cave was 25 000 pesos (July 2008). I wore waterproof sandals and a t-shirt and trousers, which I had to wash after the visit.
After visiting Cueva del Indios I wanted to visit another of the caves around San Gil, but unfortunately I didn’t have time for that. If you go earlier in the morning you can do two caves in a day though.