This post was first published in 2017 but has been updated in 2019 with the most recent information on paragliding San Gil.
If you have ever wanted to experience flying like a bird and try paragliding, San Gil in the Santander region in Colombia is the place to do it!
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San Gil is known as the adventure capital of Colombia, offering a number of activities ranging from rafting to bungee jumping, rappelling, and, of course, paragliding.
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Paragliding in Colombia has been on our bucket list for a few years now and it was actually one of the main reasons why we chose to travel to San Gil in the first place. We couldn’t wait to soar high above the ground, so we checked out a few tour operators in town upon arrival and booked our paragliding adventure for the following day!
We chose to fly with Paravolar Colombia, one of the oldest Paragliding operators in town, who have been flying over San Gil for over 19 years! Their excellent TripAdvisor ratings and knowledgeable office staff made us feel confident about our choice from the get-go…and it only got better from there!
Paravolar Colombia offers two different options for those looking to try San Gil paragliding. For either option for paragliding, the cost was pretty reasonable.
Option 1: Flight over Curiti
A short lower altitude flight over the valley of Curiti suitable for adults as well as kids (over 20kgs). This is a favourite with the locals! Cost: 10 minutes for $20 USD/per person.
Option 2: Flight over the Chicamocha Canyon
Much longer flight over the canyon with the possibility to fly as high as 1,000 meters. Cost: 15-20 minutes for $60 USD per person.
Since we are all about the most dramatic views and breathtaking scenery, we opted for the long and more scenic flight over the Canyon.
The experience was incredible!
After about an hour-long bus ride, we arrived at the take off-site in the Chicamocha Canyon, where Paravolar Colombia’s pilots immediately proceeded to set up the equipment to get us up in the air as quickly as possible. They were quick and focused and within minutes paragliders from Paravolar Colombia and a number of other companies commenced their flights.
The flight order was done by weight, so I (Oksana) was one of the first in the group. I didn’t have enough time to reflect on what was about to happen and to let the full scope of my fear really set in. Within just a few seconds I was strapped in and told to “corre corre corre” (run in Spanish). The wind scooped us up and before I even had a chance to comprehend what was happening, we were up in the sky…
“Jorman is the best pilot we have. He’s been flying since he was 12 years old and is now a paragliding instructor,” proudly explained Yadira, the manager of Paravolar Colombia that morning. “You’ll be in great hands”.
And he really was! We saw other pilots struggle with their takeoffs and landings and most importantly with catching the right winds to gain altitude over the canyon, while Jorman effortlessly lifted us well above everyone else for the most incredible views of the canyon. When it comes to San Gil paragliding, it was the best experience we could hope for.
We floated in the air for what seemed like forever, gently gliding among the birds with grace and tranquillity.
“Muy tranquilo,” I told Jorman, fascinated by how calm and smooth the flight was compared to my expectations. How calm.
“You like adrenaline?” he responded in English conscious of my limited Spanish.
“Si.” I nodded.
Excited by my response, Jorman grabbed the controls of the paraglide and proceeded to spin us around in a 360-degree motion, turning the paraglide into a giant swing. It was one hell of a shot of adrenaline, but I never got tired of the views!
Our landing was incredibly smooth, a practice that Jorman repeated with Max and with every single one of his other clients that day. He really was the best and we were so grateful to have had a chance to fly with him over the Chicamocha Canyon.
Despite some initial fears, paragliding in Colombia turned out to be an amazing experience for both Max and me! And we can now say for certain that it is definitely an activity suitable not just for those with a sense of adventure and a lust for adrenaline, but everyone out there (young and old!).
Is paragliding on your bucket list? Have you heard of other amazing destinations for paragliding around the world? Leave a comment below and let us know where!
Get a better feel for our paragliding experience by watching our video on Paragliding in Chicamocha Canyon below!
Essential Travel Info:
Getting there: The closest airport to San Gil is in Bucaramanga located 2.5 hours away. The alternative is to travel to San Gil by bus. Routes are available from all major Colombian cities and range from 7 hours (from Bogota) to 15 hours (from Cartagena).
Getting around: San Gil is small enough to navigate on foot. Many adventure companies offering paragliding have offices in town either along the malecon (waterfront) or near the town centre.
Where to stay: We stayed in a private room with private bathroom at Bacaregua Hostel located just 5 mins away from the town centre. We loved the hostel’s convenient location, knowledgeable staff, and clean rooms. If you are looking for a fancier option, check out Hotel La Montana San Gil that offers air-conditioned rooms, as well as a pool and spa on site.
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Disclaimer: Big thanks to Paravolar Colombia for hosting us on this amazing adventure. As always, all opinions are our own no matter who is footing the bill for our experiences.