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If you’re traveling in Colombia and looking for some excitement, then head to San Gil, the country’s adventure capital. Travelers come from all over to find adrenaline rushes and thrills, as well as to explore the small and charming town of San Gil itself.

San Gil, Colombia
San Gil, Colombia

San Gil is located in the north-central part of Colombia, and its location makes it perfect for adventure sports. It straddles the Fonce River, which flows with quick rapids through the old town. The Suarez River, just to the west of town, is even more swift and exciting.

There are nearby nature parks, canyons perfect for paragliding or hiking, and lots of waterfalls and natural pools. San Gil may be small, but it’s one place you definitely can’t miss while traveling in Colombia.

Adventurous Things to do in San Gil, Colombia

Paragliding

Paragliding in San Gil was one of the most exciting things we did while in San Gil. We had wanted to go paragliding for quite some time and it was actually one of the main reasons we chose to visit San Gil. We booked our experience with a local tour group and ran off the side of a cliff, soaring like birds over the massive canyon below.

Go to San Gil, Colombia to get your adrenaline fix while in South America

There are two different places you can paraglide in San Gil, Colombia: Curiti and Chicamocha Canyon.

The first is a shorter and cheaper flight that offers great views at a lower altitude. We opted for the longer and higher experience at Chicamocha Canyon, where we paraglided for almost 20 minutes. It was one of the most exciting things we did during our whole time in Colombia. As long as you’re not afraid of heights, don’t miss the chance to paraglide in San Gil.

Paragliding over Curiti, San Gil, Colombia

Whitewater Rafting

With two quick flowing rivers right near San Gil, Colombia, there are some great opportunities for whitewater rafting. The Suarez River is the more popular option, since the rapids are more intense, leading to a much wilder adventure for those who love adrenaline.

However, if you’re a weak swimmer or just want something a little more low key, head to the Fonce River instead. You’ll still have a great experience on the water, but the rapids won’t be quite as threatening. 

Go to San Gil, Colombia to get your adrenaline fix while in South America
Rafting in San Gil, Colombia. Photo courtesy of three_of_clubs via Flickr CC

In order to go whitewater rafting in San Gil, you’ll need to book a tour with a local provider. Most tours will include all the gear you need, safety briefings, and lunch to be eaten along the way.

Canyoning

Canyoning is an exciting sport that involves a bit of hiking, swimming, cliff jumping, and climbing over slippery rocks on a river inside a canyon. It’s a strenuous activity and you’ll likely end the day with a few bruises, but it’s worth it!

To go canyoning in San Gil, you’ll gear up and head to any number of natural areas nearby. Your guide will lead you down the trail, through boulders, and along the canyon floor. You’ll likely pass some waterfalls along your way and might even have the chance to abseil down them or jump from the tops into the pools below. 

Rafting in San Gil, Colombia.
Canyoning in San Gil, Colombia. Photo courtesy of Michael Manning via Flickr CC

Waterfalls and Pools

There are a number of beautiful waterfalls near San Gil, and you can visit them by driving there yourself or by going with a guided tour. Some may only be accessible with a guide, which is a good thing because with one you’ll be able to explore different areas that you weren’t aware of. In addition, you’ll be safer with someone who knows the waterfalls well.

Go to San Gil, Colombia to get your adrenaline fix while in South America
Waterfall in San Gil, Colombia. Photo courtesy of Haceme un 14 via Flickr CC

To add a little more adventure to your waterfall visits, you may be able to slide down a few that aren’t vertical drops or jump off the ledges into the deep pools below. (Make sure to always check the depth of the pools before you do this!) If that doesn’t appeal to you, simply relax and have a nice swim in the natural pools under the stunning flumes.

Rappelling

With so many steep canyons, rocky cliffs, and billowing waterfalls nearby, rappelling down them is an awesome adventure activity to do in San Gil, Colombia. With all your gear safely strapping you in, you’ll experience the feeling of being a fly on the wall in an incredible natural setting. You’ll slowly lower yourself down the canyon or waterfall by walking backward down a nearly vertical cliff. Take your time, look around, and enjoy the view!

Go to San Gil, Colombia to get your adrenaline fix while in South America
Rappelling in San Gil, Colombia. Photo courtesy of Christopher Gonzales via Flickr CC

Kayaking

If you like watersports, kayaking is a great activity to do while in San Gil, Colombia. As with the whitewater rafting, the two different rivers offer different levels of rapids for you to navigate.

If you’ve never kayaked on a raging river before, you can take a class before heading out yourself. The class will teach you proper paddling techniques as well as what to do if your boat flips. 

Kayaking is a bit of a different experience from whitewater rafting because you’re in your own vessel instead of with a group. You’ll still have your guide nearby, but you’ll face the whitewater mostly on your own and have the thrill of going into them solo. If you have time, definitely try both whitewater rafting and kayaking.

Hiking and Walking

If you’re not so keen on the fast-paced, heart-pumping activities mentioned above, there are still plenty of opportunities for adventure that are a little more relaxed. Close to San Gil, there are lots of places where you can go hiking or take some long walks.

We walked along El Camino Real, a path that is located just outside San Gil, Colombia. It connects the two picturesque towns of Barichara and Guane. Aside from El Camino Real, there are a number of other places to hike closer to San Gil as well.  

Camino Real trail, Barichara to Guane. San Gil, Colombia
Camino Real trail, Barichara to Guane. San Gil, Colombia
Camino Real trail, Barichara to Guane. San Gil, Colombia

If you’re an adventure junkie, then put San Gil on your bucket list. You’ll have so much fun here that you’ll never feel like there’s enough time, even if you’re staying for a week or more. 

We had an awesome time in San Gil going paragliding, hiking, and white water rafting! It’s definitely a place we would return to for more exciting adventure sports.

Have you ever visited a place that was considered an adventure capital? What’s your favourite adventure sport?

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