Out in the East Country – San Gil, Colombia


RouteMompox, Colombia – San Gil, Colombia (45,45A)
Travel Time9 hours
Road ConditionsGravel, great tarmac & ok tarmac, trucks on mountain
WeatherHot, overcast
TerrainFlat river plains to mountainous
Food and PetrolEl Banco, Bucaramanga
Accommodation“Hostel”, San Gil


Road out of mompos is mostly gravel but well compressed in comparison to the way in from Magangue, until you join the main road at El Burro.


There the Via Del Sol highway takes you south on good fast tarmac, through huge palm plantations, all the way to Bucaramanga.


You can avoid going through the city by taking the roundabout turnoff to Giron and this rejoins the higway other side of Bucaramanga at Floridablanca. (ATM at the petrol station for those who need is, as we did! But don’t be surprised about an “error transmission”)


From there the road heads into steep curves up the mountains until San Gil. Plenty of truck traffic will slow you down and increase the danger factor severely. Patience advised!!! Some splendid views in the day time though and lots of fresh fruit for sale on the road sides.


San Gil is something of an adventure sports hot spot in Colombia but rafting and paragliding is not what we’ve come for.


Hostel (just named Hostel), which is on one of the steep uphill roads (Calle 12 I think) adjacent the main plaza, offers a clean double (TV/shared bath/kitchen) for 30000COP and bike parking in the lobby.


The only difficulty is getting there, because the road from the plaza is a one way downhill, so you have to go a few blocks past the main plaza, then up the steep hill to where the cobblestone street leads you back towards the hostel. Entry to the hostel is via the downhill road that leads to the plaza, and looking down it is something like standing on an olympic ski-jumping slope. From there you have to navigate up on to the pavement and a step into the house. Scary stuff 😀


There are various good food options around including some pretty posh ones, such as the Australian pub selling home brewed beer on tap (at appropriate price of course)! But we get good charcoal grilled pollo asado two blocks east of the main square for 2000COP including the fries. There’s some good supermarkets, and great fruit/veg available at the mercado just south of the square too if you want to self cater in your hostel.


Our evening wind-down with a beer at the beautiful plaza is very nice. Some impressive trees and a beautiful square, people coming out to sit and enjoy the evening. Some guys try to sell us into a tour they will supposedly be doing with a number of Australians on motorbikes, who are staying in a nearby hostel. – We decide to do our own thing.


The following day trip out to waterfall Juan Curi is spectacular! Entry 3000COP each, it’s about 8Km drive to get there if I recall correctly, and the farm is beautiful with plenty of animals including peacocks, dwarfy chickens, and some wooden furniture like no other I’ve seen.


The journey (on foot) up to the waterfall takes about 20 minutes, it’s not very difficult. It’s gorgeous up there! Over 100m high, there is a 3 metre deep pool at the base you can swim in, and a track that you can follow further up to the higher cascades as well.


They are worth the extra energy spent walking up as they are also beautiful, but it takes a bit of bouldering to get anywhere near them because there is no simple access route.


(At times, you can absail down from this upper level to the pool at the first waterfall – for a fee.)


After our waterfall visit we move to Barricharra, which is another small colonial town, very pretty looking and undergoing much restoration. Not much to do here but the town is quaint and there are some nice old red-rock churches and other architecture, as well as an artistic park and sculptures worth seeing. A number of smart looking butique hotels are very enticing, but they look very expensive.


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