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San Gil

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San Gil, Santander
9 Hours from Medellin
571.5 km (355miles)


Average 19.2c (66.6f)

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Adventure Capital of Colombia due to its many outdoor activities

San Gil is a charming and picturesque town located in the department of Santander, Colombia. It is considered the adventure capital of Colombia due to its many outdoor activities. The town’s history, culture, and stunning natural beauty make it an ideal destination for travelers looking for an authentic Colombian experience.
San Gil is a destination known for its natural beauty and variety of outdoor activities. Visitors can try whitewater rafting in the Rio Fonce and Rio Suarez, ranging from easy to challenging rapids. Another popular activity is canyoning, which involves hiking, climbing, and rappelling down waterfalls in places like Las Lajas Canyon.
Paragliding offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and hills. Thrill-seekers can try bungee jumping off a 70-meter-high bridge over the Rio Fonce. Mountain biking and hiking are also popular activities, with trails of varying difficulty levels available. Finally, San Gil offers several spots for rock climbing with equipment rental options and guides available for all experience levels.
For nature lovers there is the nearby Chicamocha National Park, which is home to the Chicamocha Canyon. The canyon is deeper than the Grand Canyon in the United States. Visitors can hike along the canyon rim, taking in stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

History of San Gil

San Gil has a rich and fascinating history that dates back to over three centuries ago. The town was founded in 1689 by Spanish conquistadors who were searching for gold and other precious metals. San Gil’s name comes from the patron saint of the city, San Gil Abad, who is still celebrated every year on August 1st with parades, concerts, and cultural events. During the colonial period, San Gil was an important commercial center for the region, thanks to its location on the banks of the Fonce River. The town served as a hub for trade between the interior of Colombia and the coast, and many wealthy families built impressive mansions and public buildings in the town.
San Gil played an important role in the struggle for independence from Spain in the early 19th century. In 1811, the town’s residents rose up against the Spanish colonial authorities and declared their support for the independence movement. The town was briefly occupied by Spanish forces in 1815, but the patriots eventually regained control of the town and held it until the end of the war in 1824.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, San Gil experienced a period of economic and cultural growth. The town’s coffee plantations and textile factories became major employers in the region, and new public buildings such as the Catedral de Santa Cruz and the Teatro Municipal were built.
San Gil continued to grow and modernize in the 20th century, with the construction of new roads and infrastructure connecting the town to the rest of Colombia. The town’s location in the midst of the stunning natural beauty of the Chicamocha Canyon and other nearby areas made it an increasingly popular destination for tourists seeking outdoor activities such as white-water rafting, paragliding, and hiking.

Things To Do in San Gil

San Gil is known for its stunning natural beauty and numerous opportunities for outdoor activities. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie looking for an extreme adventure or just someone who enjoys being surrounded by nature, there’s something for everyone in San Gil. Let’s explore some of the outdoor activities you can do in and around San Gil, including extreme sports.

Whitewater Rafting

One of the most popular activities in San Gil is whitewater rafting. The town is located near two major rivers: the Rio Fonce and the Rio Suarez. Both rivers offer different levels of difficulty for rafting, ranging from Class I to Class V. If you’re new to rafting, you can start with the easier rapids and work your way up. However, if you’re an experienced rafter, you can challenge yourself with the more difficult rapids. Either way, you’ll be surrounded by stunning scenery as you navigate the rapids.


Canyoning, also known as canyoneering, is a unique activity that combines hiking, climbing, and rappelling. In San Gil, there are several canyons that offer opportunities for canyoning. One of the most popular canyons is Las Lajas Canyon, where you’ll climb and rappel down waterfalls, swim through pools of water, and explore the caves. This activity requires a certain level of fitness and agility, as well as a sense of adventure.


For those who want to soar above the mountains, paragliding is an exhilarating activity to try. San Gil has several paragliding companies that offer tandem flights with experienced pilots. You’ll launch from the top of a mountain and glide through the air, taking in breathtaking views of the landscape below. This is a great activity for those who want to experience the thrill of flying without the need for previous experience or training.

Bungee Jumping

If you’re a thrill-seeker, bungee jumping may be the activity for you. San Gil has a bungee jumping company that operates from a 70-meter-high bridge over the Rio Fonce. The jump itself lasts only a few seconds, but the adrenaline rush will stay with you for much longer. This activity requires a certain level of courage, as well as good physical health.

Mountain Biking & Hiking

San Gil is surrounded by mountains and hills, making it an ideal location for mountain biking. There are several trails of varying difficulty levels, ranging from easy dirt roads to challenging single tracks. You can rent a bike in town or join a guided tour with a local company. This activity requires some level of fitness and endurance and bike handling skills.
For those who prefer a more relaxed pace, hiking is a great way to explore the natural beauty of San Gil and its surroundings. There are several trails in the area, ranging from short and easy hikes to multi-day treks.

Rock Climbing

San Gil has several spots for rock climbing. Regardless of your level of experience, there are many options available for rock climbing in San Gil. Most of the climbing areas have equipment rental options, as well as guides and instructors available for those who are new to the sport. So, whether you’re a seasoned climber or just starting out, San Gil is a great destination for rock climbing enthusiasts.

Restaurants & Drinks

San Gil is known for its natural beauty and outdoor activities but also its diverse food and drink scene. If you are looking for a place to explore the local cuisine, there are plenty of dining options in San Gil.
Just like most other typical Colombian pueblos you can find some of the best food in San Gil is in the central square, which is the heart of the town. You can try traditional Colombian dishes like bandeja paisa and ajiaco, which are filling meals that are sure to satisfy your appetite. Additionally, you can enjoy your typical international cuisine like pizza and pasta that will remind you of home.
If you’re in the mood for a snack, head to one of the many street vendors that line the streets of San Gil. You can find a variety of traditional Colombian snacks like empanadas, arepas, and churros that are delicious and affordable. The empanadas, in particular, are a must-try – they’re made with a crispy cornmeal dough and filled with your choice of meat, cheese, or vegetables.
In San Gil, you’ll also find plenty of cafes serving delicious Colombian coffee and pastries. The coffee in this region is known for its high quality and rich flavor, and it’s a must-try for any coffee lover. You can also find cafes that offer live music performances or other entertainment.

Where to Stay / Accomodations

San Gil is a town that attracts many tourists with its natural beauty and exciting outdoor activities. The town offers a variety of accommodation options for visitors, ranging from budget-friendly hostels to hotels that offer more comfort. Here’s a look at the different types of accommodations available in San Gil.


For those looking for more luxurious options, San Gil has a range of hotels and resorts. These accommodations offer a high level of comfort and amenities, including swimming pools, spa facilities, and restaurants. They are usually located on the outskirts of town or in nearby villages, providing a quieter atmosphere and more privacy.


Hostels are a popular choice for backpackers and budget-conscious travelers. They offer affordable and comfortable accommodation and are a great way to meet other travelers. San Gil has plenty of hostels, and you’ll find options with both private and shared rooms. Many hostels offer amenities such as communal kitchens, laundry facilities, and social spaces, making them a great option for long-term stays.

Vacation Rentals

Guesthouses and bed and breakfasts are also popular in San Gil. These types of accommodations offer a more personal touch, with hosts who are often happy to provide recommendations and insider tips on what to see and do in the area. These options are usually located in residential areas and offer a more homely atmosphere.

Cabins & Glamping

Finally, if you’re looking for a unique experience, San Gil has a range of eco-friendly accommodations. These accommodations offer a chance to stay in nature, with options such as cabins, glamping tents, and treehouses. Many of these options are located in the surrounding mountains, providing stunning views of the town and its surroundings.

How To Get There

San Gil, located in the Colombian department of Santander, is known as the adventure capital of Colombia. It is a popular destination for travelers seeking outdoor activities. If you are visiting Colombia, San Gil is a must-see destination, and the easiest way to get there is from Medellin. Here’s how to travel to San Gil from Medellin:
Air: The most comfortable and quickest way to get from Medellin to San Gil is by air. There are daily direct flights from Medellin’s Olaya Herrera Airport to Palonegro International Airport in Bucaramanga, which is the nearest airport to San Gil. From Bucaramanga, you can take a bus or a taxi to San Gil. The flight from Medellin to Bucaramanga takes around 1 hour, and the taxi or bus ride from Bucaramanga to San Gil takes around 2 to 3 hours.

Bus: Another option to travel to San Gil from Medellin is by bus. The journey takes around 10 to 12 hours, depending on the traffic and road conditions. The bus ride is affordable, but it can be uncomfortable, especially for those who are not used to long journeys. You can take a bus from the Terminal del Norte in Medellin, which is the main bus terminal, to San Gil.

Driving: If you prefer to drive, you can rent a car in Medellin and drive to San Gil. The journey takes around 10 to 12 hours, depending on the route you take and the traffic. The most common route is via Bucaramanga, which is the shortest and quickest route. The road is in good condition, and the scenery is beautiful, but it can be challenging for those who are not used to driving on mountain roads. It is also recommended to have a GPS or a map to navigate the roads.