Colombia has a number of major cities such as Bogota, Medellin, Cartagena, Santa Marta, Cali and Barranquilla. In recent years these cities have been thriving, gaining in popularity and becoming much more established. These cities are all unique and worth visiting but where Colombia really gets amazing is when you venture outside of the cities, to the small towns and local villages which allow you to discover how the countryside is still largely undeveloped and steeped in history.
One of most beautiful towns I visited on my trip to Colombia was Barichara. Barichara is located 200 miles north of Bogota and is famous for its cobbled streets, picturesque scenery and Spanish colonial buildings. Everything about Barichara screams Hollywood film set; perfectly white painted buildings, shops with shutters on the doors and windows to close off everything from the real world. Even the road between Bogota and Barichara is incredible it follows the mountains around, wiggling and curving with incredible views of the landscape at every corner.
Whilst Barichara itself is only home to a handful of quaint hostels, hotels, restaurants and stores, its definitely worth paying that little extra and staying in the town. I found a small hostel called La Loma Hotel and it was amazing- the staff were friendly and helpful and couldn’t have done more for us,they booked tours and gave us advice on places to eat and visit. The La Loma Hotel is located on the side of the town, around a 10 minute walk from the town centre which meant the rooms were bigger and the hotel area was more spacious.
Barichara has a number of beautiful churches, one in the town square and another at the top of the hill looking down on the town. It’s definitely worth walking up to the hilltop one and visiting the park next door which has an amazing view of the countryside as well as Barichara itself. The town square has restaurants, with outside tables and bars, but by far the best restaurant in Barichara is 7 Tigres, a pizza restaurant located on one of the main streets. Here I ate one of the best pizzas I have ever had. It’s a family run pizzeria and everything is completely fresh (I watched them make the pizza sauce from scratch). This is a must visit restaurant for any trip to Barichara.
Around 15 miles from Barichara is a slightly larger town called San Gil, it’s not as picturesque as Barichara but it’s been named the adventure capital of Colombia. San Gil has every adventurous activity you can imagine; every level of white water rafting, climbing, bouldering, bungee jumping, parasailing, quad bike adventure tours, zip wires and some of the biggest and deepest caves in Colombia, a must visit for adventure enthusiasts.
The Parque Nacional del Chicamocha is a National Park at the top of the Chicamocha Canyon, around 40 miles from Barichara with incredible views. There is a gondola which goes down to the bottom of the canyon and up the the other side of the mountain to another National Park. There are also lots of different activities available including paragliding, zipwires, huge swings, go karts, a petting zoo and a pendulum jump. The roads leading up to the Chicamocha Park are incredible, twisting and turning with the mountains and there are breathtaking views around each corner, definitely something I won’t forget anytime soon.
Barichara is a must visit town for any trip to Colombia, it truly is an amazing places, one that you won’t believe exists until you visit it.