Last week I made the decision that I wanted to experience adventure. But not your everyday, stroll to a new neighbourhood and find yourself a hip café kind of adventure. I wanted something thrilling, adrenaline pumping with a slight twist of crazy and part “why the hell am I doing this!?”
So I booked an overnight bus to San Gil, Santander, Colombia with some friends and we were off for the weekend, to the land of adventure as they call it. While my father may not of been too psyched to hear that I would be hopping on a bus at 11:30PM, it was one of the smartest decisions I could of ever made. It was cheap (win), comfy (double win) and got me to my destination safely (ultimate win!)
Now before I continue, you should know that the majority of this weekend was full of spur of the moment ideas and actions. All we planned in advance was the hostel. Everything else was, dare I say it? On a whim!
We arrived to the terminal in Bogotá, booking the last seats on the next bus out and arrived in San Gil around 5AM. Exhausted, cold from the intense AC in the bus and with no idea of our surroundings anymore we decided to head out to the hostel. Why not right? Nothing is open at 5AM anyways.
Our hostel was located just outside the city, so we had to take another bus about 15 minutes out before we were dropped off in the middle of nowhere. We saw the hostel sign and began walking. When we arrived, we were greeted by cows, yes cows. There was about 15 of them standing right in front of the gate. I don’t think I’ve ever been this close to a cow before nor experienced the intense feeling of being ‘watched’ by anything, especially cows. It was strange. But whatever, we dodged the cows and the pies they covered the road with and made our way through the gate.
This hostel was a ‘glamping’ campground, a vegetarian restaurant and overall a hippie retreat. We slept in massive domes made out of waterproof cloth and bamboo logs that had the ceilings tye-dyed to look like the sky. There was an old bus that had been converted into a library and movie room, a hammock area with a bonfire and solar-powered showers. It was called La Pacha Hostel and is rated #1 on TripAdvisor so if you ever find yourself in San Gil or have a desire to unplug from the world, I highly recommend this location.
The owners of the hostel, Justin and his wife, along with their two young kids were absolutely amazing! They were so welcoming, made us breakfast that morning and arranged all our activities for us. They truly made the hostel feel like a home and that at the end of each day we were coming home to family. It was so sweet and refreshing. Very different from the young party atmosphere hostel I experienced in Medellin a few weeks ago.
As for everything else, the jam-packed action activities were incredible. We did torrentismo on the Friday which is essentially hiking a mountain, then repelling down by a rope…backwards…through a waterfall…
Saturday consisted of exploring the city a bit (there is absolutely nothing in San Gil so if you’re not going for the extreme sports, it’s not worth it) and white water rafting. There were many other internationals rafting with us but the coolest person ever was Lee. We met him in Medellin as he was sharing a room with us and I was kicking myself for not getting his contact info because he was a Canadian from out west, travelling solo and doing the craziest things. Safe to say my friends and I were pretty stoked to see him when he walked onto the bus.
Sunday was a more relaxed day as we had a late night of travelling ahead of us. We went out to Barichara, what is said to be the most beautiful colonial city in Colombia and then hit up some caves. With only a life jacket, helmet and the smallest light EVER, we walked 50m underground through caves that Colombians hid in years ago during the Spanish invasion. It was pitch black, filled with bats and exactly where we had our “why the hell are we doing this?!” moment. The most terrifying part was the jump. Deep in the cave there were pools of water, freezing cold water. And you had to jump from 4m up into it if you wanted out of the cave. We couldn’t see a single thing, all we could do was take the advice of the guide and trust that all would be okay. Thankfully all went well and we made it out alive.
Overall, my weekend in San Gil was a success and if you’re an adrenaline junkie, I would highly recommend making a stop there while visiting Colombia! For the video: https://youtu.be/iQBQFDD-tBE