With a depth of up to 2000 meters and a length of 227 kilometers, the Chicamocha Canyon is the second largest canyon in the world. The Chicamocha River flows through the canyon. It bridges both the Santander and Boyacá regions and is also known as Panachi. Due to the deep gorges and steep rock walls, the Chicamocha Canyon is a picture to look at. The mountains behind the canyon also make the area impressive. What is there to do in and around the Chicamocha Canyon?
One of the (literal) highlights is paragliding over the canyon. The views from above in the air are more phenomenal than from the ground. An experience to never forget. The easiest way is to arrange this from San Gil or the Chicamocha National Park. Paragliding often only happens in the morning, because the weather conditions are the most favorable. It is therefore wise to record your flight at least one day in advance. There are several providers and everyone flies within the same region. So it doesn’t really matter where you book. The prices are also quite the same: 200,000 pesos/€ 50, for a flight with instructor, good materials, insurance and transport. If you want to take photos, your own camera or telephone can be taken at your own risk. If you want to have photos taken with a Go Pro by the organization, you often pay 20,000 pesos/€ 5 extra for around 15 photos.
Chicamocha National Park
In the middle of the canyon is a national park, Parque Nacional del Chicamocha. However, unlike the name suggests, because it looks more like an amusement park. You will find mega swings, a cable car, ziplines, slides and a swimming paradise. Despite the high amusement park content, the location offers beautiful views over the region. There are also several restaurants and bars in the park. Highly recommended is the cable car that takes you to the other side of the canyon. Across the street are a number of restaurants which is not very special. But the views from your cabin and from the other side of the rim are super beautiful. Where it is sometimes said that the cable car runs within certain time zones, this is not the case. With your entrance ticket you can go back and forth whenever you want. Entry to the park with a cable car ride costs 57,000 pesos/€14.25.
Another highlight is bungee jumping at the canyon. With a height of 140 meters, it is the highest bungee jumping possibility in South America. It is possible to arrange your bungee jump at several places in San Gil. You pay about €40 and the activity can be done in the morning and the afternoon.
How do you get there and back?
It is difficult to find a place to sleep near the canyon. Along the way we came across a few accommodations, but from there you can arrange more difficult activities. It is therefore recommended to stay in Bucaramanga (about 1.5 hours from the canyon) or San Gil (1 hour from the canyon). San Gil is preferred, because the city is quieter and more fun and you can also do other activities from San Gil. What to do in San Gil, you can read here.
You get to Bucaramanga by bus from Santa Marta (10 hours on paper, 12 hours in reality). Bus company Copetran, among others, runs in this region. A very reliable bus company with nice modern buses with a lot of space. You pay approximately €27.50 for the trip.
From Santa Marta you can also go to San Gil, but that is probably only a night bus. You can find accurate bus times on the website of Terminal de Transportes Santa Marta or Redbus. Or you can stop by the terminal to inquire about the options. From Bucaramanga you can easily get to San Gil. There is a bus about every hour. You pay about €5 for a 3-hour journey. From Bogotá you can travel to San Gil and vice versa. You depart from Bogotá from Terminal de Transporte Salitre and several bus companies run on this route such as Brasilia, Copetran or Berlinas. The journey takes about 7 hours and costs about €7.50. It is wise to take the bus from San Gil to Bogotá on time, so that you do not end up in the busy evening rush hour in Bogotá after 5 p.m. on arrival. Otherwise you have to count extra travel time.