| Johan van Rijswijck

A beautiful setting for Colombian life

Colombia has touched my heart, the country has infinite things to discover. Visiting Barichara and the Chicamocha Gorge at the beginning of this year, I once again stumbled upon two unique pearls that I would like to share with you here.

A new world in the increasingly famous Colombia

From a rainy Bogotá I leave by car on my way to the province of Santander and leave the largest metropolis of Colombia. As I get further and further away from the city border, the sky opens up and the sun begins to shine over the lush green, mountainous landscape. I am on my way to the historic town of Barichara, with its little streets covered with cobblestones, white plastered houses and orange tiled roofs. A new world in the increasingly famous Colombia.

Barichara and its impressive surroundings are hardly visited anymore. This is special, because the town is often mentioned as one of the most beautiful historic cities in Colombia. By the way, city is a big word, it is more like a village, situated in a fertile valley. Barichara is located about 15 kilometers from the main road that connects the Caribbean coast with the Colombian capital. On the way to Barichara I make a stop in the also historic town of Villa de Leyva. The town was founded in 1572 by Hernán Suarez de Villalobos. The enormous central square Plaza Mayor, with its 14,000 square meters, is the largest square in Colombia.

Where time has a different rhythm

Barichara itself is situated in a green valley, the basin of the Rio Suarez and about 60 kilometers from the breathtakingly beautiful Chicamocha Gorge. In places like this, the clock ticks a different rhythm. My walking turns into strolling, as I move through the narrow streets. When evening falls, there is some activity at the central square. There aren't many restaurants yet. I eat something on the terrace of Al Fogolar, which overlooks the cozy central park. I visit the Fundación San lorenzo, a cooperative of women who make all kinds of products from paper, like lampshades, figurines and trendy bags. The ladies take the time to tell what they do and how the process works. It is almost the most exciting thing to do in Barichara, but that is exactly what attracts me to this place. A beautiful setting in which Colombian life passes you by at a moderate pace.

The Chichamocha Gorge

For some more activity I go just outside the city. So I make a walk to the village of Guane. It's a walk of about 6 kilometers on a path that gradually descends from Barichara to the bank of the Suarez river. The historic path runs over large boulders and was built by an indigenous people before the arrival of the Europeans. Guane is an even smaller variant of Barichara. 

The next day I get in the car and drive to the Chicamocha Gorge. I take a short route over an unpaved path, which takes me through a green and peaceful farmland. A beautiful, but difficult route that is best done alone with a four wheel drive all-terrain vehicle and in dry weather. The Chicamocha Gorge is the basin of the Umpala River, a branch of the Suarez River. The gorge is over 220 km long and 2 km deep, making it larger than the Grand Canyon. It is recommended to make a trip by cable car. This cable car has a length of more than 6 km and transports you at an altitude that varies between 500 and 1,600 meters above sea level. You will be rewarded with the most spectacular views.

Travel through Colombia?

With a visit to the province of Santander you go just a little further from the beaten track. Here you will find places of ultimate beauty, which have barely been discovered. Would you like to make a trip through Colombia yourself including a visit to Barichara and are you curious about the possibilities? Then take a look at the travel itineraries that we have put together for inspiration. You can book these trips directly, but we also like to create a personal programme based on your wishes and ideas.

Do you have a question? Feel free to contact us. Call +31 73 610 62 04 or send an email to We are happy to help.

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