Biking and Building Websites in Santander

Journal 7: Notes from my Bike Tour from Bucaramanga, across the Chicamocha Canyon, to San Gil and Barichara Colombia.

The Fly Site Hostel

After a great couple weeks up at the Fly Site Hostel in Bucaramanga, I was ready to head south to San Gil.  The fly site hostel had an especially close group of tenants.  Many of them were earning their paragliding certification, and so were there for an extended time.  This time gave me the opportunity to get to know Ben ( Costello, Boris, and Sam, and really make some great memories up here.  Costello, Boris, Sam – you guys are all crazy as hell.  I hope your respective journeys are going well.  Richi, I want your life!  Hope to see you again on the road south.

The Road through Chicamocha Canyon

The road to San Gil is only about 120km, but cuts across the incredible (and steep) Chicamocha Canyon.  Having heard a number of ominous warnings about the switchback-laden roads, I decided to take the tram across the canyon.  This turned out to be a great decision.  The views from Mesa de Los Santos as well as the ride across the canyon were stunning.

I ended up camping just to the south of Chicamocha National Park.  After getting my gear set up, I fell asleep exhausted before sun had even set.  I was awakened by a group of children that requested that I do there English homework, but ultimately settled for me helping them with it.  Despite my exhaustion, this turned out to be a nice experience.

The next morning I packed up, grabbed a couple cups of coffee and continued up the mountain.  After a challenging morning of long uphills and all too fleeting downhills, I descended upon San Gil.

San Gil has the reputation as the adventure capital of Colombia, but unfortunately, the class 5 rapids that make the Rio Suarez such a popular destination were too dangerous due to the elevated river, and I wasn’t able to enjoy a big part of what makes San Gil so special.


San Gil did open an important door for me.  I met Sam, from Sam’s VIP Hostel, who had recently opened up Sam’s Hotel Mansion and Sam’s Pub, and needed a website for these two businesses. I had never done this from scratch before, but was interested in giving this a try, and needed a way to earn a bit of extra money.  While I still certainly have a lot to learn, I think I did a pretty good job.  Shortly upon finishing the site, he asked if I would build a site for his brother Javier who had recently opened the Tinto Hostel in Barichara, who in turn sent me another referral.  I’m very excited about this newfound ability to build websites, earn some quick cash and establish relationships and trust with these important future clients.

Biking to Barichara

After finalizing things with Sam in San Gil, I set out on an afternoon ride up to Barichara, which featured a difficult 2.5 hr uphill, before flattening out.  It is not hard to see why Barichara was voted Colombia’s most beautiful village.  This region features stunning landscapes around every bend, and Barichara is one of those towns where it is immediately apparent that its citizens take pride in where they live.  Everything seemed freshly painted, clean, and welcoming. I checked into the Tinto Hostel, introduced myself to Javier, and got started on my next site.

Much of my time in Barichara was spent working with Michael finalizing the Business Plan for Last Man Power.  I did meet two fascinating fellow bikers from Canada, Dan and Janie Fedder.  The three of us took a nice hike down to the nearby village of Guane, and that evening, Janie and I went out to a local dance where a live band played Salsa and Merengue until the sun came up.  I did not envy how she must have felt on her bike ride the next morning!

After 10 days in Barichara, it is time once again to grease up the gears, air up the tires, and set sail.  Bogota is going to be unique for me thus far in my trip, as I will be staying for over 2 months.  Thrilled about getting my own apartment and getting to spend more time with the lovely Paola and her friends and family.  More to come soon.

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