Visiting Boyaca & Santander
Boyaca and Santander are ideal areas in Colombia for travellers who enjoy adventure sports, mountainous terrain and tranquil colonial towns. Villa de Leyva is one of those colonial towns in Boyaca travellers should visit for at least one night because of its simple charm and sprawling landscapes. While Villa de Leyva offers a calm environment, San Gil in Santander caters to adrenaline junkies looking to go paragliding, rock climbing, white-water rafting and more. Be sure hike the historic Camino Real while visiting picturesque Barichara in Santander.
Top Things to Do in Boyaca
Villa de Leyva – Located about 3 hours by car from Bogota, Villa de Leyva is a Spanish colonial town surrounded by stunning hills and terrain. The whitewashed buildings overlooking the main square boast balconies spilling with bright flowers. Wander the colonial streets, go horseback riding outside the city or visit the Terracotta House, an impressive architectural gem made from terracotta.
Raquira – This picturesque town has always been a place where artisans produce pieces of pottery and wool. Its name means "city of pots" in the Native American Chibcha language. The houses, streets and central square are splashed with colour and adorned with an infinite variety of clay pieces. Spend an afternoon appreciating the exquisite handicrafts in this little town.
Paipa – A spa town built near Lake Sochagota, Paipa allows visitors to enjoy hot springs, aquatic sports and charming hotels. Visit one of the most important Colombian monuments, the Vargas Swamp Battle memorial, about 5 km outside of Paipa. It commemorates one of the most decisive battles for Colombia's independence, fought on July 25th 1819.
Pueblito Boyacence – The town of Duitama is famous for its local neighbourhood called "Pueblito Boyacence" (little Boyaca village). This neighbourhood was built to represent seven of the most beautiful towns of the Boyaca Department: Villa de Leyva, Tibasosa, Tenza, El Cocuy, Sachica, Monguí and Raquira. When short on time, visit Pueblito Boyacence to get an understanding of this Colombian region in one afternoon.
Top Things to Do in Santander
Barichara – Deemed the “prettiest town in Colombia,” Barichara is located about 2.5 hours outside the Santanderian city of Bucaramanga. It offers a unique charming, colonial, and romantic atmosphere – complete with cobblestone streets and historic churches. Visit local artisan shops and try regional specialty hormigas culonas, giant edible ants.
San Gil – Visitors looking for adventure sports should visit San Gil, located about 25 km from Barichara. Popular things to do in San Gil include parasailing, white-water rafting, hiking to the Curití Waterfall and riding rented bikes. San Gil isn’t a small town, but still conserves a colonial town atmosphere.
Camino Real – Hike the 10 km trail that connects Barichara and Guane. The path is mostly downhill, perfect for novice hikers. Enjoy sprawling green farmland and mountain views while walking along Camino Real. Hikers can take cheap public buses back to Barichara instead of walking back to the starting point in Barichara.
Parque Nacional Chicamocha – Established in 2006, this national park is home to the Chicamocha River, which flows through the majestic Chicamocha Canyon. Take in the incredible panoramic beauty of this natural wonder by riding a cable car or zip-lining across the canyon. Visitors can also enjoy views from a giant swing or by riding in a dune buggy.
Boyaca & Santander Travel Information
The Festival of Lights takes place around the first weekend of December in Villa de Leyva. Residents decorate their balconies, houses and businesses with lights and candles to celebrate the Immaculate Conception. Fireworks, concerts and activities for kids can be expected during this festive time. Villa de Leyva also hosts the Wind and Kite Festival in August, where people compete in various kite-flying competitions.
Santander is known for its corn patties made with corn meal, cassava and pork. These arepas are grilled and eaten for breakfast or as a snack. Hormigas Culonas are big ants that are popular in the departments of Santander and North Santander. These insects have been cultivated and eaten since pre-Columbian times.
The average yearly temperature in Boyaca is about 15 °C or 59°F. Visitors should expect rain and pack jackets, a rain coat and umbrella. April, May, October and November are the months with the most rain. The average yearly temperature in Santander is about 21°C or 70°F. The driest months are December through March.
Visitors can fly from Bogota to Bucaramanga, the capital of the Santander Department. From there, visitors can take public buses or private cars to get to San Gil, Barichara and other destinations located in Santander. To get to Boyaca, visitors can take public buses or a private car from Bogota. Keep in mind the roads that connect Bogota and Boyaca and very curvy because of the mountains.
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