Home > South America > Colombia > Eastern Colombia > San Gil > San Gil Activities > The Camino Real from San Gil to the Río Magdalena
Page Rating
Content Quality:

Page Importance:
Author Pick:
Close Map

Book a Hotel or Hostel

Hotels Hostels & Budget


Check in Date

Check out Date

Number of Rooms

Top Colombia

The Camino Real from San Gil to the Río Magdalena - Trekking San Gil - Colombia

I heard a bit of buzz from a friend in San Gil: Go trekking on the old camino real (highway), or Camino de los Guanes, to the Río Magdalena. I checked it out a bit. Indeed, it appears you can follow the footsteps of the Guane ancestors, who had laid down this path, later used by the Spaniards.

The stone road originally extended from Girón, near Bucaramanga, to Barrancabermeja on the River. In this modern era, the trek begins the journey at Cabrera, from there it is a two-hour walk to Barichara. Barichara to Guane is the most-trodden part of the camino (way) (1.5-2 hours). The trail then continues to Villanueva (3 hours). The toughest part of the trek is through the Chicamocha River Canyon, which has a 1,000-meter (3,280-foot) descent and ascent, in over 35°C (95°F) heat. From Villanueva, the road plunges to the ghost town of Jordán at the base of the canyon (3 hours). After a four-hour climb, you arrive at Mesa de los Santos on the other side of the abyss.

The camino originally winded further, to the Río Magdalena. According to all sources, it is impossible to continue on from Mesa de los Santos. Some say it is because of safety issues, especially with civil war fighting, but others say it is because bridges no longer exist past that point.

San Gil, Colombia


Getting There

Buses leave from San Gil to all the pueblos on the route, except for Jordán.

Travel Tips:

Because of the on-going civil war in the region, be sure to ask about safety in each village before beginning the next leg. A guide is not necessary, though you will have to ask directions frequently. The entire trek will take two-three days. Accommodations and food are available in all the villages.

Price Description:

The road is free; the only costs are transportation, lodging and food.

Relative price: Budget

Travel Skills: intermediate/somewhat difficult.

You Need to Bring:

Pack water and water purification tablets or filter; food; hat, sun screen; and, equipment, if you want to camp.

Barichara and Guane are incredibly beautiful colonial towns; the latter has an interesting museum. Along the way, there are a number of petroglyphs and cave paintings including: Piedra de Lubigara and Cueva del Pino (near Guane); Hato Viejo (Villanueva); La Custodia, Los Pozos and Cueva de Cartagena (Mesa de los Santos); Cueva Rica (Mogotes); and, others along the Río Chicamocha.

Currencies accepted
Colombian Peso

Here are other activities in and around San Gil that may be of interest: Cave Exploration,

By Lorraine Caputo

Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...

30 Mar 2011

Top Places to go in Latin America - as rated by V!VA Members
You must register as an owner for access to these listing tools and benefits.

Notification of new reviews: receive your latest reviews by e-mail

Customized request-a-review link: encourage guests to spread the word about your property

Our owners' newsletter: stay informed about our latest tools and benefits for you

User login

Enter your username and password here in order to log into the website:


Create a new V!VA account

Forgot Password