Hiking the Camino Real in Colombia : Part One

We have finally found a way to do self-propelled adventure here in Colombia. Sean, the owner of the Macondo Hostel in San Gil where we stayed for 2 nights, helped us to plan a hike.  We are currently doing a 4 day hike, hiking from little town to little town, through the Andes, staying at hostels or hotels.  It has been fantastic.   Very refreshing to be back in control of our own transportation!  What we are hiking is called the Camino Real, and follows the path of an ancient roadway that was built in Pre-Colombian times and rebuilt in 1863.  It is basically a path with inlaid large stones. The route also follows rural roadways for parts as well, and some rough trail.  I was able to download a GPS track of the route from an app called Wikiloc, and that has been indispensable-we would have gotten lost without it. I used an excellent mapping app called OSM And to follow the gps track, and downloaded the contour lines and hillshading add-ons for the app so I could see what the route was like. 

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Screenshot of our hike on OSM And

On Sunday, Nov 8, we took a bus from San Gil to Cabrera in Santander Province.  This was a much longer bus than I expected because Cabrera is very small,and the driver stopped every 5 minutes or so so that he could drop off passengers, pick up his packages, drop off packages for people along the route, allow one passenger to pay his beer tab at a bar en route, etc. It took 2 hours to go 20 km. A very different experience from our previous bus trips in Colombia, which were relatively comfortable and if not super fast not slow either.  The trip did help us to understand what it was like living in this remote area without a vehicle.  The bus was very important.  So after 2 hours we arrived at the tiny town of Cabrera and started hiking up the mountain.

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Can you spot the snake in this picture?  It was very small

After a steep uphill the trail descends to the pretty town of Barichara –some say it is the prettiest town in Colombia.

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We stayed at the Color de Hormiga hostel,which was quiet and lovely. 

The next day we went to a beautiful sculpture garden in Barichara and then continued on the trail to the small town of Guane.

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After Guane and lovely nap in the main park (the kids say I was snoring) we continued on to Villanueva.

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After getting lost on top of a mountain and bushwacking a bit to get back to the trail our destination of Villanueva came into view and we walked into town.

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Villanueva is refreshingly off the typical tourist path, so we stayed at a clean, quiet and cheap Hotel called Hotel Miguel. We ate dinner at a cafe next door where the kind woman who ran the place made us special vegetarian plates and we all came away happy and fed.

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2 thoughts on “Hiking the Camino Real in Colombia : Part One

    1. Yeah, we were super excited to find this! We didn’t see any other foreigners during our hike, just goatherders and farmers and one other Colombian walker

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