Santander

Santander, a Department of Colombia just north of Boyaca, is most known for its capital city of Bucaramanga, the “City of Parks.” Indeed, Bucaramanga and Santander as a whole are filled with some of the most picturesque and beautiful protected wildlife areas in all of Colombia. It is crossed by the eastern arm of the Andes, and is therefore one of the most mountainous regions in the country, which provides the interested sightseer with rolling hills, snow-capped mountain peaks, jagged cliff faces, and many fine examples of multi-colored geological formations. The climate is usually tempered due to the high elevation, and many foreigners find that the significant climate change from the heat of the day to the cold of night does initially require some time for acclimation, however after a few days it becomes quite pleasurable. Entry to this relatively quiet part of the country’s interior can be accessed either by bus or by the regional airport in Palonegro, and most travelers report the roads to be in good condition with excellent vistas.

The views and preserved park land are not the only attraction for tourists visiting the heartland of Colombia. This region is also famous for its cuisine. Indeed, Santander is well known for embracing some of the most elaborate dishes in the country, and is a must see for anyone on a gastronomical tour of South America. Dishes can range from the hardy mute, a corn soup with untold multitudes of variations of flavorings, to the adventurous pepitoria made from goat intestines and blood, to the absolutely exotic culona ants which are, of course, slow roasted ants thought to bring virility and hold aphrodisiac qualities. Santander is also famous for its sweets, as local bakers are indeed famously skilled for making treats from unusual ingredients, such as celery, lemons, roots, and rice. Pineapples and guavas are also heavily favored in many dishes, lending both consistency and flavor to simple meals. Indeed, discriminating food aficionados will find plenty to satisfy their palate at even the most humble roadside stand, giving Santander its well-deserved title as the most delicious region in Colombia.

Adventure and ecotourism are by far the most popular attractions for visiting travelers, and Santander has plenty to offer. Thanks to the mountainous landscape, rushing rivers are common, and whitewater rafting tours are popular. So too are bungee jumping cites, kayaking, rappelling, hang gliding, and the exploration of hundreds of local caves. Pescaderito is one famous destination for adventure tourists, as is Salto de Mico, a small town which boasts repelling opportunities down a 150-foot high waterfall. Additionally, the Cueva del Indio cave system in San Gil has a famously elaborate and challenging series of caves to explore, some of which can only be accessed by rappelling down sheer cliff faces. Cueva del Indio is also joined by the Caverna del Yeso, another elaborate cave system which also displays an incredible collection of underground features, mudrooms, wells, mineral deposits, and ancient Indian tombs. Indeed, for the adventure tourist who also enjoys the spice of culinary variety, Santander is the perfect destination.

Visitors should not miss:
  • Barichara- Well known as the prettiest town in the country, this charming villa boasts incredible cuisine, stone masons, and old-world architecture.
  • Canon de Chicamocha- Often compared to the Grand Canyon, this enormous rift in the earth can be seen either from below while whitewater rafting, or from above in a four mile long cable car.
  • The Golf courses of Bucharamanga- These greens are some of the finest and most ornate in South America.