It was time to discover another hidden destination in Colombia: Guadalupe and Las Gachas in the department of Santander! We decided to took a night bus from Bogotá – there is actually just two daily busses that go directly to Guadalupe with the bus company Omega! We took the one that left at 22:30 and it took us 7 hours to get there! Luckily Claudia the owner of the hotel Bonanza awaited us and we were able to get a couple of hours more sleep to be ready to explore this beautiful place!
Guadalupe is a beautiful little town – just as in all Colombian villages, it has a nice church in the middle of the village surrounded by a small park and it is a very relaxed quite atmosphere! We had lunch at the restaurant Bonanza which belongs to the hotel – and it was very delicious and also very cheap!
Then we started our small hike to the famous Quebrada Las Gachas! Well, to be honest they are not that famous but have been getting some attention as they appear to be similar to the actual famous colorful river Cano Cristales in La Macarena department of Colombia. The difference is that the Quebrada Las Gachas can be visited all year round as the river gets its red color from the stones that it is overflowding. In Cano Cristales you depend on the rainy season from June to November to see this fascinating wonder of nature. Even though it is also better to visit Las Gachas during rainy season and avoid travelling in March/April as it is very dry and due to that the place is not as colorful.
Actually it is very hot in this region and it was good to rest a bit in the morning and enjoy a delicious lunch before we started walking! It was a nice hike through beautiful countryside and it took us about one hour to get from the little town Guadalupe to Las Gachas! But the burning sun makes the hike a bit more difficult and you should not forget to bring enough water for the walk! Once we got to Las Gachas there were actually just two policemen taking care of the beautiful place and another couple exploring Las Gachas! Of course, after sweating a bit on this 4 kilometer hike, we also got into the little pools! Here it is very important that you bring socks to walk on this slippery ground! It was a bit strange getting into the ‘jacuzzis’ as we didn‘t really know how deep they were but at the end it was funny to take a bath in the little pools and just enjoy the beautiful landscapes. In some of the ‘green jacuzzis’ of the red river (the pools are actually green and the river red when it rains a lot), you can sit and others are much deeper until 3 meters! After this great experience discovering the Santanderian version of Cano Cristales, we walked back to Guadalupe and took a walk around the nice colonial village!
The next day we went for another great hike to explore more of the beautiful nature in the surroundings! And we were very impressed with all of this diverse nature that our guide Jose showed us! He was an excellent guide and very passionate about his hometown and showing us all the beautiful surroundings this destination has to offer! We were hiking through very green landscapes with mountains and all different kind of plants and trees. Another part was going through the jungle passing by beautiful waterfalls and mysterious caves – las cuevas Perico & Indio! Of course, it is must to take a refreshing bath in the different waterfalls! At the end of the hike we were passing different stone formations and forests of different trees!! It was a beautiful hike and it is recommendable to start early in the morning because it is very hot and actually after 5 hours we were happy to be back in town and enjoy a delicious typical lunch!
Then it was time to say goodbye to this beautiful peaceful place – we took a small bus to Oiba which takes about 1 hour offroad! In Oiba we caught the bus back to Bogotá as all busses that operate between Bogotá and Bucaramanga pass by there! From here it took another 6 hours to get back to the capital city! If you plan a longer trip through Colombia, you can easily combine this destination going from Bogotá to San Gil or Barichara or if you want you can head first to Villa de Leyva and then continue your trip going to the department of Santander with its beautiful places like Guadalupe & Las Gachas, the adventurous paradise San Gil and most beautiful colonial town Barichara and then continue visiting the famous Chicamocha Canyon on the way to Bucaramanga!
So for the ones that are on a budget trip or look for a more off the beaten track destination, it is definitely a great (and cheap) option to visit the red river of Las Gachas and easier to combine with other destinations in Colombia than flying to the colorful river Cano Cristales. And the surroundings offer many attractions for nature lovers – besides great hikes, there are also good routes for biking – as always my conclusion after this trip is: Colombia just has it all!!!