Take a hike through history as you embark on your once in a lifetime journey on the cobblestone path of El Camino Real through different Colombian towns and villages surrounded by nature. Allow yourself to be transported back in time as you look at the same landscapes as conquerors and hardships saw in the Suárez Canyon.
High up in the mountains this memorable path will enchant you from the whitewashed, terracotta-tiled houses to the constantly changing scenery. Although this path has been rebuilt, this trail holds historical significance and charm in every crack and cobblestone. Continue reading to learn how to make the trip on foot either for an enjoyable short-day trip or multiple day trip through the Colombian countryside.
History of El Camino Real
El Camino Real dates back several hundred years ago which was originally laid by the local Guane people for trade and everyday living. Later rebuilt by the Spanish conquistadores, it became a daily part of colonial life and its history here. Usually, the colonial peasants walked the path barefoot, not for the lack of shoes but to protect them from the not perfectly paved routes.
Although this name comes from the Spanish, they were not the last to touch the path. The path that you see today was restored by a German engineer to make transit easier with horses and mules. Once a part of a more extensive trail system, today El Camino Real is a historically significant trailhead that takes tourists and locals through the beautiful Colombian countryside.
How to Get to El Camino Real
Starting a six-hour drive away from Bogota in the adventure capital of Colombia, San Gil, you will need transportation to the beginning of the trail. Less than an hour away from starting your meaningful journey down El Camino Real, make sure that you leave the majority of your luggage at your accommodations.
While many choose to keep it to a short hike, start in either town of Barichara or Guane. Your picture-perfect walk will begin from the village of Barichara downhill to Guane for an easy 9km hike. This hike will take you past small farms on your walk over jagged cobbled stones streets lined with whitewashed, terracotta-tiled houses as you weave in and out of small towns.
However, if you really want to walk more than this, this quick day trip can turn into a more extensive 2-day journey to the final city of Los Santos. With the same starting point in Guane or Barichara, the multi day adventure will take you along the path to Villanueva to the small town of Jordán and finally Los Santos.
With many different options here, it really depends how long you want to be hiking. Regardless of your final destination, you will begin your journey along the rim of the Suárez Canyon followed by a cacti and tree filled valley.
While you came for the cobblestone path filled with history, you will be surprised by the miradors (viewpoints) and rewarded at the end of the trek with vast views from the top and the bottom of the canyon.
– La Piedra (Barichara-Guane)
The first and most popular viewpoint can be seen on the first leg of the trip between Barichara and Guane. La Piedra is a huge rock overlooking the canyon which can be found by venturing through a local family’s property. Then following a path to the white cross on the top of the hill for views of the surrounding areas. With a glance at authentic Colombian lifestyle on your way to La Piedra viewpoint make sure you thank the family with a small purchase!
– Mirador del Virgen & Mirador del Valle (Guane- Villanueva)
If you decide to take the long hike, after stocking up on snacks and water in Guane it is time to tackle the uphill climb to Villanueva. With 15 kilometers left on the path to Jordán these two viewpoints will offer you perfect resting stops for lunch or a break. But do not stay for too long as the mid-day heat can get to you, and you will need to get to your accommodations before dark.
– Mirador del Cañon de Chicamocha (Villanueva-Jordán)
Waking up early to embark on the steep decline into the Canyon paired with little shade can be tiring, but this final viewpoint along the long two-day journey will allow you to soak in the views. Relax and look at the canyon that looks like a painting, as if the reds and greens were brushed across the valley.
– Puente Lengerke (Jordán- Los Santos)
Some choose to stay in the ghost town of Jordán, while others will embrace the mid-day heat for the steep 5.5km incline up to Los Santos. Puente Lengerke (the bridge) is the final stop before the end. As one of the first bridges in Colombia, this bridge was created to cross the river, while today it stands for more of a landmark marker for the last portion of El Camino Real.
– Bottom of The Canyon
After your final push from Jordán to Los Santos you made it to the end of El Camino Real. Reward yourself with a private coffee tour, canyon climbing, visiting Parque Chicamocha for an adrenaline rush, or catching a ride back to San Gil to continue your private Colombian adventure.
Where To Stay
While you will be in the middle of the Colombian countryside, the accommodations are not like those found in the big cities. But here the charm is in the scenery, not always the accommodations.
Glamping Hotels in Barichara – Glamping Valley Barichara & Serranía del Viento
For your curated adventure trip through Colombia, these glamping accommodations offer domes and small cabins as a part of eco-tourism. While enjoying sustainable tourism in comfort, relax in a jacuzzi with the paradise of mountains, vistas, rivers, and a magical pueblo (town) in the Colombian countryside.
Hotels in Barichara – Casa Barichara Boutique & Hotel Boutique y Spa Terra Barichara
These luxury hotels let you focus on your surroundings in the authentic quaint town while matching the local whitewashed, terracotta-tiled houses. Where luxury meets the Colombian countryside, these hotels are best places to stay when you are just here for the day trip.
Hotel in Los Santos – Refugio La Roca
After the long hike to Los Santos, reward yourself and your feet with relaxation on the side of the canon at Refugio La Roca. Fall asleep to the tranquil noises of the canyon and wake up with the opportunity to see wildlife paired with an authentic Colombian breakfast after a long journey here.
How To Visit with Kuoda
Although it would be safe to take this cobblestone path alone, it is best to be accompanied by a Kuoda guide that can enrich your custom journey with stories and history. Not to mention, the security you will feel when you trust where you are going and not making a wrong turn.
Experience untouched villages hidden away in the Colombian countryside as a break from the fast-paced travel plans. At Kuoda, we pride ourselves on customized travel plans that will leave you with nothing but to enjoy. Contact us today to discuss how El Camino Real can be organized into your customized Colombian tour.08