So you’re looking for a vacation or travel destination where you can take part in extreme sports? Where you can have an adventure? Even though you might not have initially contemplated Colombia as an adventure travel destination, let me tell you—there are loads of adventures waiting to be had here, especially those involving extreme sports! To show you what I am talking about, I am going to describe some of the most popular extreme sports in Colombia and where you can participate in them. Get ready!
On the Caribbean Coast, you can participate in several extreme water sports including: snorkelling, scuba diving, surfing, wind surfing and parasurfing. For snorkelling and scuba diving, you’ll want to head to places like Taganga (about an hour north of Santa Marta), the Islas del Rosario (an island archipelago an hour boat ride from Cartagena), or San Andres (a Colombian island department best reached by plane). All of these places offer you the chance to see unique reef communities in crystal clear water. And, if you don’t have snorkelling or scuba gear, or don’t know how to snorkel or scuba dive, no worries—most of the aforementioned places have gear for rent and even offer certification courses for scuba diving. Even so, make sure to confirm before you go.
As far as surfing, wind surfing, and parasurfing goes, a spot growing in popularity is the small city of Puerto Colombia that lies about 20 minutes outside Barranquilla. To wind surf or parasurf, you’ll most likely need to bring your own gear, or ask around in Puerto Colombia for instructors who may rent gear out. For surfing, you can rent boards at several places along the beaches, and you can also find instructors rather easily.
If water sports aren’t your cup of tea, you can head to the department of Santander, sometimes called the adventure capital of Colombia. In Santander, you’ll find a range of places where you can participate in activities such as paragliding, hang gliding, white water rafting, kayaking, and hiking. All of these activities will most likely need to be done through an agency or national park authority that can pair you with knowledgeable guides and instructors. You can organize these previous to arriving, or ask around once you’ve arrived. In the capital city, Bucaramanga, you’ll find a good number of sports agencies that offer extreme sport packages. Chicamocha National Park, about 1.5 hours outside Bucaramanga, also offers white water rafting and paragliding packages around and within the amazing Chicamocha Canyon.
If you are really into hiking and are looking for a true adventure, you should think about embarking on a hike to la Ciudad Perdida (the Lost City) in Tayrona Park or to the Nevado del Ruiz (a high elevation crater) in the department of Caldas. For both of these hikes, you’ll need to hire a guide and you may be put on a group hike. The main difference between these two hikes would be the environment and temperature. The hike to Ciudad Perdida will be a hot and humid hike, as you’ll be traversing tropical forest, and you’ll likely encounter a variety of plants and wildlife along the way. To reach Ciudad Perdida, you’ll probably hike for 4-5 days, so you’ll need to keep that in mind when planning.
The Nevado del Ruiz, on the other hand, is surrounded by snow and often experiences harsh cold weather. In hiking there, you’ll see unique plant life, but wildlife may be hard to come by due to the harsh conditions of the area. You can hike up to a “sightseeing” point in a day, and there is no previous preparation necessary for this hike. However, to hike to the actual Nevado del Ruiz, you’ll need to reserve a space and guide two weeks in advance with the Nevados National Park authorities. Also, be warned that the actual crater is oftentimes closed due to threats of eruptions. Regardless of which hike you choose it will be a true adventure as both of these destinations are off the beaten tourist path.
So, what are you waiting for? Grab your gear, pack your bag, and head on down to the land of adventure! And, remember—while I’ve mentioned a few of the most popular extreme sports, there are many more waiting for you to seek them out!
Hasta la próxima,
Paige M. Pole
About the author:
“Paige M. Poole is an Alabamian and traveler at heart who has settled, for now, in Barranquilla, Colombia, and earns her living as an English professor at the Instituto de Idiomas (Language Institute) at la Universidad del Norte (University of the North). When not teaching English, she enjoys blogging, traveling, relaxing on the beach, and spending time with her partner and two cats, Milo and Sophie. You can see more of Paige’s traveling experiences in her personal blog www.trotamunda.wordpress.com
- Natural Parks in Colombia: Part I (www.uncovercolombia.com)
- Colombia: mountains, plains, beaches, desert and jungle, all in one country (www.uncovercolombia.com)
- Two nifty nature facts about Colombia (www.uncovercolombia.com)