Outdoor Adventures in Colombia

We have just spent more than ten weeks travelling through Colombia, and as we both love our outdoor adventurous activities, and therefore opted for several activity day trips, we’ve put together a few photos of our adventures white water rafting and downhill mountain biking, as well as from Sam’s three-day white water kayaking course.

Downhill Mountain Biking in Manizales

A pick-up truck drove us out of the city of Manizales, central Colombia, and high into Los Nevados mountain range. We were dropped off at an altitude of 4000m, on the mountainside of Nevado del Ruiz, an active volcano.

For the next few hours, we zoomed, rattled, and skidded our way along the rubble-strewn route down the mountain, descending nearly 2000m through the mist and cloud forest, which make up an ecosystem called ‘paramo’, comprised of high altitude, tropical, mountainous vegetation. I managed to come off my bike about 10kms into the 40km route, with no serious injuries, though a decided disbelief as to quite how I’d managed it (when we watched the GoPro footage later, it appears that I selected, from the pathway strewn with large, loose stones, the tiniest pebble possible). After a few hours, the landscape changed to farmland, and then we were suddenly in the heat and traffic of the city. We awkwardly managed to get our bikes into the gondola of the cablecar system and glide above the city, back to our starting point.

The day was great fun, and offered a decidedly different way of travelling through the landscape, especially given its scope and terrain, made all the more interesting by the fact that our guide was a Manizales born-and-bred local.

(The pictures make the road look a little tame here, we promise it did get more intense! The problem being, the rougher terrain diminished Sam’s ability to take photos while cycling.)

White Water Rafting in San Gil

The city of San Gil, in northern Colombia, is known as the adventure capital of Colombia, and particularly famed for its extreme white-water rafting. We opted for a journey along the Rio Suarez with level 5 white-water rapids (the most extreme possible that is safe to regularly navigate). Though the river was quite low, and therefore so was the volume of water, this only increased the need for careful manoeuvring and hazards in the forms of large rocks. It was definitely an exciting experience, particularly the higher graded rapids, which we had to paddle madly through, following the instructions our guide yelled out from the back of the raft to manoeuvre around rocks and over drops. As we were both sat in the front, we often received the worst from the walls of water we crashed into on a fairly regular basis, which only added to the fun for me (until I got too cold towards the end and withdrew into myself in order to hibernate and conserve heat).

Three-Day White Water Kayaking Course in San Gil

The day after our rafting experience, I decided to fulfil an ambition I’ve had since I first went rafting six years ago: white water kayaking. I enlisted in a three day course, designed to introduce me to the basics. I started off getting comfortable in the kayak and learning how to do the very important Eskimo roll (used to right the kayak if you capsize). Once I got the knack of that, even if I did find it hard to replicate under the pressure of actual rapids, we moved on to descending the river whilst practising skills and going down ever more difficult sections of the river. It was really great fun and I often caught myself smiling as I navigated my way through the rapids. Although I am far from being an expert, I definitely got the kayak bug and will be looking for any more opportunities that come my way.

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