Following whitewater rafting, mountain biking on the hot, dry, jagged terrain is San Gil’s favorite sport. The Suarez and Chicamocha canyons offer spectacular downhill rides, passing waterfalls and remote farming villages. The Suarez Canyon ride passes through Yariguíes National Park and Barichara, while the Chicamocha ride ends in a natural spring.
Colombian Bike Junkies (www.colombianbikejunkies.com; tel. 316/327-6101), Calle 12N no. 12–35, offers day rides for COP$250,000 on either route, as well as multi-day, multi-sport tours that add rafting, hiking, and rappelling.
A 70m-high bungee jump has been set up over the Rio Fonce, 2km from San Gil on the road to Charalá. It’s open daily 9am to 5pm and operated by Colombia Bungee Jumping (www.bungee.co; tel. 300/770-9700; COP$70,000 per jump).
Outside of San Gil, several extensive cave networks can be found. The most famous is the Cueva del Indio, where 1.6km hikes through the galleries end with a 4m jump into a natural pool. Colombia Rafting offers 2-hour excursions into the cave, as well as to the Yeso and Vaca caves near Curiti.
There’s no more spectacular view of the Chicamocha canyon or surrounding countryside than from the air. Thirty-minute tandem paragliding trips are offered by Parapente Chicamocha (www.parapentechicamocha.com; tel. 318/745-9955), Carrera 7 no. 7–33.
If you had to narrow down San Gil to a single sport (which would be silly), it would be whitewater rafting. You can take on three different rivers, each resulting in a completely different experience. The Rio Fonce is the original and most popular river rafted in the region. It’s family friendly and suitable for beginners. The 10km trip, lasting about 1 and 1/2 hours, features Class I–III rapids. The Rio Chicamocha is for more experienced rafters, with Class II–IV rapids and dramatic canyon scenery. Most rafting trips on the Chicamocha last just a few hours, though some operators can set up longer, multi-day segments with camping or hotels in small towns along the route. The most intense whitewater near San Gil is found on the Rio Suarez, which has Class IV–V rapids. Depending on the operator, prices range from about COP$40,000 per person for a short excursion on the Rio Fonce to COP$130,000 for the Rio Suarez. Trips include transportation and lunch.
Colombia Rafting Expeditions (www.colombiarafting.com; tel. 311/291-2870), Calle 12 no. 8–32, is the preferred rafting agency and has been operating rafting, kayaking, and hydro-speed tours in the region for years.