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Experience riding through Colombia's Vergel and Independence birthplace, full of royal roads, woods, waterfalls, colonial architecture, and historical heritage, you would not want to miss this! Crossing Barichara is one of only three routes that A Caballo por Colombia offers, all of which meet the standards of high-level international equestrian tourism!
You will be staying in various accommodations during this tour
During the expedition, accommodation is in rural hotels, simple but comfortable, clean, and with good food available. Accommodation is normally on a double basis, and single accommodation is normally available for a small extra charge. During the day, you go mostly through unpopulated places without the possibility of finding a bathroom.
At night, you will stay at cottages without luxury but with the essential amenities. Actually, there are no bathrooms throughout the tour. A Caballo por Colombia recommends the use of wet wipes which are then recycled in bags for subsequent transfer. There is intimacy because the fields are spacious and you can walk to get to be alone.
You will drive through the beautiful roads of the departments of Cundinamarca, Boyacá, and Santander, stopping at Puente de Boyacá, where the final battle for the independence of Colombia took place and after that, you will head to Villa de Leyva for a mini-tour and lunch. After lunch, you will go up to the town of Oiba where you will spend the night. It is approximately nine hours today.
The horses, already saddled, will be waiting for you at the hotel, and you will ride from Oiba to Charalá through beautiful woodlands and mountains with a pleasant temperature of approximately 68 degrees Fahrenheit, surrounded by luxuriant vegetation and clear water streams. You will enjoy homestyle lunch at a very humble local's house, be prepared to eat a lot. It is just not possible to have small portions in the countryside in Colombia.
By mid-afternoon, you will arrive in the noble town of Charalá, the birthplace of Colombia's independence, where you will admire the Cathedral and the precious Arabian Saman tree planted in the main square in 1910, in honor of the martyrs of Independence. On August 4th, 1819, more than 300 men and women were executed in this square, just three days before the final battle of independence at Puente de Boyacá, near Tunja.
This fact, no doubt, contributed to Bolivar’s victory at the Battle of Puente de Boyaca on August 7th, 1819, since it prevented the troops of the Spanish General González, which had destroyed Charalá, from joining those of General Barreiro in Tunja. At sunset, you will visit an artisanal cotton workshop run by women who use the same techniques coming from the Guane indigenous tribes that lived in this area before the Spaniards arrived.
After that, you will have a short city tour and historical talk walking along Charala's beautiful cobblestone streets and enjoy the pleasant weather, the architecture, and the kindness of its people before dining and retiring for a well-deserved rest at a local hotel.
You will leave at 9:00 a.m. and ride along the majestic Fonce River valley, where you can see on the left-hand side how the river is formed by the confluence of the Pienta and Táquiza rivers, under a natural arch of trees and bushes. To the right-hand side, you can see mountains planted with sugarcane and grass pastures. You will cross the Fonce River and then continue to the Juan Curi falls where you can see water falling more than 80 meters into a natural pool.
Here, you can refresh yourselves from the midday heat and enjoy a traditional lunch prepared in the local restaurant. Afterward, you will climb the mountain and pass along the top of the Juan Curi falls on your way to the village of Páramo, where you will be able to see one of the most beautiful churches in the region, made of stone and wood. The night will be spent at a nice hotel with a beautiful pool.
On the way to the village of El Socorro, another breeding ground of patriots and martyrs of the Independence at the end of the 18th century, you will see coffee plantations and spectacular mountains. After crossing the paved road that leads to Bucaramanga, at the municipality of El Socorro, you will proceed towards the voluminous Suarez River, famous for its rapids where Level V rafting is practiced, cross it on a suspension bridge, and start your descent towards the town of El Palmar.
On this journey, you can fully appreciate the magnificent basin of the Suarez River, a geographical formation carved over thousands of years by this river that is born in the Fúquene Lake, and which serves as a preamble to the spectacular canyon of the Chicamocha River which you will appreciate further on. In the afternoon, you will arrive in the beautiful town of El Palmar which features, on its main square, an enormous ceiba tree of approximately 10 meters in diameter. You will spend the night at a beautiful local hacienda.
After crossing the Suárez River again, you will take the path to Cabrera, a small village where colonial architecture has been exceptionally well preserved. From here, the trail continues to the Barichara plateau by way of the old royal road and enters this emblematic jewel of colonial architecture through the royal bridge. You will walk along its beautiful cobblestone streets, observing its parks and churches, on your way to a spectacular country house in the outskirts of town.
You will have a three-hour ride through beautiful tobacco plantations on the way to The Chicamocha Canyon, a Colombian natural attraction nominated as part of the group of 261 destinations in the campaign to select the top seven modern natural wonders of the world. This paradise-like place is a not-to-be-missed visual spectacle. Imposing, majestic, and fascinating is how tourists describe the Chicamocha Canyon, a geographic accident located in the department of Santander. After having a delicious goat, the specialty of this region, you will return to Barichara to enjoy a delicious dinner and a well-deserved rest.
The real treasure of Barichara is its pristine colonial architecture. Many come to this pueblo just to wander its flagstone lanes, snapping photos of the white-washed, red-tile-roofed buildings. Start your exploration at the Templo de la Inmaculada Concepción y San Lorenzo on the main square. It is built of local stone carved by the village’s artisans. The 'Capilla de San Juan de Dios' is a beautiful church with a noteworthy cemetery.
The 'Capilla de San Antonio' is a famous attraction with a small shaded plazuela. The 'Casa Aquileo Parra' was once-home of a former Colombian President (1876-78). It is presently a museum. The 'Capilla Santa Bárbara' is an amazing place to visit, now used for cultural events and weddings. The afternoon is free to walk around Barichara or simply rest at the hotel or enjoy the pool, but most of the visitors enjoy doing rafting (level two) in the Fonce river (optional).
You will return to Bogota and accommodation in a comfortable hotel (dinner not included).
You will be transferred from the hotel to the airport. This is the end of this great adventure.
The horses are the result of a careful selection for more than 30 years, and all of them have some Colombian Criollo in their blood, even the Anglo-Arabians used in 80 and 120-kilometer endurance rides, and of course Anglo-Arabians crossings with Colombian Criollos for intermediate riders, which makes them particularly suitable for several days, long-distance rides. Horses of their breed have on their left forearm the mark of the heart that has been used in cattle and horses in family haciendas for more than 150 years. 90 percent of their horses descend from Paka, Icaro, and Salalah el Dakar.
Paka (63 percent Thoroughbred and 37 percent Criollo) was a wonderful endurance mare, daughter of Pluma (25 percent Thoroughbred and 75 percent Criollo), an outstanding polo mare, and Many Names, a beautiful jumping Chilean Thoroughbred. Paka won many competitions in the Colombian endurance calendar between 2003 and 2005 when she got lamed in one foreleg's joint and was dedicated to breeding, she died in 2019 at the age of 22. A Caballo por Colombia has eight sons and daughters of Paka and 21 of their current horses have some of her blood.
Icaro (50 percent Thoroughbred and 50 percent Shagya) was the son of K.S. Tradition, an outstanding Shagya bred in the U.S. and Demigod, a Thoroughbred also bred in the U.S. by Eduardo Gaviria, both imported to Colombia by him, a very well-known Colombian breeder who had a horse breeding farm in Ocala, Florida. He was the breeder of Real Quiet, winner of two of the three races of the American triple crown in 1998. Icaro is registered in the Venezuelan Association of Arabian Horse Breeders under the number SHA 080. He was tamed in 2012, did some endurance rides, and was a stallion until 2014 when he was castrated and we had to put him down shortly after that because a mare kicked him and broke one of his front legs.
Salalah El Dakar (Sally) was a very nice and gentle pure Arabian, bred in California. Imported to Colombia in 2006, she competed in endurance and did many rides with A Caballo por Colombia, unfortunately, died in 2019 at the age of 18. She had an abortion in 2017 and never recovered. Sally is registered in the American Arabian Horse Breeders Association under the number 0606222 and in the Colombian Association of Arabian Horses Breeders under the number CSB 302-07.
The routes are considered difficult, ideal for experienced riders (strong intermediate and above) with good and demanding horses, suitable for several long journeys. Journeys vary between six to nine hours on horseback. Participants in any adventure activity as horseback riding are active people and consequently candidates to suffer accidents. Hospitals will not be quickly available during part of the rides and rescues or evacuations may not be immediate.
Ensuring a real adventure experience, controlling the risks inherent to it, is one of the main concerns of A Caballo por Colombia from the physical safety of the participants to the reliability of the food. To mitigate the risks implicit in the activity, they train the guides permanently and give the participants instructions on safety before the rides. Some key aspects regarding security they take into consideration are:
They review the routes a few days before the rides to confirm the adequate security conditions of the areas to visit and the state of the roads. They use communication elements (two-way radios and satellite tracker) to maintain permanent contact with the support vehicle, assistance company, and authorities.
They work with partners who are aware of the importance of hygiene in the processes and the quality of the raw materials used and their team previously verifies compliance with these conditions in all places where food is consumed during the activity.
The tour will take place in Colombia. Your route will be Bogotá - Oiba - Charalá - Paramo - El Palmar - Barichara - Chicamocha Canyon - Barichara and finally back to Bogotá. Barichara is a small town in Santander, Colombia that has been chosen several times as the cutest little town in Colombia and conserves its colonial architecture practically intact.
All meals and drinks during the riding program, except for meals on days one and nine and alcoholic beverages, are included in the price. Breakfasts include eggs, bread, arepas (kind of corn cake), coffee, tea, chocolate, milk, and fruit or juices of tropical fruits, in which Colombia has a wide variety and availability throughout the year (pineapple, papaya, melon, soursop, feijoa, mango, grapefruit, passion fruit, lulo, etc.).
For lunch, you will carry sandwiches, accompanied by potato chips, various drinks (soda, beer, and water), and brownies or cookies for dessert. For dinner, depending on the place, it is possible to have at least two menu options normally including beef or chicken with potatoes, salad, and fruit. If you are a vegetarian, simply let A Caballo por Colombia know to prepare meals without meat. For other special diets, please let them know before.
El Dorado International Airport
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