The road between San Gil and Bucaramanga partly follows and even descends into this majestic canyon, providing a stunning vista with Rio Chicamocha snaking along more than 1.000 meters below. The area is desert-like, with lots of thorny shrubs, cactuses and even more goats climbing with ease through the steep terrain, tugging at twigs.
Halfway between these two cities is El Parque Nacional de Chicamocha, the baby among all Columbian National parks, which only opened in 2006 and popular it is. Within the next two weeks the millionth visitor is expected, the numbers of guests increased sharply after the cable car started operating in February 2009.
For those wondering if it is worth dishing out the 30.000 COP or 15 USD for the 6 kilometer ride down and up to the other rim, La Mesa de Los Santos, well, the best view of the canyon is actually from the “Mirador” high above on the side of the entrance gate, because you have a 360 degree view and can see the river’s meandering around a mountain. This view can be bought for only 10.000 COP. If you want to be really thrifty, be happy with what you see from the bus, which is spectacular, or get off at the entrance and use the lookout of the cafeteria located outside the park.
The trip in the brand new “Teleferico” is okay. Actually, especially watching the Columbian families being excited when getting on and over the cliff is good fun, but the view from across the canyon is truly disappointing. That side is also a work in progress, lots of hammering and chiseling. On a weekday during off-season this place looked completely oversized and some attractions seem rather desperate attempts to increase the number of sights, like the four lone ostriches or the gigantic bow of a ship perched on the mountain top.
To sum it up, we surely enjoyed the great view, but above all chatting with Columbian families who looked at us in amazement: it seems the park does not get a lot of foreign visitors!