Day 4

This 10 day trail through the Eastern regions of Colombia takes you from the town of Oiba to colonial Barichara, passing through colonial towns, villages, coffee and sugar cane plantations, waterfalls and canyons. You'll follow along the famous cobblestone paths of the ‘Camino Real’ (royal roads), stopping to swim in natural pools and and waterfalls before reaching the hilltop colonial town of Barichara. 

Accommodation is provided in authentic, local haciendas and small hotels. This trail is off the beaten path and is suitable for adventurous riders, interested in discovering more of Colombia's fascinating history and admiring the country's incredible scenery.

Please Note: The opinions expressed in these reviews are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Unicorn Trails Ltd. These reviews are "directly from the horses mouth" and unedited. Unicorn Trails may make additional comments for clarification clearly identified in red.

Review received from GP of Toronto on 23/06/2020

Any other comments:
I took the Barichara ride in February 2018. It was my first visit to Colombia and it was a wonderful experience. The horses were very good, food was delicious, and the accommodation very comfortable. Julio and his support team took very good care of us. But what was truly unique about this trip was the countryside and small towns that we were traveling through. It was mostly rural Colombia with very few tourists, where riding through the centre of town on a horseback was so matter of fact that nobody paid any attention to us, and car drivers and motorcyclists politely gave us the right of way. Quite often we would dismount, tie our hoses and sit down for a beer or a coffee in a street cafe.
Unicorn comments: Thank you for your feedback. Glad you had a great time! :)

Day 1: Bogota Arrival Transfer Airport / Hotel.
Check into hotel and overnight (no meals included).

Day 2: Bogotá – Oiba
You will be collected from the hotel and driven through the beautiful roads of Cundinamarca, Boyacá and Santander, stopping at Puente de Boyacá, where the final battle for the independance of Colombia took place. After exploring 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. 

Day 3: Oiba – Charalá
Today you will meet the horses and ride from Oiba to Charalá through beautiful woodlands and mountains, surrounded by lush vegetation and clear water streams. You'll enjoy a homemade lunch at a 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 town of Charalá; birthplace of Colombia's independence. Here, you can admire the Cathedral and the precious Arabian Saman tree planted in the main square in 1910, in honor of the martyrs of Independence. At sunset you'll visit an artisanal cotton workshop run by women who use the same techniques used by the Guane indigenous tribes that lived in this area. After this, you'll 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.

Day 4: Charalá – Paramo
You'll leave at 9am, and ride along the majestic Fonce River valley surrounded by mountains planted with sugarcane and grass pastures. You will cross the Fonce River, and then continue to the Juan Curi falls where water falls more than 80 meters into a natural pool. Here you can take a refreshing dip, and enjoy a traditional lunch prepared in the local restaurant. Afterwards, you will pass along the top of the Juan Curi falls on the 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.

Day 5: Páramo – El Palmar
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'll pass coffee plantations and spectacular mountains. After crossing the paved road that leads to Bucaramanga, at the municipality of El Socorro, you'll head towards the voluminous Suarez River and start the descent towards the town of El Palmar. In the afternoon you'll arrive in the beautiful town of El Palmar which features, on its main square, an enormous ceiba tree of approximately 10 meters in diameter. Overnight in a local hacienda.

Day 6: El Palmar – Barichara
After crossing the Suárez River again, you'll 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'll walk along its beautiful cobblestone streets, observing its parks and churches, on the way to a spectacular country house in the outskirts of town where you'll spend the night.

Day 7: Barichara Cañón
Today you'll ride for 3 hours through beautiful tobacco and pineapple 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. 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.

Day 8: Sightseeing in Barichara
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. You'll have the afternoon free to walk around Barichara or simply rest at the hotel or enjoy the pool. Alternatively river rafting can be arranged in the Fonce river (optional and not included).

Day 9: Barichara – Bogotá
Return to Bogota and accommodation in a comfortable hotel (dinner not included).

Day 10: Bogotá
Transfer from Hotel to Airport. 

Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.

Horses & Riding

There are 16 horses available for riding, ranging in height from 14hh-15.2hh. All the horses have some Colombian Criollo in their blood, even the Anglo Arabs used in 80 and 120km endurance rides, and of course Anglo Arabs crossed with Colombian Criollos, which makes them particularly suitable for several day, long distance rides. English tack is used although there are also some trail saddles. Some of the terrain is very tough and includes river crossings, you should also be confident at negotiating steep ascents and descents. There are opportunities to trot and canter but the pace is not overly fast.



Guides are professional and multilingual (fluent in English and Spanish). The guides are equipped with mobile phones, 2 ways radios and sattelite tracker so they can call for assistance if needed. Groups comprise a minimum of 2 riders and maximum of 12 riders.


Rider requirements

This ride is suitable for intermediate to experienced riders. You should be confident at all paces, over tough terrain (including mountainous and river crossings) and expect long hours of riding. There are 5 days on horseback with between 6-9 hours riding per day. There are some places on the ride where you will need to dismount and lead your horse (a maximum of 2km during the whole ride).

Riders mustn't exceed the weight limit of 85Kg. The minimum age is 12 years old, children must be accompanied by an adult. Riding hats are mandatory for under 18s and are available to borrow.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 187 lb/85 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

Nights will be spend in authentic, clean and comfortable hotels and lodges with private bathrooms and good food, but do not expect luxuries such as air conditioning during the ride. Please also be aware that cold showers are normal in Colombia. The trail travels through remote areas of the country, with very little tourism, although you can expect plenty of colonial architecture, historical heritage, diverse landscapes and wonderful people. 



Plentiful home-cooked meals are provided on some days, giving a taste of Colombia's traditional cuisine. Other days you will eat in a local restaurant. Some of the most common ingredients are beef, fish, chicken, goat, cassava, potatoes, rice, plantains, tropical fruits, corn cakes, vegetables. Tea, coffee and soft drinks are all included but wine and beer are not although you will be able to purchase these separately when dining in a restaurant.


Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.

Documents - Visa and Consulate Info

Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip. If Visa’s are required the requirements can change from year to year depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country. Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate on request.

General information:
British nationals can enter Colombia for up to 90 days as a visitor without a visa at the discretion of the Colombian Immigration Officer on arrival. You may need to provide evidence of return or onward travel. Check the latest entry requirements with the Colombian Consulate General in London before you travel.
You may be able to extend your stay once you are in Colombia by up to 120 days by applying at the immigration office Migración Colombia. As a visitor, you can’t remain in Colombia for more than 180 days in any 12 month period. Don’t overstay your visa.
If you’re a British-Colombian dual national, you must enter and leave Colombia using your Colombian passport and Colombian identification card (Cedula).
If you enter Colombia by land from either Ecuador or Venezuela, make sure you have your passport stamped by the immigration authorities. Failure to do so may result in a fine on departure. If the immigration office on the border is closed, seek help at the nearest office of Migración Colombia.

Passport validity: Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Colombia.

Colombian Consulate in London:
3rd Floor, Westcott Place
London W1B 1AE.
Tel: 020 7927 7123 - Fax: 020 7637 5604


British Consulate, in Bogota:
Cra 9 No. 76 - 49 piso 9
Bogota-Colombia
Email: consular.bogota@fco.gov.uk
Tel: (+571) 3268300

Climate Summary

Colombia is a tropical country and a large part of Colombia is moutainous territory with altitudes between 1000m and 5000m. It is hot and humid all year around at the coast (Carribean and Pacific) and in all low lands. During the trail ride you will be riding in the Cordillera Oriental within the departments of Cundinamarca and Santander on an altitude between 1500m and 2500m where temperature is about 23C during the day and about 18C at night all year round. The last 2 days of the trail ride will be at a lower region in Santander where temperatures go up to about 28C during the day and about 20C at night.

Climate Chart

Health

At Unicorn Trails, the health and safety of our customers is of paramount importance.
Travellers should ideally arrange an appointment with their health professional at least four to six weeks before travel. However, even if time is short, an appointment is still worthwhile. This appointment provides an opportunity to assess health risks taking into account a number of factors including destination, medical history, and planned activities. For those with pre-existing health problems, an earlier appointment is recommended.
Most travellers are recommended to vaccinate against Hepatitis A and Tetanus. Awareness of Malaria risk and bite avoidance is recommended.
There is a risk of altitude illness when travelling to destinations of 2,500 metres (8,200 feet) or higher. There is a point of elevation in this country higher than 2,500 metres. An example place of interest, Bogota 2,644m.
Travellers should spend a few days at an altitude below 3,000m.
Where possible travellers should avoid travel from altitudes less than 1,200m to altitudes greater than 3,500m in a single day.
Ascent above 3,000m should be gradual. Travellers should avoid increasing sleeping elevation by more than 500m per day and ensure a rest day (at the same altitude) every three or four days.
Acetazolamide can be used to assist with acclimatisation, but should not replace gradual ascent.
Travellers who develop symptoms of AMS (headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea and sleep disturbance) should avoid further ascent. In the absence of improvement or with progression of symptoms the first response should be to descend.
Development of HACE or HAPE symptoms requires immediate descent and emergency medical treatment.

Health (ride specific)

The highlands in Colombia is a safe region in terms of health. You can easily eat and drink anything and eating raw vegetables, salads and ice creams is no problem.
There are no vaccinations required and there is no malaria in this part of Colombia.
In case of illness or an accident, there are good hospitals and doctors nearby.

Film and Camera Equipment

•Voltage: 110 V
•Frequency: 60 Hz
•Power sockets: type A / B

In Colombia the standard voltage is 110 V. The standard frequency is 60 Hz. The power sockets that are used are of type A / B. In towns and villages there is mobile Internet access and phone coverage everywhere. During the riding trip full time coverage is not guaranteed and there is almost no internet access.

Packing List

Valid international passport
Travel Insurance
Pocket money (you can change EUR/£/USD in the airport)
Riding hat (available to borrow
A warm sweater and a jacket
Raincoat
4 or 5 T-shirts and minimum 2 shirts with long sleeves.
Jodhpurs or jeans to ride in
Riding shoes or boots / riding shoes with mini-chaps or long chaps
A second pair of shoes for the evening
Swimsuit, comfortable clothing + a Hat (a nice Colombian hat can be bought on location)
One towel
Toiletries
Insect Repellent
Sun Cream
Water bottle/canteen
Camera
Head torch
Lip sunscreen
Saddle bags are provided.

* It is recomended to put your luggage in a soft travel bag instead of a hard suitcase. 10 bags are easier to get in the backup vehicle than 10 suitcases,

Programmes

This is an 10 day/9 night programme with riding on 5 days available on set dates.

Departure Dates

2021: February 10; March 20; May 22; June 19; July 24; August 28; October 16; November 20.

Pricing
No single supplement payable if willing to share with someone of same sex. Should you wish to book a single room, please see supplement price below.

Please note that single rooms are subject to availability.

No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
2020/21 - 9 Nights10d/9n5double pp1,949
2020/21 - 9 Nights10d/9n5single supplement per night30
2020/21 - 9 Nights10d/9n5supplement for group of 4-7225
2020/21 - 9 Nights10d/9n5supplement for group of 2-3649
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
2020/21 - 9 Nights10d/9n5double pp2,255
2020/21 - 9 Nights10d/9n5single supplement per night35
2020/21 - 9 Nights10d/9n5supplement for group of 4-7259
2020/21 - 9 Nights10d/9n5supplement for group of 2-3749
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description $
2020/21 - 9 Nights10d/9n5double pp2,599
2020/21 - 9 Nights10d/9n5single supplement per night40
2020/21 - 9 Nights10d/9n5supplement for group of 4-7299
2020/21 - 9 Nights10d/9n5supplement for group of 2-3869
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
2020/21 - 9 Nights10d/9n5double pp23,075
2020/21 - 9 Nights10d/9n5single supplement per night355
2020/21 - 9 Nights10d/9n5supplement for group of 4-72,665
2020/21 - 9 Nights10d/9n5supplement for group of 2-37,695
Recommended Reading

Reading List

We're avid readers here at Unicorn Trails and have selected several books connected to this ride. If you're interested in reading more about the area before you travel, or want to get into the cultural background, here are some suggestions that may inspire you. Click on the links for more information.



100 Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The defining novel of magical realism, this is a family chronicle revolving around an imaginary village. The haunting strangeness of the Colombian interior, as it must have been perceived by the first Spaniards, is beautifully conveyed in the course of a journey in which the village's early settlers encounter a Spanish galleon mysteriously stranded in the middle of a jungle. The rest of the book develops into what can be interpreted as a poetic history of Colombia; a timeless classic.



Short Walks from Bogota by Tom Feiling

This best-selling book looks unpacks the country’s troubled past through encounters with Colombians and achieves understanding how the country arrived to its present state. Short Walks from Bogotá: Journeys in the New Colombia is inspiring, well-written, and provides a great in-depth historic view of the country.



For Spanish readers only: La otra raya del Tigre by Pedro Gómez Valderrama - a wonderful novel telling the story of Geo Von Lengerke, a German noble who visited the Santander province in the 19th century searching for fortune and did an incredible job connecting Santander with the world at that time. 



The Mango Orchard: The extraordinary true story of a family lost and found   A young Englishman who travelled in Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico, in part to trace the fascinating story of his great grandfather's adventures in Central America a century ago. There is a great twist at the end, which we won't spoil.


Travel Summary

Meeting-point (getting there):
Bogota Airport (BOG)
Transfer:
Return transfer to Bogota airport included.
Flight Guide:
London (LON) - Bogota (BOG) around £530
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