My Husband's Favorite Town in Colombia: Barichara
Day 4 of our journey through the Department of Santander found us in Barichara. This was my husband’s favorite town. This charming village with cobbled streets, a large town square, and the requisite whitewashed walls and red-tile roofs, is just 30 minutes from San Gil. It has a beautiful Catholic church on the town square that captured my husband’s attention to take photographs and video for some time.
Meander Through Barichara
We walked around the town, enjoying the artisan stores, including a non-descript place that educated local women in the art of paper making. Inside you could see the steps they took to make the paper and we had a chance to watch a group of women put the finishing touches on making prints on paper.
The store opened up to beautiful grounds in the backyard where they had a garden displaying the various plants they used to turn into paper. And my kids enjoyed watching a small tortoise who was also touring the grounds. My daughter bought a handmade journal with beautiful leaves imprinted onto the cover.
Enjoy Fresh Bread
Over the course of our day, we also dined a few times at this hip, but quaint bakery located right on the square, Nona’s Bread. Inside we found tasty pastries and breads, plus delicious lunch options.
Our waiter surprised us all by speaking nearly flawless English, which he had only been studying for THREE WEEKS! He claimed that his trick was studying 5 to 6 hours a day using lessons he found on YouTube. Amazing.
Hike the Camino Real
At the top of the town is a gorgeous lookout into the canyon formed by the Suarez River. We soon walked down into that canyon using the “Camino Real” trail which leads to the even smaller town of Guane. The hike is beautiful and leads you over rough cobble stone pavers through the countryside.
A former trade route, it is now only visited by people on pilgrimage from Barichara to Guane. The trail has also been labeled by Roman Numerals from I to XII, which we assumed mimic the 12 stations of the cross, given the Catholic influence in most of this area. We enjoyed measuring our progress along the trail by the increase in numbers, finding XII as we entered Guane.
Guane is a very, very small town, with a small town square and not much else. We did nose around a bit in some of the shops on the square, but they were mostly filled with tourist trinkets, not artisan wares. Then we hopped a local bus back to Barichara and made our way back to San Gil, then Bucaramanga for the night.
We drove the 3 hour drive from San Gil to Bucaramanga as the sun was setting, which quickly turned into night. I would not recommend this drive at night. The road between the cities is mountainous, windy, and most importantly, packed with delivery and semi-trucks. And passing these slow moving trucks with all the curves of the road is death-defying, so take our advice and travel in the daytime.
The night was spent once again at the Hotel Dann Carlton, and it was like returning home after so many full days of adventure. To read about our complete itinerary through the cities and towns of the Department of Santander, see my complete post here.
Location: Barichara is located in the Department of Santander, Colombia. It is a short 30 minute drive from San Gil, and a 3 hour drive from Bucaramanga.
Where to Eat: Nona's Bread, located right on the town square. They have great breakfast and lunch options and a clean bathroom.
What to Wear: If you plan to hike El Camino Real, be sure to bring hiking boots and plenty of water.
What to Bring: Money or a credit card. This is the one town in all of our adventure that we purchased a number of artisan items at the various stores.