by: Vanessa Martínez
Casa Maestra Co-Founder
Known as Colombia’s prettiest town, Barichara is indeed the most beautiful small town in the country.
If you are reading this post to start planning your trip, the first recommendation I can give you, is to stay at least two nights, and if time allows, book a whole week instead. Barichara might seem like another nice colonial town, but what I’ll share with you in this post will make you wanna include more than just a few days in your itinerary for this magical town. So let’s begin.
ABOUT THE TOWN
Barichara is a small colonial town in the heart of Los Andes, in Santander, Colombia, between the Chicamocha Canyon and the Serranía de los Yariguíes. Influenced by all this earthly energy, the atmosphere in Barichara is something special. Its colorful doors and cobblestone streets conserve the ancestral history, and a peace and tranquility hard to find nowadays.
The town expanded significantly after the pandemic, turning Barichara into a place where you can find people from all over the world, try international and local food, and hear different languages on the streets. All this while enjoying Guane indigenous and colonial traditions of architecture, pottery, rammed earth, big ass ants dishes, among many other cultural legacies.
Walking around Barichara will make you feel in a Disney movie (like Encanto). Its colonial doors and shutters, hanging flowers, and yellow earth make every street a perfect scenery for a photo, and will remain in your memory for ever.
HOW TO GET THERE
There are mainly two ways to get here: by ground or by air. Here I share the ways to get to Barichara from Bogotá and Bucaramanga, the main cities people comes from. Being The «Palonegro airport» in Bucaramanga the closest airport for commercial flights.
AIR. There’s actually a closer airport to Barichara: «Los pozos» in San Gil, but this is only available for charters. You can book a charter that will last 25 minutes. During the flight, you would contemplate the Chicamocha Canyon from above. You arrive to San Gil’s airport and from there you can take a taxi to Barichara. (Casa Maestra guests can book charters and taxis with us).
GROUND. A 4 hours ride from the Palonegro airport to Barichara. You will be in the midst of the Chicamocha Canyon, take iconic photos, and experience one of the curviest paths of Colombia. You can make some stops in the towns along the way. You can rent a car or private cab, or taxi a bus to San Gil and from there, another to Barichara.
CABLE CAR. The best option if you want to make the most of your trip. From Bucaramanga, you’ll take a private cab to Mesa de Los Santos, where you’ll find the Panachi cable car station. The cable car is a 20 minutes ride over the Chicamocha Canyon and a breathtaking experience. You’ll arrive in Panachi where your driver will pick you up and bring you to Barichara. Check Panachi rates and schedules here.
GROUND. By car or bus, it is an 6-8 hours ride. During the ride, you’ll pass by small towns in Cundinamarca, Boyacá, and Santander, where you can make a few stops to stretch your legs and try local food. You can rent a car or private cab, or take a bus to San Gil, and from there another one to Barichara.
WHAT TO DO
There are more things to do in Barichara than you probably imagine, and rest is one of those things. Barichara actually means «place for rest». With that said, I’m going to share with you a TOP 9 of things to do in Barichara. And if you decide to book your stay at Casa Maestra, we’ll send you Casa Maestras travel guide to Barichara with more recommendations.
- Hike from Barichara to Guane – Camino Real
An ancestral and wonderful trek to Guane, a smaller town, that is part of Barichara. Even though it is an easy road, it has some rocky and slippery parts. This is a 6km long trail made by the Guanes, the indigenous tribe that inhabited these lands before the Spanish conquest, and then rebuilt by a german merchant during the XIX century. The best time to start this walk is early in the morning before 9:00 am, or in the afternoon, after 3:30 pm. Best thing to do in Guane: have lunch in Ojalá (a Belgium restaurant) and enjoy the «mirador Guane» from where you can take a closer look to the Serranía de los Yariguíes and the Saravita river (also called the Suarez river). For the return, you can take a Tuc Tuc or a bus.
- Barichara paper workshop – Taller de papel
«El taller de papel» is a foundation that works with the community, especially local women. They teach how to make paper from natural fibers such as fique, pineapple, plantain, and many others. As a tourist, you can walk around its paths and do a small tour inside the workshop, where you can learn the process of making paper.
- Bioparque Móncora
This park is probably the best Barichara secret. It is a natural reserve created with a clear purpose: to preserve the tropical dry forest, Baricharas ecosystem. You can walk around its 7 Hectares (17 acres), learn about the flora and enjoy the magnificent view of the mountains. The perfect plan if you’re looking for a chill and natural way to spend your afternoon, read a book, or enjoy nature.
- Monkey cliff – El salto del mico
This is a viewpoint on the brim of Barichara. Here you will be amazed by the mountains and also can take memorable pictures. It’s the best place to watch the sunset and feel the peace of this magical town.
- Walk, walk and walk
As we said, every street here is a perfect scenery for a photo. Its cobblestone streets, colorful doors and balconies, yellow earth, and facades full of flowers will make you feel like another time. Give yourself a chance to walk around without google maps and get lost in these beautiful and ancestral roads. Barichara is one of the safest towns in Colombia, you can wander around the streets with fewer worries than in a city. Of course, be aware of your belongings and «don’t give papaya» or don’t let your guard down.
- Dolce far niente
In the ancient Guane language, Barichara means resting place. It’s an ideal place to connect with yourself and with nature, contemplate, and slow down and breathe. That is why we highly recommend you stay in a comfortable and private place like ours (you can check our availability here). So make sure you take time to do nothing and enjoy the tranquility and the peace of a small town.
- Explore the town in Tuc Tuc
The Tuc Tuc is the most popular way of transportation in the town. It’s an ideal experience for kids and adults. The Tuc Tuc drivers offer a tour around Barichara, where you can pass by the most iconic places. Even though this is a fun route, it is not a historical tour. You can book a tour with professional guides for accurate historical information.
One of the best things to do in Barichara (if not the best) is to eat! Here you can find many restaurants for a town, with a diversity that allows you to try different experiences and flavors. Most chefs cook with local ingredients and add a twist to the preparation to make them special and unique. You can find from countryside experiences to fancy restaurants, all with the taste of Santander.
- Visit where the goats live
And try their cheese. Visit a goat farm is one of the best activities to do with kids. The cliffs and sunny sky of Santander make the perfect landscape to raise goats, and in Barichara, you can visit a goat farm, learn about goat life and breeding, feed and pet them, and of course, try their cheese.
WHERE TO STAY
It’s not because we are the authors of this guide, but because our houses are the best in the town. Casa Maestra Barichara offers private, lavish, and cozy homes, surrounded by nature, peace and harmony. Here you’ll spend the most relaxing days of your trip. Trust us when we say that once you enter the house, you will not want to leave. Check it for yourself and consult availability and rates here.
WHERE TO EAT
One of the best things to do in Barichara is eat! Here are so many different restaurants and passionate chefs, that there’s no doubt you’ll enjoy your meals here. In this post I share with you a TOP 5 restaurants, and if you decide to book your stay at Casa Maestra, we’ll send you a more complete travel guide to Barichara, where you can find many more places to visit and restaurants to try.
- Elvia Cocina Local
The best rated restaurant in the town. Here you can taste the flavors of Santander in super creative and elegant dishes. Reservation needed.
- Ojalá, Guane
Soul food with a local twist. Minke and Elke, Ojalá Chefs, describe their restaurant as the «jardín de las delicias», the garden of delights. This vegetarian restaurant comes from Belgium to Cambodia to Colombia. No reservation needed.
- Milana Barichara
An outdoor experience where you can try local products and choose between brunch, pizza night, or private dinner. All of them with an awesome Barichara landscape.
- Casa Blanca
This place is the perfect match between elegance and tradition. A lovely coffee shop where you can grab a snack, a light lunch, or enjoy a wine under the stars. Its architectural design makes it a unique spot.
Mexican food with vegetarian options. A chill and casual restaurant that works for any occasion. Food, drinks, and desserts are so good.
One of the lovely perks of being in the tropic is that the sun is (almost) always shining. So if you’re visiting Barichara, make sure you bring sunscreen and a big hat that covers your shoulders, but be prepared to put it away after midday cause the winds significantly increase during the afternoon. Barichara’s temperature is between 28ºC and 16ºC (82ºF to 60ºF), this sounds like a lovely weather, and it is. Nevertheless, the UV radiation in Barichara usually rises up to 10, which can lead to feeling extremely hot at midday. The best time to walk around is from 6:00 to 10:00 am, and after 3:30 pm. In between, you better stay inside the house and enjoy the traditional courtyards and the perfect weather that rammed earth creates.
Barichara is a rich and abundant land where the plants grow and the water flows. However as many other towns, the lack of infrastructure, doesn’t allow a permanent water supply, and because of this, every house has a limited amount of water to spend. So, be super aware of this precious resource and use it rationally.
Most of the places in town are pet friendly. Walk around with your dog will be a good experience for both of you, just make sure you’re both hydrated and take care of your dog’s paws, especially at midday when the temperature rises too high. At Casa Maestra Barichara, pets are our favorite guests!
Now that you know so much about Barichara, you probably want to include it in the itinerary for your trip to Colombia. Of course, we look forward to hosting you at Casa Maestra Barichara.
Check Casa Maestra Barichara availability and rates by clicking here.
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