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In Barichara, set aside an afternoon for the Camino Real hike, a roughly two-hour, six-mile (9 km) hike to the tiny colonial village of Guane. It’s an easy trek descending from a high paved road on Barichara’s outskirts down to an ancient stone path through the bucolic valley below, silent but for the twittering of birds and the occasional grazing goat. You will likely have the path to yourself. In Guane, don’t miss a quick tour of the impressive Museo Paleontológico y Arqueológico—for $1, a petite, very knowledgeable woman named Cecilia (or one of her colleagues) will show you around (in Spanish, of course) the tons of regional fossils, ceramics, and even a 700-year-old Guane mummy. It’s a 15-minute bus ride back to Barichara; double-check the schedule so you don’t get stranded (the last one typically leaves around 5:30pm).
Within Barichara, be sure to walk up to the beautiful hilltop cemetery: all yellowed stonework and intricate, rusty wrought-iron crosses bedecked with bursts of colorful flowers. You can stop there before picking up the road to Guane.
Little San Gil is sort of a Queenstown, New Zealand in the making, where there’s no shortage of adrenalized activities to keep your heart pumping: hiking, waterfall rappelling, whitewater rafting/boogie boarding, paragliding, kayaking, mountain biking, caving. The Macondo Guesthouse is a good place to start looking into these.
The less adventurous in San Gil should make a beeline for the tranquilo Parque El Gallineral, a four-hectare urban forest along the powerful Río Fonce in which quiet, sun-dappled walking trails and the Quebrada Curití (creek) wind through awe-inspiring trees heavy with silvery moss (locally known as barbas de viejo, or old man’s beard). Find the park off the riverfront Malecon (Carrera 7) at Calle 6.
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