My name is Frank and I run a travel agency in Bogota, Colombia. Have fun while reading!
Risky sports and extreme sports in Colombia
Colombia is not only a paradise for bird watchers, culture lovers, and nature lovers, but Colombia also offers countless opportunities for various sports due to its diversity, topography, and different bio-regions.
In addition to two coasts to the Pacific and the Caribbean, Colombia also has various mountain ranges up to an altitude of 5,700 meters (18,700 feet) above sea level. There are also deserts, coffee-growing areas, volcanoes, rainforests, the Amazon, and much more.
Although the department of Santander with its destination San Gil has established itself as the so-called mecca for risk sports, there are of course many more fantastic destinations within Colombia and lots of adrenaline rush to get.
The following is a list of the risk and extreme sports that are dealt within the text:
- Motorbike Tours
- Mountain Biking
- River Rafting & Kayaking
- Bungee Jumping
- Spelunking / Speleology / Potholing
- Ziplining / Canopying
- Survival Training / Jungle Tours
- 4×4 Off-Road Tours
Motorcycle Tours in Colombia
Colombia is already a paradise for motorcyclists and a large part of the population chooses this mode of transport. Although there are also groups of motorcyclists on the main roads on the weekends who hardly follow the speed limits with heavy motorcycles, the majority of the residents are on motorcycles with small cubic engines and, in many cases, technically questionable conditions.
As a result, a large tow truck is present at regular police checks across the country, on which the confiscated motorcycles are then transported to the assembly point. Each of these assembly points is more like a motorcycle cemetery since the average citizen usually has no money to recover the seized vehicle.
In Colombia, you are allowed to drive a vehicle with a driver’s license from your country, provided you are not in the country for more than 6 months. After that, a national driving license is required.
Motorcycle Tours and Rentals on the Caribbean Coast
Many tourists rent a motorcycle in Santa Marta to discover the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. However, if you choose a scooter with its small wheels, you won’t get far in the rainy season. Shortly after Minca, you will have to push your vehicle uphill through deep mud.
However, you can also take guided tours. From a simple visit to some sights in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta to coastal trips, multi-day off-road adventures to a tour to Punta Gallinas, everything is offered.
The Sierra Nevada Mountains are on the coast and rise to over 5,700 meters above sea level. An exciting off-road adventure with an incredible view is guaranteed here. To drive to Punta Gallinas you have to cross the desert of La Guajira. The keywords here are heat and a lot of sand. I strongly advise anyone who is thinking of driving to Punta Gallinas on their own “DON’T DRIVE ALONE TO PUNTA GALLINAS”. Solo drivers have already disappeared in this area.
Motorcycle Tours and Rentals Bogota, Medellin and Coffee Zone
In these regions of the country, various travel companies offer various motorcycle tours. In the middle of the Andes, you can take curves between the various mountain ranges and enjoy many sights along the way.
I would like to name a tour that I have already driven by car. The route leads from Bogota north to the Boyacá department, which sometimes reminds of the pre-Alps of Switzerland due to its topography and is full of colonial cities. After Villa de Leyva, the journey continues to Cocuy, taking 1 million curves until you see the snow-capped peaks up to 5,300 meters above sea level. The journey continues to Yopal, the capital of Casanare in the Colombian Llanos. The Llanos is known for its safari where you can see a lot of animals.
Kitesurfing in Colombia
I made my kitesurfing debut in Aruba. After hardly feeling my office hands after 2 days of windsurfing, I wanted to try this out.
So I flew to San Andres, because friends recommended it to me. On the Caribbean island, there was just a little wind and it was also not possible for me to find a kite rental company.
Kitesurfing in La Guajira
However, I found what I was looking for in Cabo de la Vela. In a remote desert region without electricity, there are several kite schools in the fishing village. The regular offshore wind and the wide flat sea offer ideal conditions, not only for beginners but also for advanced kiters.
The destination offers no luxury and the best sleep can be enjoyed in a hammock. The advantage, the whole thing does not cost the world either.
Kitesurfing on Lake Calima
Located around an hour’s drive outside of Cali, this lake offers the ideal conditions. With around 300 wind days a year, this destination is a true paradise for water sports enthusiasts.
The reservoir has an area of 20 square kilometers and offers various schools and entrances. In addition, the region lies on the Pacific and there are enough alternative excursions for wind-free days.
Mountain Biking in Colombia
3 Andean Mountain Chains, topography from 0 to 5,700 meters (18,700 feet) above sea level. Gorges up to 2 kilometers (6,600 feet) deep. I don’t have to tell you more about Colombia’s superlatives.
Here is a link to the Wikiloc page, where you can discover 122,000 tours in Colombia. In the following, I will only briefly go into more detail on individual routes.
Mountain Biking in the Coffee Zone
The coffee zone is certainly one of the most spectacular areas in the world and its beauty can hardly be put into words. In the northern department of Caldas, the Nevado del Ruiz volcano also rises to over 5,300 meters (17,400 feet) above sea level.
You can go down from the mountain in a day tour to Manizales, which is still at an altitude of 2,150 meters (7,050 feet) above sea level. In addition to this descent, there are other interesting tours in the Caldas region.
Of course, there are also providers for one or more day mountain bike tours in the backpacker stronghold Salento. These then lead through the Valle del Cocora and Filandia, for example. The trip towards Tolima is even more exciting.
River Rafting and Kayaking in Santander
Again, San Gil in the Santander department heads the list of notoriety and has a very good offer. The difficulty levels also vary between the rivers Suarez, Chicamocha, and Fonce.
In recent years, San Gil has made a name for itself primarily as a destination for backpackers. With Barichara just around the corner and the Chicamocha Canyon, the region offers something for all tastes.
The difficulty level goes up to level 5, which means that the water foams and you have a pretty wild ride in front of you. Everything that is classified above level 5 is considered life-threatening.
River Rafting and Kayaking in the Rest of Colombia
I have already carried out the mecca of river rafting, but there are many other attractive regions where it is also warmer.
- Cauca river near Santa Fe de Antioquia (near Medellin)
- Calderas river (near Guatape)
- River Rio Negro (near Bogota )
- River Rio Verde and Rio Samana (near Medellin)
- River Páez (Paicol, Tolima )
- Magdalena River (San Agustin)
- River Rio Güejar Gorge and River (Meta)
- River Rio Juanambu (Pasto, Nariño)
This list is not exhaustive and there are probably a few more destinations where you can also experience great rafting adventures including waterfalls and breathtaking landscapes.
Paragliding in Colombia
Where there are mountains, there is a natural paraglider hunting area. Because the thermal is the ally of the pilots and flights can be extended many times over under favorable conditions. Below are the locations where tandem flights are offered:
- Chicamocha trench
- El Peñol
- San Felix
- San Gil
I am sure that you can also add many destinations with the agreement of the relevant providers, since all you need is a high terrain and a short runway to practice the sport. Officially, there are currently 19 approved starting points spread across the country.
In this way, however, I would also like to point out the risks involved in paragliding. According to a newspaper report, flying was banned for 3 months in 2019 after several incidents involving fatalities and injuries.
Climbing in Colombia
Climbing is common in Colombia, as ideal conditions can be found in many places. In larger cities, there are indoor and outdoor facilities as well as hills and mountains all over the country.
One of the most famous destinations is surely Suesca near Bogota. This striking rock in the middle of the landscape offers ideal conditions for beginners and advanced climbers.
Other well-known destinations are
- El Cocuy, Boyaca
- El Peñol, Guatape
- La Calera
- La Florian
- La Mojarra, Mesa de los Santos
- La Peña
- Puente Reyes
- Refugio de la Roca
- San Gil, Santander
- Valle de los Halcones
- Valle Escondido, Choachi
Diving in Colombia
Colombia, with its access to 2 different oceans, is an interesting option for diving trips. Many travelers also choose to do the PADI in Colombia because the prices are very competitive and do not tear a big hole in the till. I am not a diver myself, but I know some regions from my travels in Colombia, where dives are very popular.
Diving in the Colombian Caribbean
Rosario Islands and Baru
Near Cartagena, there are the Rosario Islands, which give a true Caribbean feeling. You can be there by boat within 45 minutes. However, there are also many accommodations on the islands.
Located right next to Santa Marta, this typical destination for backpackers also offers cheap PADI courses. There are various providers and the Tayrona National Park is also just a stone’s throw away.
San Andres Island
The island of San Andres has developed into a destination for mass tourism and boatloads of tourists are unfortunately unloaded directly onto the reefs. Sustainability naturally works differently. Nevertheless, the island offers some diving schools and interesting diving destinations.
The neighboring island of San Andres is the Caribbean dream island par excellence and is also not flooded by visitor flows. The diving grounds are part of a national park and are protected.
There are different diving providers and I was told that Providencia is an absolute top spot for diving enthusiasts.
Capurgana & Sapzurro
This destination has also become popular among backpackers in recent years. Unfortunately, I have not been there yet and cannot say anything about it.
Diving in the Colombian Pacific
This island was formerly used as a prison and is located 30 kilometers from the coast. Today the island is considered a biodiverse paradise, above and below the waterline.
As a national park, however, there are various requirements that visitors must meet. A visit is definitely worthwhile. You can arrive via Buenaventura.
If you are ready for a boat trip that takes about 40 hours, you should definitely have the island of Malpelo on your radar. The dives are known primarily because of the number of hammerhead sharks that can be admired there.
The arrival takes place from the port city of Buenaventura.
This fishing village on the Pacific is not only the starting point for whale watching, deep-sea and coastal fishing, but also offers interesting dives. All equipment is available on site, but instructors must be requested in Medellin.
Surfing in Colombia
You won’t find any 20-meter (60 feet) waves in Colombia, but there are some interesting destinations that offer good waves.
There are many beaches in and around Nuqui, and I would particularly like to highlight the Guachalito beach here. Most hotels on this beach also offer surfboards for rent or free for guests.
The last time I visited this Pacific region, I didn’t see any other tourists on the beaches of Nuqui and Guachalito. There will not be crowds nor a fight for the wave.
From Buenaventura, you can reach different islands or Pacific vacation destinations. El Valle is definitely worth mentioning here. But one can describe this destination as more rustic.
This fishing village, also located in the Choco department, offers a variety of good beaches nearby, which are suitable for surfing.
Caribbean coast of Colombia
Although the entire Colombian Caribbean coast is incredibly long and a lot more accessible than the Pacific coast, the waves are usually not as exciting as in the Pacific. However, if you are interested in surfing, you will certainly be able to spot some surf spots on-site between Cartagena and Riohacha.
Bungee Jumping in Colombia
In Colombia, I was able to identify 3 bungee jumping destinations. One is in San Gil, Colombia’s Mecca for high-risk sports, the other in Medellin, and one in Samaca Boyaca.
In San Gil, the height is 70 meters (230 feet), in Medellin 80 meters (262 feet) and in Samaca the height is 40 meters (130 feet).
Speleology in Colombia
To be honest, I don’t know any of these caves. The only hole I’ve climbed down so far is the Zipaquira Salt Cathedral. However, since I now know about it from researching, I will write these destinations on my to-do list.
Below is a list of caves to be discovered in Colombia.
|Cavernas del Rio Nus||Antioquia|
|Cueva de los Guácharos||Huila / Caqueta|
|Cueva de Tolú Viejo||Sucre|
|Cueva del Ayal y La Fábrica||Boyaca|
|Cueva del Indio||Santander|
|Cueva del Tigre||Huila|
|Cuevas Rio Claro||Antioquia|
|Cuevas del Tuluni||Tolima|
|La Caja de Agua||Huila|
|La Cueva de la Vaca||Santander|
|La Cueva del Esplendor||Jardin|
|Las cavernas de El Peñón||Santander|
|Las Ventanas de Tisquizoque Florian||Santander|
|Morgan’s Cave||San Andres|
Canopy / Zipline in Colombia
This offer is available in Colombia in different regions, but the experiences are very different.
- Zipaquira Salt Cathedral
- Chicamocha trench
- La Ceja & Abejorral
- San Gil
- Chicaque National Park
- Tiuma Park
Skydiving in Colombia
Wherever there are airfields, there may also be an offer for skydiving. You get on a small airplane and gain altitude. The beginner then jumps in tandem from the plane, and the instructor is on the beginner’s back.
In Colombia, there are offers in Barranquilla on the Caribbean coast, near Girardot and in Cali.
Survival Training / Jungle Tour in Colombia
I have found only a few offers in this regard. In Colombia, however, there is the possibility of visiting indigenous tribes in connection with community tourism and also spending a few days with them. So if you live a few days with the Indians in the Amazon region of Colombia, which makes up about 1/3 of the total area, you will certainly learn something.
4×4 Off-Road Tours in Colombia
Colombia is a tourist country, otherwise, this destination would have become a 4×4 Mecca. I myself drive a Land Cruiser 150 and have already traveled over 60,000 kilometers in the country. Incidentally, I installed a snorkel relatively quickly.
There are now 4×4 clubs that organize regular tours. Some organizers also offer various activities with various vehicles.
Colombia has mountains, deserts, rainforests, and lots of unpaved roads. I was already happy about my potential vehicle several times and would have got stuck with a less qualified vehicle.
One of the most spectacular tours is the trip to Punta Gallinas in the La Guajira department, at the northernmost point of the continent.
Colombia Travel Guides
For those who need good information for their trip to Colombia, the following guides are the best available
- Colombia Travel Guide
- Bogotá Travel Guide
- Medellin Travel Guide
- Santa Marta Travel Guide
- Cartagena Travel Guide
- La Guajira Travel Guide
- Llanos Travel Guide
- Providencia Travel Guide
- Coffee Triangle Travel Guide
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