Dave Crerar 01/11/2016 | Posted in 2013 Karma, Canada, Creeking, Internationalisation, rivers, Trip Reports, Trips, Whitewater, WW Disciplines
The Suarez river was not on my mind when my girlfriend and I set off on our ‘off season’ trip to Colombia. We both stay pretty active kayaking or biking in the summer, whilst split boarding and guiding take over in the winter, so we were trying to escape the craziness. We had promised to just go with the flow as we didn’t think that Colombia would have the greatest adventure sports infrastructure… We were wrong.
On sound advice from some friends we flew into Bogata and straight up to San Gil. This is the adventure sports center for the northern part of Colombia, located west of the Venezuelan border. With Colombia being a popular backpacking destination there are a series of well run and operated hostels and hotels, from which you can sign up for any adventure sport you want. We used trip advisor for most of our accommodation decisions, it never steered us wrong and we stayed mainly in hostels during our trip. Doing this let us get in touch with like-minded folks and also access to the adventure sports providers.
Having found access onto the Suarez, getting onto the river without gear was not the easiest task I have presented myself. It is hard to convince these guys that you aren’t going to be a liability on the river. We found Columbia Rafting Expeditions to be the best outfit for not only gear but also access and the understanding of what I wanted to do. To my surprise, the gear was almost exactly what I have here in Canada. To Kayak I paid a little less than what I would for a day of rafting here in Canada (60 CAD) and my girlfriend went on the rafting trip. I have to say these guys ran an awesome trip, safe and multi-lingual.
The river is an incredibly high water, class five creek. Big wave trains, whirlpools, jib lines and rock gardens, enough to get me to a maximum stoke level.
Now for the bad news. Colombia is not the type of country you want to get off the plane in without a plan and the domestic flights didn’t seem too conducive to oversized luggage. A film crew was ahead of us and it took them two hours to process. If you are willing to brave the overnight bus systems, they are big enough to handle excessive amounts of gear, however contacting an outfitter like Colombia rafting to set up something is by far your best bet.
Top tip: I got dengue fever, it was brutal. Wear bug spray.
Empanada – $1
Hostel – $11 per night
Domestic Flights – $60-100
Entry to Colombia for Canadians – $100
Buses from city to city – start at $6