“Real” Colonial Charm


After winding our way through the tight one way streets of San Gil, where I may or may not have clipped a bus with the wing mirror, this remains a matter of debate between driver and navigator, we congratulated ourselves on deciding to stay outside of the town. Fortunately a regular bus service plied the route on the main road, allowing us to visit the nearby town of Barichara.

The plan had been have lunch in Barichara before taking a leisurely down hill stroll down the Camino Real to the town of Guane. The slight snag was that having enjoyed rather a long lazy morning sleeping late, we were potentially going to run into issues getting a bus back to our campsite from Guane, undeterred I came up with the bright idea of starting in Guane and hiking the route in reverse. This would give us more options for buses, it would also mean that we would be walking uphill rather than down in the midday sun. We arrived in the very quaint colonial town square of Guane, and after a quick circuit didn’t find any “this way to trail” signs, so we popped into a shop to ask directions and buy water, the lady behind the counter pointed vaguely across the square, we stopped and asked a few more townsfolk and all seemed to point us in the same direction. Eventually we reached a rough stone trail heading in an upward direction. Now I am pretty sure you can see where this is going (even if we couldn’t).

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My ability to get lost stretches back as long as I have been hiking. One particularly impressive early example was during my Duke of Edinburgh bronze expedition where I confidently led our team down the completely wrong valley. As luck would have it the trail led to the correct town, it was some time later whilst writing about the geological features of the valley for our presentation, that I realized nothing sounded familiar. Being only 13 at the time I had to get my parents to take me back to the scene of the crime so as to take some pictures of the correct valley to allow us to blag our way through the presentation, don’t tell the Duke, I doubt he would be too pleased.

So yes we were on the wrong trail, after ascending for an hour or so I started to feel that we were going the wrong way. This was confirmed when we popped out at a road with no further sign of the trail. It was further confirmed by the wondering looks the people from the small hamlet we had happened upon were giving us. Well bollocks, I took yet another straight forward walk and made it complicated. Turns out that the Camino Real is longer than the popular short hike between the towns, and we had ended up on a less walked portion. Technology however is a great thing, I pulled out my phone, dropped a pin in Barichara and asked it to guide me, as luck would have it the road we were stood on would lead us to our desired location, with the hike now renamed the real camino we set off for town. Eventually we intersected the well marked trail, and followed it the last 500m to town. We spent an hour or so wandering the streets admiring the town, and hunting for an eatery. We eventually settled on a lovely cafe and over a cold beer reflected on the fact that we had had a unique experience, not the run of the mill walk everyone else does, Heather seemed mildly if not wholly convinced.

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I didn’t have to wait too long for a chance to redeem myself. Villa de Leyva was next up on our agenda. Another beautiful colonial town, with a bizzarly and disproportionately large town square, it is surrounded by interesting sights. With the help of a map provided by the hostel I planned a route incorporating giant penises and fossils. We walked down quiet country lanes taking in the views, I even suspected we were 0n the right road, this was confirmed after a couple of hours walking when we arrived at El Infiernito. Along with an ancient pre Colombian solar observatory/calendar, the Muisca people also built a field of giant penises. The Muisca were either exceptionally gifted gentleman, liars, or compensating for something, whatever the reason the site quite upset the Spanish when they arrived. They were the ones who named it El Infiernito, which translates as little hell, again these Spanish chaps may be a little deluded as the statues are anything but little.

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The next stop was to visit a to El Fossil, where a museum has been built around a Kronosaurus fossil. Apparently related to the crocodile this prehistoric beasty was the size of a bus, seems to have been a day for oversized things. We left the fossil behind grabbed a couple of ice creams and began our walk back into town. We had a lovely pizza lunch overlooking the oversized (what is it with this place) town square.

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The town is packed with beautiful buildings, eateries and bars. We spent the next day or so enjoying these and the walking opportunities on our doorstep.

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Categories: Colombia, UncategorizedTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Looks like great hiking terrain. As always, love the photos!


  2. I wasn’t going to mention the Manifold valley ! Seems to me that you dont do too bad a job navigating or you wouldn’t be where you are.


  3. You are only lost if you do not know where you are, and you knew where you were. Looks amazing! xo. And yes Dan you intended to be in South America. xo


  4. Thanks for writing another update. It looks nice and warm there. On Friday night we had frost in Kingston.


  5. Good grief Daniel you make me tired. Just reading it x


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