The south of Santander has some exceptional destinations for tourism and we've had a few day trips and one overnighter. There is stunning mountain scenery, colonial architecture, interesting food and a host of outdoor adventure activities. The Chicamocha canyon is an attraction on a grand scale and together with the area around it provides a great place to visit. Here, the Chicamocha river has cut a deep canyon into the mountains and it makes a u-turn, winding around a place called Pescadero before joining the Sogomoso River. The canyon seems to have its own climate and is much drier than surrounding areas, so there's much more cactus and desert type scrub amongst the open rocks.
At Pescadero, the road from Bucaramanga to Bogotá climbs a series of hairpins before reaching Panachi – Parque Nacional del Chicamocha – and then goes on south to San Gil. The visitors centre perched on the mountain is well worth stopping for, even if the entrance fee seems high. The panoramic views are superb.
The enormous sculpture commemorating the “Revolt of comuneros” of Santander who started an uprising against tobacco taxation in 1781, is also very impressive. The sculpture represents a tobacco leaf, on which are posed various larger-than-life size figures with dramatic expressions making it a little disturbing when you stand amongst them.
There are a few attractions in Panachi for the adrenaline junkies – two long zip-wires, a couple of very large swings which take you out over the cliff edge, a zorb track and more attractions are being developed. There is also a cable car running across the canyon for a distance of about 6km to the Mesa de Los Santos. This 25 minute each-way trip is a great way to see the canyon closer-up.