The Best Things to Do in Barichara, One of the Nicest Small Towns in Colombia
It’s fair to say I’m a bit of a colonial town fanatic. I love the cobblestone streets, terracotta tiles and ancient churches, but most of all I enjoy the sense of calm that sitting in a quiet plaza provides.
Barichara is the quintessential colonial town. We spent a few days there when travelling through Colombia and it quickly became the highlight of our trip. There aren’t that many things to do in Barichara (that’s kind of the point of visiting a laid-back town like this) but there is just enough to keep you busy, from eating (supposedly) aphrodisiac ants to hiking in the countryside.
The Best Things to Do in Barichara
Enjoy the setting
The best thing to do in Barichara is also the easiest. This small town’s charm lies in its myriad cobblestone streets, lined with a healthy dose of historic white houses and the occasional church, as well as several plazas which seem made for people watching. It’s the kind of town where you should ditch the guidebook (keep reading my post though!) and wander.
You can also walk up to the top of town and look over the countryside. There’s a little garden thing up there and it’s a nice place to go at sunset.
We were invited into the tiny kitchen of a local man who was frying up some ants. These fat-bottomed ants are a delicacy in Barichara and we were keen to try them. They tasted a bit like burnt peanuts and weren’t overly horrible. Some say they work as an aphrodisiac, but I actually felt pretty sick after eating them!
Hike to nearby villages
Assuming you’re not too sick (or otherwise engaged) from eating ants, I’d recommend a hike in the countryside surrounding Barichara. The Camino Real is a popular hiking trail linking several historic villages. It takes 2-3 days to complete, but you can easily walk a short section. We hiked from Barichara to Guane, which took around two hours and was almost completely downhill.
Guane is like a tiny version of Barichara. It makes for the most laid-back lunch spot imaginable, and after hanging around in the historic plaza you can catch the bus back to Barichara.
And that completes my list of the best things to do in Barichara. I know it’s a short list, but there isn’t much to do there except bask in the beauty of the place. Or maybe we spent most of our time in an ant and sex induced haze and missed all of the other attractions. I guess you’ll have to go there and find out for yourself.
Barichara Travel Tips
- Getting to Barichara: Barichara is a long way from most other places of interest in Colombia. We talked to lots of people about Colombia while travelling in South America and none had been to Barichara. To get there, you first need to reach San Gil (12-15 hours from Santa Marta / 6-8 hours from Bogota). From San Gil there are regular buses to Barichara (45 minutes).
- Where to stay in Barichara: There are plenty of hotels and guesthouses in Barichara and booking doesn’t seem to be required unless you’re visiting during a local holiday (Barichara is the setting for several TV dramas and is popular with Colombians). We found a room in a picturesque old villa (40,000 COP) — it was small but very clean and well appointed. There are probably dozens of similar places, so hit the streets and look for a deal!
Are you planning a trip to Colombia? Will you be adding Barichara to your itinerary? Let me know in the comments below!