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La Pacha Hostel San Gil Santander | Colombia Backpacking


La Pacha Hostel

La Pacha Hostel
KM8 Via San Gil-Barichara, San Gil, Santander (7km from San Gil)
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Overview: San Gil's La Pacha Hostel is located just 20 minutes northwest of the city, on the property of Finca Bella Flor, a large coffee and cattle farm. It's very accessible from both San Gil and Barichara, and definitely deserves a stop during your backpacking and tourism adventures in Santander.

It's close enough to the city that you can easily enjoy a jaunt into the city for a night on the town, but far enough away that you really have the opportunity to appreciate the land and its beauty. Up and running for just a couple months, La Pacha is sure to quickly become a favorite on the backpacking circuit between Bogota and the Caribbean Coast.


Neighborhood: This is rural Santander farm country pure and simple. You're surrounded by farms and vineyards on all sides, although it's just a 10 minute walk down the hill to the main road, Via San Gil-Barichara, where you'll find a couple of small stores, bars, and restaurants.

How to Get There: If you're interested in booking a stay at La Pacha, all roads lead through San Gil. When you're in San Gil, head to the Terminalito (not the main terminal, but the little terminal that goes to the surrounding towns), and buy a ticket to Barichara. The Terminalito is located on the corner of Carrera 11 with Calle 15, right next to the main bridge over the Rio Fonce.

Buses leave San Gil from 6am to 8:15pm. Tell the bus driver that you want to get off at Via Aeropuerto Los Pozos, which is 7km along the route to Barichara. It helps if you keep your backpack and all personal items with you, so that you won't have to delay the other passengers while the driver goes into the trunk to retrieve your luggage.

On the right hand side, you'll see a large billboard (first picture in the article) and a road sloping upward. Head 700km up the hill, and you'll come to the Hostel La Pacha sign. Pass through the opening on the right side of the gate, and it's just another 100m to the tranquil paradise of La Pacha!

Alternatively, if you want to take a taxi, it's really simple as well. Just tell a taxi driver that you want to go to La Pacha in Vereda la Flora, and they'll take you to the gate for just $12.000. It should be less than 15 minutes in a taxi.

To get to San Gil, you can either take a bus north from Bogota (about 7 hours) or Tunja (about 4 horus), or take a bus south from Bucaramanga (about 2.5 hours) or Cucuta (about 8 hours).

Management/Staff: La Pacha is run by Justin and Andrea, a British/Colombian couple, who are delighted to show guests their little slice of heaven. 

Rooms: La Pacha offers a variety of private and shared rooms to accommodate guests. If you're interested in camping, there's also a "Mirador" up a path a short distance from the hostel.

Shared Rooms: There is currently one four bed dormitory, with a second dorm (which will be dome-style) under construction. The four bed dorm is located next to the kitchen, and also offers lockers for you to store your things.

Private Rooms: One of the things that really sets La Pacha apart from the competition is the novelty of the lodging: here is one of the few places where your options include a yurt and a dome. Basically, they are structures with wooden frames and canvass coverings, with dirt floors. Just steps away, you have both a "traditional" bathroom, including a shower with hot water, and a more ecologically conscious option: a green toilet a shower, which uses a solar-powered coil to heat water. You can enjoy a hot shower without feeling guilty about it.

The yurt and the dome are true delights. They have flaps that zip up and down so that you can enjoy a peaceful night's rest without insects. But they also have windows built into the sides, so you can enjoy a nice breeze during the heat of the day. The beds and mattresses are top-notch and extremely comfortable, and each room comes equipped with colorful rugs, nightstand and lamp, and a power strip for plugging in and charging all of your electronics. Best of all, there is high quality, high speed wifi that reaches the entire property!


Amenities: Just because you're in the middle of Santander farm country doesn't mean you have to forgo creature comforts and technology on your vacation. There are plenty of options to keep you busy and happy during your stay; you'll never be bored!

Guests will be pleased with the combination kitchen/dining room. It's large and has a wide variety of pots, pans, and utensils. If you wish, you can also buy a wide variety of basic food staples in the camp store, such as rice, pasta, cooking oil, nuts, vegetables, and chocolate. You can also buy any toiletries you might have run out of, like shampoo, soap, or toothpaste; and best of all, everything is sold at very reasonable prices.You also have the option of arranging some or all of your meals during your stay.

Justin and Andrea whip up some very good food, all vegetarian, including shepherd's pie, pasta dishes, and curries.

For entertainment options, head to the bus. Yes, it's a real bus that Justin has converted into a TV lounge and library area. Here there's a flat-screen TV, selection of DVDs, a book exchange, and a small library that you can borrow books from. There's also a great selection of boardgames, including Settler of Catan, Risk, and Charades.

Spending time with the animals is a must. Make sure to go spend some time watching the cows, and enjoy the goats. You may also get to see Justin milk them, or sample some of his fabulous goat cheese spread, with lemon and herbs.

Ornithologists have also identified over 40 species of birds that you can observe on the grounds. Colombia Backpacking provides you with a photo guide here: Birdwatching Guide

The farm/hostel is teeming with plants and fruit trees: mangos, oranges, limes, coffee plants. If you're interested, a very fun activity is making your own orange juice. Head down the road about 50m, and on the right you'll see a large orange tree. Climb up into it, and vigorously shake the tree's branches (it's not possible to shake the tree from the ground). Then, fill up your bag. You'll notice that the oranges that have been lying on the ground (which you don't want to collect) are warm, while the recently fallen ones are cool to the touch. Gather about 100 oranges, wash them, and then slice as many as you want in half. You can then use the juicer to prepare a batch of delicious orange juice. The oranges are so sweet and tart, that you'll want to dilute the juice with 1 part water to 3 parts juice. As a general rule of thumb, 10 oranges is typically about 1 serving of juice.

Another interesting activity is heading to the nearby vineyard, to watch the harvest or "cortada" which takes place every Friday, in season. Ask Justin to point you towards the path. It's a 10 minute walk through beautiful forests to the vineyard. Head to the main house, and they'll be happy to give you a quick tour. Basically, the grapes are cut in bunches, and then placed in large plastic containers called arrobas, and then taken to grocery stores all over Santander. They'll also sell you their delicious grapes for just $1.500 a pound!


Conclusion: La Pacha Hostel is a great place to get off the beaten track a bit, and enjoy a couple of days experiencing nature in this beautiful part of Colombia. Justin and Andrea will quickly make you feel right at home, and there's a lot of interesting things to do and see on the property. Also, if you're interested in working, considering speaking with them about their volunteer program. 

Most backpackers in Colombia in one way or another are working their way betwen the altiplano or central Colombia (Bogota, Medellin) and the Caribbean Coast (Santa Marta, Cartagena). As tourism continually expands in Colombia, places like La Pacha provide welcome alternatives to the largely urban hotel and party hostel experience

La Pacha Hostel comes highly recommended by Colombia Backpacking!





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