There is an incredible and almost magical place in the department of Santander, in a town called Guadalupe. It can be found only four hours away from Bucaramanga, and five hours from Bogotá by car.
This brook/creek is a hidden gem, a natural attraction. Describing this place and put it into words can surely be tricky. Las Gachas is made out of rock formations that leave spectacular holes/craters where crystalline water runs through. Being without a doubt a great work of nature, it is located 1460 meters above sea level and has a temperature that ranges around 30 degrees Celsius.
Funded in 1717, Guadalupe is a small and quiet town, with houses painted in white and green, showing beautiful plant pots with flowers hanging from the walls outside them. The main square in the city has about sixty palm trees that surround it and gorgeous gardens. The church Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, built with an infinity of details and with carved stone, is considered one of the most beautiful churches in the country. Guadalupe's economy is based mainly on agriculture and livestock.
The most common route to get there from Bogotá is through Oiba. You can take a bus in Bogotá that costs around 10 dollars and takes about five hours- almost any bus with the route Bogotá-San Gil will take you to Oiba as well. Once in Oiba, there are trucks that leave three times in the morning towards Guadalupe, and a ride of one hour and a half costs around 3 dollars. Alternatively, take a direct bus that leaves once per day in the night time; it costs approximately 20 dollars and takes you to Guadalupe in 7 hours.
From Bucaramanga, there is a bus that goes to Guadalupe and leaves once per day at 1:30 pm; it costs 10 dollars. You can also take a bus to Oiba for about the same price or a bit less, depending though on the time of the year. And then choose one of the trucks that go from Oiba to Guadalupe.
The cobblestone road to Las Gachas is well marked, so it is easy to get there walking by yourself. You can also use the help of a map or a guide to get to the creek if you wish. From Guadalupe, you walk along the road until you reach a gas station located at the entrance of the town- there you will find a sign indicating the detour to Las Gachas. The trail is marked, and you need to walk around 40-45 minutes until you reach the creek. The landscape along the route is fascinating, and pastures and crops surround it.
The weather in this part of Santander is always warm, which makes it suitable to visit any time of the year.
There are over a hundred craters along the creek where you can slide, splash, and immerse yourself in the even deepest craters. They have different sizes and depths: some only fit one person, while others fit more than five people. The depth ranges from 1 to 7 meters. The color varies, and the running water takes the color of the rocks it runs through. It is usually a reddish color, while the water filling in the holes/craters is green and warm. If you are planning to walk on water through the slabs, it is advisable to wear socks since these are slippery.
This is definitely an amazing and unique spot in the world. It seems as it was a fanciful place straight out of one of Gabriel García Marquéz's stories, and it truly proves right the concept that Colombia is a land of magical realism.
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