Take Time for Barichara
As the world has been forced to slow down and the future still holds so much uncertainty, I find myself pouring over old photographs, dissecting memories of trips most dear to me, remembering places which I’m glad I’m took the time to visit. Prominent among them is Barichara in Colombia – a place I barely knew a few years ago but which holds pride of place in my heart.
It takes time to get there – one of those upside-down never-ending journeys which are often the precursors to worthwhile travel experiences. First you have to make your way all the way from Bogota to the bodaciously monikered Bucaramanga. From there, you’re a 3.5 hour drive along the breathtaking Chicamocha Canyon to get to the sleepy yet vibrant town of Barichara, set against the backdrop of the mountains. But the long hours on the road are soon forgotten. Barichara is probably the prettiest town in Colombia – and that’s saying something in comparison with Cartagena itself, a veritable mirage by the sea.
Make your way slowly through town to your hotel, bumping along next to the local rickshaws, which go rattling up the hills and down the cobblestoned streets, themselves as colourful as the brightly painted doorways and shutters on the colonial-era buildings.
There are no big chain hotels in bohemian Barichara and that’s definitely part of the charm. Instead you can stay in the wondrous Casa del President, or the fabulous Yahri, a carefully curated collection of private villas, each thoughtfully decorated with beautiful terraces and privileged views.
Just make sure to give yourselves enough time to soak it all in. There are the quiet, sun-dappled cobblestone streets and piazzas to explore on foot, the colonial architecture with its vibrant colours standing out against white-washed local stone and red-tiled roofs. There’s the beautiful surrounding countryside, a adventure playground with excursions ranging from trekking, rock climbing, mountain biking, white-water rafting and paragliding.
Writing this now, at home baby-feeding and armchair-travelling, I’m glad of every minute I spent travelling to Barichara and enjoying the town and thereabouts. Perhaps that is the gift of our current situation, a reminder to slow down, to travel more closely, to base yourself in one place and to take the time to explore. My only real regret is not having returned with a rickshaw – I know the wee one would’ve loved it.
Victoria has established a serious love affair with Colombia over the past few years, so her favourites are worth paying attention to. Email her here if you want to find time for Barichara or elsewhere.