Visit Juan Curi travel guide: the most beautiful waterfall in Santander?

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Is Juan Curi the most beautiful waterfall in Santander? We’ll try to answer this critical question in this post, which will look back on our discovery of this, it has to be said, rather magical place, a few km from San Gil.

Colombia is known as the country of a thousand waterfalls… well, we’re making that title up, but it’s true that you’ll almost always find a waterfall to discover nearby.

What’s certain is that if you go to Santander, you’ll see that the department is particularly well-stocked with waterfalls lost in the forest and where it’s good to swim!

Disclaimer: we apologize in advance for any grammatical or syntactic errors, as our native language is not English (we're a Colombian-French couple), so we hope you'll forgive us and still enjoy the information we share with you! Please note that all the information on our blog is based on our own experience, and is checked and updated regularly.

On the way to waterfall Juan Curi

One of Santander’s most beautiful waterfalls

Visit Juan Curi travel guide: the most beautiful waterfall in Santander?

As you’ll have noticed from the subtitle, we’ve already started to calm things down… because talking about the Juan Curi waterfall as THE most beautiful waterfall in Santander seems a little presumptuous. First of all, like colors, it’s all a matter of taste. Secondly, there are so many waterfalls in Santander that we’d have to go and check out the competition to really be able to draw up a list of winners.

But in the end, it doesn’t really matter whether it’s more or less beautiful than this or that other waterfall. What really counts is that the Juan Curiwaterfall is a sublime waterfall! No one can take that away from it.

We’ve just arrived from Barichara, where we’ve spent two idyllic days in this beautiful village (a must-see, by the way). With our rental car, it’s super easy to get around the area and get the most out of it. We pick up Angélica’s uncle, who lives in San Gil, and head for the Juan Curi waterfall a few kilometers to the south.

On site, there’s a parking lot, restaurant, refreshment bar, changing rooms and toilets, all designed to welcome tourists. It has to be said that the Juan Curi waterfall is clearly a hot spot on a visit to Santander and one of the most popular activities around San Gil.

We pay the entrance fee, then take the hiking trail to the site of the first waterfall. And here you’re thinking, but… if there’s a first waterfall… does that mean there’s also a second waterfall??? Exactly. But don’t be impatient, let’s get on with the story.

The path to the site is fairly easy, climbing gently through the forest, and in about half an hour we reach our goal!

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Juan Curi Waterfall, first slap in the face

Nice waterfall for a swim

Visit Juan Curi travel guide: the most beautiful waterfall in Santander?

When we arrived, we had to admit that we were all smiles, and it would be hard to take our smiles off for the rest of the day..

The site of the first Juan Curi waterfall is truly exceptional: a kind of small green cirque where luxuriant vegetation clings to the rock, a small cirque from the top of which a waterfallsome 80 m high waterfalls down to a perfectly round waterhole, where you can bathe without danger..

The impression is truly one of being in a magical place! Urban legend has it that a meteorite fell here… we don’t believe it at all, of course… On the other hand, we do know that the site was sacred to the indigenous peoples, possibly for ceremonies performed by the Guanes caciques.

We quickly set down our belongings, put on our bathing suits and splash about! It’s impossible to resist the temptation to swim in this idyllic spot. Juan Curi may not be the most beautiful waterfall in Santander, butit’s definitely worth the detour..

The water is cool and a real blessing after walking in the heat. For those looking for free balneotherapy, head for the natural steps where the bottom of the waterfall comes crashing down… a delight!

But be warned: most of the waterhole is not that deep, so diving is not allowed! If you do, you could end up with a broken head..

We’re lucky, there’s no one around, apart from a couple coming up behind us. We’re having the time of our lives. Depending on the season, vacations and weekends, the Juan Curi waterfall can become quite busy.

For those who’d like a little more adrenalin, it’s possible to abseil from the top of the waterfall. Incidentally, in low season, if you want to do any of these activities, it’s best to call ahead and make a reservation. We weren’t able to try anything out, as the guides were leaving just as we arrived!

And now it’s time to reveal the second part of our expedition!

The Gran Salto of Juan Curi

The second waterfall

Visit Juan Curi travel guide: the most beautiful waterfall in Santander?

Grabbing our gear, we retrace our steps back to the finish and quickly turn off onto a path that climbs steeply up the slope. It’s the path to the top of the first waterfall that gives us another surprise we weren’t prepared for.

The images of the Juan Curi waterfall that come to mind are mostly those of the bathing basin. But rarely those of the grand salto Juan Curi, the highest waterfall on the site.over 130 m high.

The path is more difficult, climbing quite steeply at times, and there are ropes to help the hiker pull himself up by the strength of his arms. But the effort pays off.

When you get up there, you discover a sort of mini valley, more bucolic, there’s no… And in the middle, a river flows, with at the bottom a second, more distant and higher cirque from which a long, multi-storey waterfall pours down. You’d expect the waterfall to be more or less impressive, depending on the era and the quantity of water, but the site itself is truly ma-gni-fique.

We won’t make it all the way to the foot of the big waterfall, but we’ll just stand there, contemplating the landscape… There are water holes where you can also swim, big rocks where you can laze around, and then the abseiling station that plunges sheer down through the first waterfall below.

For those looking for a little more adventure, it’s also possible to abseil down the big waterfall!

Where to stay near Juan Curi

Local accommodation

It is possible to stay on site. There are cabañas that you’ll need to book 1 week in advance, as well as tent pitches.

Where to stay in San Gil

San Gil, the best hotels

Meraki Boutique Hotel


Meraki Boutique Hotel

Double room : $100.000 to $150.000 COP

The Meraki boutique hotel is located 5 minutes from the town center, a little way up in San Gil, offering a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains. It’s a beautiful colonial house, beautifully decorated and full of color! You’ll feel right at home here, thanks in no small part to the warm welcome from Felipe and his family.

San Gil, the best hotels

La Provincia Lodging House


La Provincia Lodging House

Dormitory : $0 to $25.000/Double room : $0 to $100.000 COP

La Provincia in San Gil is one of the least expensive hostels. Nevertheless, many budget travelers will find it to their liking: well located in the center of San Gil in a beautiful, bright house, with friendly staff… Although the rooms are basic and the decor classic, it’s still excellent value for money.

San Gil, the best hotels

Traveler Hostel


Traveler Hostel

Dormitory : $25.000 to $50.000/Double room : $0 to $100.000 COP

The Traveler hosterl in San Gil has been recommended to us by blog readers. But we’ve noticed that it’s also been recommended by the Traveler community! Large rooms, a great atmosphere, and a beautiful terrace overlooking the city, all located right in the center of San Gil.

Accommodation in Barichara

Barichara, the best hotels

Casa Canela


Casa Canela

Double room : $150.000 to $200.000 COP

A lovely hotel in a great location near Barichara’s main square. Guests appreciate the service, cleanliness and welcome. Their swimming pool is undoubtedly a plus!

Barichara, the best hotels




Double room : $100.000 to $150.000 COP

For those looking for peace and quiet, just outside the village of Barichara but relatively close to the center. Artepolis offers a really pretty setting at a very affordable price!

Barichara, the best hotels

10-day Road trip in Colombia: our itinerary from Bogota to Santa Marta by car


Oniri House

Double room : $250.000 to $300.000 COP

Hotel Casa Oniri is where we stayed during our visit to Barichara. It’s a superb boutique hotel located in the heart of the city, just a stone’s throw from Barichara’s main square. The little extra: a rooftop with a view of the cathedral!

Rates, schedules and tips

Juan Curi Waterfall

  • Admission: $12.000 COP
  • Opening hours: 8am – 5pm
  • Closure: the site is closed during the rainy season, so ask before you go.
  • Abseiling fee: approx. $75.000 COP, ask at the entrance


  • Leave early in the morning to avoid the high-season crowds that arrive at noon and in the afternoon.
  • Call ahead to reserve activities, especially in low season
  • Take walking shoes that can get wet
  • Bring a bathing suit and a change of clothes in case of emergencies
  • Don’t leave your garbage on site – take it with you!

How to get to Juan Curi

Parque ecologico Juan Curi

Getting to San Gil

The first step to the Juan Curi waterfall is to drive to San Gil, Santander’s adventure sports capital:


  • Fares: between $50.000 and $70.000COP
  • Companies: Copetran, Berlinas del fonce, Expreso Brasilia, Omega
  • Departures: approximately every hour from 0.30 am to 11.30 pm


  • Fares: between $15.000 and $25.000 COP
  • Companies: Copetran, Cotrasangil, Cotrasaravita, Trasander..
  • Departures: every hour from 0.30 am to 11.30 pm


  • Fares: approx. $7.000 COP
  • Departures: Every 30 min from 5:00 am. to 6:45 pm

Getting to Juan Curi

From San Gil, take the road to Charala:

BUS | SAN GIL <> JUAN CURI (45 min)

  • Fares: approx. $8.000 COP
  • Company: public bus to and from San Gil <> Charala
  • The bus leaves you at the park entrance. For the return journey, you’ll have to wait at the roadside for the bus to pass in the other direction.

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Angélica & Samuel

We are Angélica and Samuel, a French-Colombian couple, professional photographers and web editors specializing in travel to Colombia. We created this blog to change the image of the country, help you prepare your trip and inspire you to discover Colombia in a different way!

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