Rafting in Medellin: an opportunity to discover the forgotten region of eastern Antioquia

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You probably don’t know this, but we’ve been wanting to go rafting in Colombia for a long time. And on a previous trip, we decided to give it a try by going rafting in Medellin! One of the 3 main spots for this activity, along with San Gil and San Agustin.

We met up with our local partner who offers nature activities around Medellin. This agency was set up by professionals of rafting who fell in love with Colombia several years ago and decided to create their own agency to help travellers discover a little paradise hidden in the forgotten region of eastern Antioquia: the Rio Samana valley!

Let’s set off on an expedition like no other… especially for Angélica… jejejej!

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.

Departure for rafting near Medellin

discover the forgotten region of eastern Antioquia

Rafting in Medellin: an opportunity to discover the forgotten region of eastern Antioquia

We meet Maël, who will be our rafting guide for the day, south of Rio Negro. We take the bus from Medellin ‘s Terminal del norte towards San Luis and, after an hour and a half’s drive, get off at La Piñuela, at the stop indicated by Maël: El Palacio de los frijoles!
We meet for coffee in the roadside restaurant where they’ve set up the agency office.

The 4×4 is ready, with all the gear, and we’re off in the direction of the Rio Calderas, a tributary of the sublime Rio Samana. Today we won’t be able to descend the Rio Samana, as there has been a landslide and access to the river is not possible. But the beauty of this region, long isolated by armed conflict and now opening up to tourism, is that there are different spots and different rivers just as beautiful and cool to raft down. So we’re not disappointed, the discovery will be there no matter what!

Once on the spot, the team around Maël prepares the equipment and inflates the raft. Meanwhile, Maël explains the basic rules for safe navigation on the river. We’ll all be equipped with life jackets and helmets for protection.

While Maël’s team members finish preparing the equipment, we head off for a short walk through the forest to the starting point for the rafting trip down the Rio Calderas.

Contact our local partner to do rafting in the rivers of eastern antioquia

Fight your fear of water

Rafting in Medellin

Rafting in Medellin: an opportunity to discover the forgotten region of eastern Antioquia

That’s it! It’s time to get in the boat, and the stress is starting to build, especially for Angélica, who isn’t the most comfortable person on the water… Today she’s going to fight her fears, and that’s great! However, there’s a little problem: Angélica has forgotten to take her little magic lozenges against seasickness..

Angélica is seasick… but in a good way!
To give you an idea, when we were in Arusí on the Pacific coast, we went for a little canoe trip on a very calm, shallow river. Angélica had forgotten to take her little magic lozenges..

SEASICK TIPS

Angélica is extremely sick on the water, whether it’s at sea or on a calm river, and as soon as things start to rock a bit, it’s all over… she has a magic recipe that works every time to counteract seasickness and survive in all situations (when she doesn’t forget): a combination of Mercalm and Vogalene. Talk to your doctor!

Angélica forgot to take her pills… By the time she realized it, she was too taaaaaard!

So here we are, helmet on, paddle in hand, looking like winners, and off we go for 2 hours of rafting!

We start off with a few safety drills: how to paddle, what to do if you fall, what directions to follow, how to react in different situations, etc.

Maël and the whole team are great teachers, and we feel very safe!

Contact our local partner to do rafting in the rivers of eastern antioquia

Rafting near Medelling

Paddling on the Rio Calderas

Rafting in Medellin: an opportunity to discover the forgotten region of eastern Antioquia

And off we go! The descent begins. Generally speaking, a rafting descent always unfolds in much the same way: alternating calm waters and rapids!

The program: we’ll raft down part of the river before stopping for lunch. Then we’ll continue down the Rio Calderas until mid-afternoon.

The scenery is truly idyllic. The river is crystal-clear, lined with dense forest where you can spot monkeys and lots of birds.

Every now and then, a small waterfall or rapid appears, and the adrenaline starts pumping! The boat’s guide prepares us for the attack, telling us what’s going to happen and how to behave.

In the end, all fear goes away in the action, and it’s always pure pleasure!

We stop on a small beach for lunch. Maël had told us that they were trying to use as little plastic as possible, and above all as few single-use products as possible. The gamble paid off: each prepared dish – chicken in sauce with rice and plantains, home-cooked – is wrapped in a large banana leaf to serve as a plate. The cutlery and glasses are stainless steel, so they can be simply washed and reused.

The meal is top-notch and you leave without a trace. Not difficult to implement, you may say! Yes, but these simple and ecological gestures have not yet become part of Colombian customs.

The end of the rafting trip continues to offer us sublime, soothing scenery, as we cross a series of majestic rocks, then finish at the meeting point where the 4×4 is waiting to take us back to the starting point.

Contact our local partner to do rafting in the rivers of eastern antioquia

A snapshot of Colombia

Rafting around Medellin

And Angélica? She was a little scared, but not too much, she loved the sensations, but in fact her real problem was when the water was calm and the raft was pitching gently… mareo mareo… dio a comer a los pescados… But she survived to the finish!

Once on land, she was immediately more nauseous, she didn’t feel well and it lasted. It was what we call earth sickness. We made our way back up to the rafting agency where we were supposed to catch a bus home. That evening we had a plane (!) to catch back to Bogotá.

Seeing Angélica’s condition, one of Maël’s Colombian friends suggested we go to her house a few kilometers away to give her a rest. BEST IDEA EVER! Mutual aid, human warmth, the welcome of the Colombian people in all its splendor.

Angélica was able to lie down for 1 hour, slowly regaining her strength. Meanwhile, I made friends with Luisa, the owner of the large house where she welcomes travelers for part of the year. If you’re ever looking for accommodation in the area: “Casa del Armadillo”

As night falls, it’s time to get ready for the return journey, and Angélica wakes up feeling better. Luisa calls us a cab. We end up in a private car, as the driver doesn’t normally have permission to enter Rio Negro airport. “We’ll say we’re friends!” Colombiaaaaa, tierra querida.

THE END (and moral: if you get seasick, don’t forget your magic lozenges!)

Conclusion of our rafting day in Medellin

Best rafting spot in Colombia

Rafting in Medellin: an opportunity to discover the forgotten region of eastern Antioquia

In conclusion, it’s fair to say that we’ll remember our rafting day in Medellin! Not only for the ups and downs of the trip and the wonderful encounters with Maël and Luisa, but also because we really discovered an area we’d never been to before, where nature is particularly well preserved.

This region, to the south of Rio Negro, has long experienced the violence of armed conflict. In fact, in its misfortune, this is one of the reasons why its ecosystems have been preserved.
Today, the population is slowly regaining a taste for life, and it is now possible to discover its treasures.

The rafting agency has been working for many years to preserve the local rivers, and in particular to protect the Rio Samana from development projects. In particular, they have brought in scientists to demonstrate the richness of the valley’s biodiversity and advocate its preservation.

Every year, the agency organizes a festival to showcase the valley’s ecological and tourist potential. Also, during the festival, the agency offers free rafting “baptisms” to the local population , to change their relationship with the river, make them love it and make them want to participate in its protection.

In short: rafting in Medellin with this team is just great! The region is magnificent, the rivers are sublime, the agency works with a responsible tourism approach… what more could you ask for! Go for it!

Contacts for rafting in Medellin

Expedition Colombia (#28)

To contact our local partner in Medellin you can use the form below. You won’t pay any more, but it will let them know you’ve come from us.

IMPORTANT: If you don’t hear from our partner within 72 hours, please check your SPAMS first before contacting us.

transport from Medellin

There are two options for rafting with our local partner in Medellin:

  • The agency can pick you up in Medellin by private transport
  • Come on your own to the meeting point (like us)

In the second case, it’s very easy:

  • Terminal del Norte de Medellin: take the bus towards San Luis
  • Stop at La Pinuela – Palacio de los frijoles
  • Fare: $20.000 COP
  • Duration: 2 hours

If, like us, you need to go directly to Rio Negro airport:

  • Cab from San Luis to Airport: $120.000 COP

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Authors

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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