Making our way down through Colombia with our two good friends, Alina and Jim, turned out to be more difficult than we first thought. We were used to being in Central America where the countries are tiny compared to down south! It took three hard days of driving to leave the most northern point of Colombia and make it back to civilization. Our goal was for the four of us to have one last big camp out and party for AJ’s birthday before we separated. Jim and Alina planned to go to hiking in El Cocuy and we were travelling on to meet up with AJ’s mom Fiona and his little brother Sean.

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Took the camper off the truck for a hot minute to run around San Gil, Colombia.SATRIP_2014_AJ_Smollen-199

The only proper place to celebrate AJ’s birthday was the adventure capital of Colombia, San Gil. Our camp spot was up on the side of a mountain overlooking the city, which was surprisingly big! This was our first taste of big mountains and gorgeous canyons. San Gil offers outdoor adventures for almost anything you can think of. We decided to go paragliding in the vast Chicamocha canyon. It was fantastic! Our guide was really fun and he took us each up one at a time and at the end of our flight he asked if we like adrenaline and once we said yes he sent us shooting back down to earth doing corkscrews toward land. Feeling like we hadn’t had enough adrenaline we signed up for white water rafting the next day.

We started AJ’s birthday right with breakfast and mimosas, or as our british friends call them, Bucks Fizz. Then headed to town to catch our ride to rafting. AJ and I go rafting all the time back in Colorado but nothing prepared us for this! Our guides name was Red Bull and he told us that he had just competed in the South American World Cup of rafting. He let us do what no company in America would get away with, from jumping off cliffs to jumping in and riding the rapids in just our life vests! It was so much fun!! Hard to say which was better, the paragliding or the rafting.


We ended the night back at our base camp. It was basically a little hippie commune with yurts and tepees and a few old buildings they had converted to kitchens and rooms. They also had an old chicken bus that worked as the hangout, tv room. The four of us decided to utilize the outdoor pizza oven and ended up cooking for almost everyone there! It turned into an impromptu party. The owner then ended the night by giving AJ fresh banana bread with cream sauce for his birthday cake. A perfect end to our travels with Alina and Jim, and definitely solidified our love of Colombia!