Barichara has been called the most beautiful town in Colombia, and it’s really hard to argue that claim. It is gorgeous. Beautiful wide flat stone streets afford views of farms and ranches on the hills surrounding the town. This is a quiet and pleasant place with a peaceful, bohemian atmosphere that reminded me of the villages that I walked through on Spain’s Camino de Santiago.
Barichara was founded in 1741 and its real treasure is its pristine colonial architecture of white-washed buildings and red-tiled roofs. I spent an hour or two just walking the streets which have the occasional car or motor bike that passes. When I grew hungry I popped into an unmarked four-table restaurant in a family’s courtyard: the son serving, the mother taking the cash, and the father grilling meat. After lunch I stopped for a quick espresso before visiting two smaller stone churches and walking to Guane.
If you have been looking for the perfect place to write your novel, look no further. Barichara is the place for you.
The 180 year-old chunky stone trail leads for two hours to Guane, a sleepy little one-horse village. After descending off the edge of Barichara, you wind your way down switchbacks and through horse farms, small cattle ranches, and few homesteads, occasionally getting a glance of the mountains and canyon in the distance. I didn’t pass a single soul the whole way.
I stayed in Guane for three hours and it felt like an eternity. The town is lost in time and consists of only the few blocks that surround the main square. There is a church, a museum, a couple restaurants, and some souvenir shops around the central plaza. It rained while I was there and so I took shelter in a small café trying the local chicha, a fermented beverage made from maize. You shouldn’t leave without also tasting some goat and the slightly alcoholic sabajon, made from goat’s milk (similar to Bailey’s Irish Cream).
From the cemetery above town, there are stunning views towards the mountains looming over the Rio Suarez. From here you can see the Chicamocha Canyon where the route of a three-day trek leads. The trek starts in Cabrera, passing through Barichara, Guane, Villanueva, Jordan, and finally ending in Los Santos. There is food and accommodation in each of the towns. It’s a great way to combine the best of Colombia: colonial history, peaceful countryside, friendly people, and beautiful topography.