Tuesday, December 7, 2010

El Dorado International Hostel - San Gil, Colombia


I think what it is to be a backpacker has gotten lost along the way. Travellers have more money and need more amenities. Locations become popular and prices increase. Hostels are now budget resorts for the traveller with restaurants, bars, guest kitchens with granite counter tops, big screen TVs, WIFI, pool tables and poker tables. All these things are fantastic and great for the traveller on limited time. You are able to meet people quickly and have a good party. No matter how much more money I have now than I have had travelling in the past deep down I will always be that budget traveller living on 5euros a day in Egypt or $10 a day in Central America. I have the money but it’s just not backpacking when you are staying in a place that is more sterile than a Hilton. ..Perhaps I am a bit odd but I like non-westernized countries for a reason.

I was recommended the El Dorado hostel in San Gil and it is exactly the place I like to stay in, simple, quiet, run by locals, an excellent price, very chilled out and has a hostel dog. I have decided on my Gringa trail scale of hostels having a dog give you an automatic 10 point bonus especially a boxer puppy like Mikey in El Dorado.

The hostel is quite new, you will not find it in the lonely planet which also helps it charm. I stayed in a 3 bed dorm room for 15 000pesos ($8) and actually had the whole room to myself during my stay. The decor is minimal with murals in the waiting on the walls. The common area has one big hammock with a few cushions, a TV and a laptop with free internet. There is a sunny area in the back to lounge in but it was mostly used to dry wet dirty clothes after an adventurous day. The hostel wasn’t really busy it seemed most people head to the other two hostels in town that are far swankier. I told the Swiss guy that was on my bus I quite preferred my hostel the others were actually too nice and slightly pretentious. I mean hostels should be simple and it’s the owners and the people who work in them that make them what they are.

Two Colombian brothers own El Dorado Miguel and Luis and I was surprised to find out they had spent a lot of time living in the UK. The one brother that took us on our tour told us he taught economics for a long time in London. His English is fantastic although he doesn’t have a British accent at all. He is very knowledgeable about San Gil, Santander and all of Colombia and he seems very passionate about where he is from. I think it is fantastic that he returned to Colombia to open this hostel where he can educate people about Colombia and show them what it has to offer. A lot of people left Colombia because of the wars and troubles it had in the past. Some will never return to see what has become of this beautiful country. It is slowly rebuilding itself and it is people like the ones at El Dorado that are helping it do so. I felt so comfortable there, that after having a leisurely lunch with Luis and Miguel and having a good chat about the fantastic fruit and food in general in Colombia I almost missed my bus onto Villa de Leyva. They are genuine and really make all of their guests feel welcome and feel like they have a home in San Gil.


What this hostel doesn’t lack in is adventures like the one I described in my last posting, La Antigua Cannoning, caving and rappelling. San Gil is where to come to in Colombia for thrills and these guys are the experts!

El Dorado International Hostel

Calle 12# 8-55 San Gil, Colombia

eldoradohostel@hotmail.com Tel: 7-7237588 Cel: 3115095844

El Dorado Expediciones

La Antigua – in this tour you go caving in an ancient cave the indigenous of the area lived and now is home to various species of bats. You are able to crawl through tunnels and climb through water to navigate the cave. You also do some cannoning which is light climbing through a dry river bed. You rappel down waterfalls of 40meters and 10 meters, free jump and rock climb. This tour includes transport, snacks, water, equipment, insurance and a guide. Cost: 80 000pesos

Bicycles – You can rent by the hour for 6000pesos, by the day for 25 000pesos or take a bike tour to the Juan Curi 70m high waterfalls for 30 000pesos.

Rafting – all different levels from 30 000 – 200 000pesos

Paragliding from 60 000 – 170 000pesos

Caving – various different tours all around 30 000pesos

Other adventure options - Motor bikes, quad bikes, bungee jumping, horseback riding.

4 comments:

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  3. Nice blog! I love this hostel very much. I will definitely visit and stay to that place.

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