An adventure filled day in Tobia
Adrenaline, water and sports – that was my plan for a day trip to Tobia. Tobia is not far from Bogota but it took me about an hour to leave the city (yep, Bogota is huge!).
Here is why you should definitely spend a day in Tobia and my personal to do list:
Adrenaline, fun and a loooot of water
My day started at 4 am, shortly after I was in a taxi en route to the bus station Terminal de Bogotá. I bought a bus ticket from the Flota Santa Fe counter and took the 5 am bus to Tobia.
The bus station was deserted, only a couple of vendors had already opened their stalls but I did find a small breakfast for me.
Slowly the bus moves through Bogotá, people can get on wherever they want. Just give the driver a hand sign. There is also a ticket seller on the bus who shouts at people to get on the bus to Tobia. So he is more a professional barker than ticket seller.
Upon leaving Bogotá the landscape changes and the grey buildings make way for lush green woods. The road winds down the mountains and you can already feel it getting a little warmer.
After a 2.5 hour drive (and not a single minute of sleep), we reach Tobia by way of a gravel and mud road. The small village has already made a name for itself thanks to the adventures that can be experienced there. Most travellers visit for a weekend, but my goal for today is making it a day trip.
I am greeted warmly by Tobia Extreme, one of the many tour operators in Tobia. I had booked the tour in advance, but if you show up along there is always a spot available. Sending them an email or giving them a quick phone call is always good, though – better safe than sorry, right?
I chose three wonderfully exciting activities to keep me busy all day: rafting, abseiling from waterfalls and flying fox high above Tobia.
Then I am taken to the hotel San Pedro, where I can get changed and lock my belongings in a locker. And of course I can also use their pool – simply gorgeous! Shortly after I am back at Tobia Extreme and the fun is about to start:
Rafting – Cantonaje
A 4×4 takes us a few kilometres and certainly not longer than 15 minutes from Tobia. The rafts are already mounted on the roof of the off-road vehicle. We are given the shortest safety instruction imaginable and are divided into groups. I am generally not a fan of large groups or many people, but today is my lucky day. 7 rafter and one guide are allocated per boat – there are also two safety kayakers.
Quickly we get into the water. The river, in which we navigate, carries the descriptive name Rio Negro – the black river. And yes it is really black. Due to sediments, the water looks dirty but it is definitely not.
It really does not take long and I am completely wet from top to bottom – and cannot stop grinning anymore. Riding over the rapids, following the instructions of the guide, paddling like crazy and jumping into the water and floating around is so much fun.
Soaking wet and beaming we arrive after approximately 45 minutes at the exit. It was so much fun, but I could have paddled three times as long!
Through the waterfall – Torrentismo
My second activity starts immediately after I come back from the rafting: Torrentismo. The description mentioned a little hiking and then abseiling but check this out!
With a train (!!!), whose tracks Bogotá and Santa Marta once connected, we drive about 10 minutes through the quiet, green landscape. It is wonderful how nice it is here and also the otherwise loud Colombians relax and marvel. We rummage past cows, goats, cats, and chicken, and again and again I can see the Rio Negro to my right.
When we arrive, the hike starts – or rather the walk – as it is very easy. The only challenging thing is the mud, because there were heavy rainfalls in the last couple of days. Some of my fellow travellers showed up in sandals or white shoes – I can really just shake my head.
At my own pace and without the group, I would probably have been at the waterfall after less than 25 minutes, but it took us much longer. Every now and then other groups meet us and we squeeze past each other. This is often not easy as the path is so muddy and slippery and no one wants to kiss the earth voluntarily.
Finally we reach the waterfall and can see others already abseiling – whoop! I can hardly wait to get myself down there!
Equipped with a helmet and belt we climb up the slippery, almost vertical path to get to the top. No one is belayed so be super careful!
Once up, there is a fast quick instruction – the essence of it: NEVER drop out the lower hand when abseiling. No way! Because then you drop down uncontrolled and gravity will win.
I was too scared to go first but went down second and although I still am a bit scared of heights, the enjoyment and the pleasure clearly have the upper hand and gradually I make it down the first waterfall.
Before I reach the second waterfall, I have to jump from a few meters into a pool – here my inner scaredy-cat comes out again, because as long as I am attached to the rope, I feel safe but without a rope – gaaah! Different story entirely!! Somehow I can then overcome my fear and jump!
The second waterfall is a bit more exciting and challenging than the first one. My face gets splashed with water and I cannot really see where I am going but it is fun nonetheless.
Once we all made it down safely, the safety equipment is removed and I really want nothing more than to do it all over again – but unfortunately that is not possible: only once per person. Pity!
We make our way back over hedge and ditch and board the little train back to Tobia.
Flying Fox – Canopy
Before the adrenaline switch in my body is reactivated, we are served a simple but good lunch at the Hotel San Pedro. Best of all? It is included in the price!
Then I head back to Tobia Extreme, where they are already waiting for me. One of the employees walks with me through the village until we get to a small hut.
As an alternative to the Flying Fox, a giant swing is offered to me – at the top of the mountain stand two crosses of steel. On one of them is a swing attached, the rocking back and forth looks rather extreme. With a harness one gets strapped on to the swing and is pulled up to the second cross. And. then. without. a. warning. Released. I deny and decided to save this kick for my next trip to Tobia.
For the third time I am equipped with helmet and belt, and a 4X4 takes me up a mountain – actually I would have rather walked. I got to do a mini hike from where the car dropped me off.
I am positively surprised how efficient here in Tobia everything is organised – simply wonderful. (As if Tobia was clearly not part of Colombia ^^).
I am strapped into the safety equipment and off I go: from one mountain to the next, and there are plenty around Tobia. Everything is green and I cannot get enough of the view. Way too fast I reach the other side. Beneath me, I can see the village with the yellow-white church, which I hadn’t noticed before.
And then it hits me – how I am I going to get back? But of course Tobia Extreme has it all figured out. A second steel cable pulls me back to the other side.
After a quick stop, I'm already sent on my way again. My fear of heights does not even come through, so I enjoy the flight – and I'm glad to have chosen the Flying Fox and not the swing.
It’s a shame that a flight on the Flying Foxes always passes so quickly. Just as quick as my time in Tobia draws to an end I jump on the bus to make my way back to Bogota.
Why should you absolutely go to Tobia?!
I have never packed so many adrenaline filled activities in just one day and so cheaply at that. A day in Tobia cost me less than €50,– (find my cost report below).
My favourite was clearly the abseiling in the waterfall, but also the other things were amazing and varied.
So if you are in Bogotá or nearby and like to jump into the water, then off you go to Tobia!
A weekend or just a day trip to Tobia?!
You can spend a weekend in Tobia and
go horseback riding or try canyoning. But if you only want to take a day trip, it is easy.
I decided to go for the day trip and I saved money on an overnight stay in Tobia – but these are not really expensive and you can book a bed for 12 € a night. Some operators, like Tobia Extreme, offer whole packages.
How to get to Tobia from Bogotá
There are daily buses from the bus terminal De Bogotá offered by Flota Santa Fe. The first departing at 5.00 am, and if you only want to spend one day in Tobia, you should get up early and catch this bus.
The buses from Tobia back to Bogotá arrive punctually at 15:00, 17:00 and 18:00 – so best be there 15 minutes before.
How much is a day trip to Tobia?
16,000 COP bus ticket Bogotá -Tobia
110,000 COP rafting, waterfall abseiling, flying fox, lunch and use of hotel with pool
2,000 COP locker (Alternatively, you can take your own padlock)
12,000 COP Fresh juice and filled tortilla
16,000 COP bus ticket Tobia -Bogotá
= 156,000 COP, which is about 49 € for the whole day!
Important tips for adventure activities in Tobia
- The temperature is between 20-30° C
- You can pay on the spot without problems with a debit card or credit card, but 5% extra charges for card payments are added
- The website of Tobia Extreme is also available in English, but the activities were all described in Spanish only (I was also the only non-Colombian woman in all activities).
- You should bring the following:
- Sun protection
- Insect repellant
- Bikini / Swimwear
- Change of clothes (because you do all the activities in your own clothes, there is no neoprene suits for rent)
- Second pair of shoes (mine were completely soaked after rafting and abseiling)
- Or a pair of neoprene shoes – I took my diving boots
- There is a small restaurant across the road from the Tobia Extreme office – I cannot remember the name of it but the food there was to die for!
Have you been to Colombia? I've heard that it's supposed to be quite chill in San Gil – do you have more tips for me?