Medellin's consistent climate make it ideal for active traveling. The city's surrounding rivers and mountains welcome world-class whitewater rafting and kayaking, breath-taking hikes, and horseback riding through coffee and chocolate plantations to waterfalls. October, the rainiest month, limits paragliding to the morning, but any of the other adventures are available year-round. The less touristic months (April to May; September to November) are a great time to visit for discounted prices.
#1 Raft the Mighty Samana River
A three-hour drive leads you to explore Antioquia’s last untouched river and rainforest, with biodiversity comparable to only the Amazon. Not for the faint of heart, this exhilarating intermediate to advanced white-water expedition charges through wild jungle and should only be led by experienced guides, from trusted outfits like Expedition Colombia.
Try out fresh tropical produce and savory, Colombian food cooked by the fire. Camp under the stars in sheltered hammocks, listen to the sounds of the tropical rainforest and relax by tropical lagoons and waterfalls.
Learn about the traditional fishing and gold-mining practices by locals, who suddenly appear with a big smile on their face at the site of a raft in such wild country. Hike to waterfalls or cliff-jump of rocks into swimming holes. Finish at the village of Narisses, which marks Pablo Escobar’s infamous escape routes.
#2 Hike Páramo de Belmira National Park
After a two-hour drive, enter the most psychedelic ecosystem in Colombia: high-altitude páramo. Somehow alpine tundra here looks like a coral reef flipped on high-altitude terrain, with a diversity of rare plants and colors like you’ve never seen.
Discover fields of blossoming cactus flanking alpine lakes. As if falling from the sky, a dramatic waterfall appears in the clouds. Stunning panoramic views of Andean mountain ranges get your head spinning. This beginner-intermediate hike is not to be missed. It will get your heart pumping, even with the option for mules to pack gear.
If you become a páramo addict, have no fear. The Nevado de Santa Isabel trek, a bit farther away from the city than Belmira, offers a breath-taking three- day hike through jagged peaks and páramo ecosystem.
#3 Explore the Green River Canyon
The Green River Canyon is the perfect launching pad for multi-sport adventure. You can do a 3-day trek through a rainforest canyon.
You can raft Colombia’s Green River, “Rio Verde”, a pristine river chock-full of pools of fish and white-water rapids. You can kayak in the big, fun waves and swim in the safe, wide pools of the Green River, “Rio Verde”.
You can horseback ride throughout the mountainous rim of the canyon with hard-working Antioqueno cowboys, or share a cool drink with sugarcane and coffee farmers along the way. You can find a friend in the local fisherman, who’ll lend you his rod in typical Colombian generosity so you can enjoy casting into this translucent river. Re-charge on hearty Colombian countryside cooking to fuel your next adventure.
#4 Paraglide over Medellin
Medellin boasts world-class paragliding sites (the city is ringed by Andean peaks). The beauty is that some of the best sites are only twenty-five minutes by drive, or about forty-five minutes via metro and bus, from the city center. The scene boasts a few expert paragliding pilots, including the larger than life personality of “Ruben Fly”.
Within one flight, you can spiral above a jungle waterfall or glide over the city’s hippest neighborhood. It not only gives you a thrill, it gives you a great deal of perspective as to why Medellin was named the most innovative city for its urban development.
From the sky, you can see green parks and art monuments sprouting up between clay-colored high-rises. The mountains naturally aid the city’s plan to limit urban sprawl. As you land, you may hear music bumping from a corner-side bar or one of the cities festival grounds, or catch a glimpse of the graffiti art exploding in urban spaces.
#5 Day-Trips just outside of Medellin
If you’re looking for an active escape from Medellin’s weekend music festival and party scene, there are a ton of other day adventures to explore.
Drive 45 minutes and rock climb Medellin’s famous granite outcrop, the Peñol cliff. Drive an hour to raft or kayak Buey River or San Rafael River, two nearby river trips with beginner to intermediate white-water rapids.
Take one of a hundred of hikes to waterfalls in the city’s foothills. Hike or horseback ride through one of Antioquia’s coffee farms and sample some seriously quality 100% Colombian coffee.