November 27, 2007
Besides being my failed gateway to Cocuy National Park, San Gil is quickly becoming known as the adventure capital of Colombia. The region's natural surroundings have given birth to a whole host of adventure sports, and I figured my visit wouldn't be complete without trying something fun.
I went with some people from my hostel today to a waterfall. I had already seen lots of waterfalls in South America, but this one wasn't just for looking at: It was for rappelling down. We made the short walk to the waterfall in the hot equatorial sun, then did a bit of exploring while our guide prepared his equipment. Soon we were getting a demonstration of how to handle the rope as we made our descent. Our guide said that the first rule was was to keep your legs spread apart, but I think the real Rule Number One should have been Don't Fall.
A couple of Colombians went down first. As her husband disappeared down the sheer vertical drop and his voice was drowned out by the force of the roaring water, our guide tried to calm the wife's nerves and eventually got her to go over the side. He stood cavalierly on the edge as he watched them make their way to the bottom. Next, a couple Canadian guys went down, and then it was my turn. I was paired up with an Australian girl named Rachael.
My knees started to shake as I carefully walked over to the side and looked down before being secured with my harness. Crossing the pipe that marked where the waterfall officially began was mentally tough, but I soon saw that it was indeed pretty safe and started guiding the rope as I made my way down. Soon I was drenched, but I was too busy concentrating on the slippery rocks to care. Rappelling soon became a game of chicken of sorts as we tried to get deeper and deeper into the waterfall's fury without being violently thrown about. After several minutes of bouncing about the rocks with water spraying in my face, I was down.
It was my first time rappelling down a waterfall, but hopefully it won't be my last. The adrenaline rush was so great, it seemed like I was at the bottom almost as soon as I started. Hopefully my next waterfall will be even higher so I can enjoy it more.
The photo album for this entry is here.