Back in June, for the first time, ONE Chinese ventured into Antioquia where the second biggest city in Colombia, Medellin, is found.
If you tell a Colombian about the Rio Claro of Antioquia (there’s another river of the same name in Brazil), it’s likely that they’ll tell you they’ve never heard of the natural reserve. Given that the untouched little gem holds the solid 13th ‘top experience’ on Lonely Planet, her discreetness makes her a great hideout for one of those many Colombian long weekends!
Rio Claro simply exudes positive energy and my puente turned out to be surprisingly reinvigorating! For the holiday-seekers whose definition of a holiday is doing nothing, there’s a quaint hotel (which had hostel grade in-room facilities but a resort-type landscape) where you get to wake up to the sound of seemingly hyperactive birds, recharge from nature and marvel at the greatness of life. (Although it may sound over the top, trust me that was exactly how I felt during the trip!!)
The trip’s highlight was undoubtedly Escobar’s playground which is now a theme park. Pablo Escobar, who was the 7th richest man in the world in 1989 when he stood over a mountain of illegal cash so large that allegedly cost US $2,500 worth of rubber-band a month to stack, left over a massive compound with a zoo of animals smuggled from Africa.
Keen drivers need to be ware of the deceivingly short distance between Rio Claro and Bogotá. The 254 km drive back to Bogotá (vs 152 km to Medellin) translated into an 8-hour trip because of road closure (they love road works on holidays). A tedious 2-hour wait in the middle of nowhere can net off the restorative quality of the reserve.