Medellín Outdoors

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Medellín Outdoors
From climbing trees and walking through fabulous flora to endurance cycling and night rides, Medellín has an abundance of activities to energize. Don't miss cave exploring, white water rafting, and paragliding in the surrounding areas.
By Simon Willis, AFAR Local Expert
Photo by Simon Willis
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    The Beautiful Game
    Colombia is just as mad for soccer as Brazil and Argentina, and Medellín is no exception. Every night floodlit pitches are filled with locals and foreigners battling it out, while weekend hangovers are washed away in morning matches. Señor Gol, on Las Vegas Avenue, has five turf pitches and is a popular place to play. For those who want to take in a match, the Estadio Polideportivo Sur is in Envigado; for the liveliest atmosphere, try to attend the feisty el clásico between Nacional and Medellín.
    Photo by Simon Willis
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    Parque Arvi
    Medellín’s surrounding mountains provide ample opportunities for outdoor explorations and extreme sports, none more so than Parque Arvi. To access this natural park get off at Acevedo Metro and transfer to the K Line, or get to Santo Domingo Metro and transfer to the L Line. Either way, you'll hook up with the Metrocable (cable car) to get you into the park. Once at the top, bikes can be rented and used to access the forest trails and the huge lake at Piedras Blancas. Here, people get out on the water in sail boats and pedal boats, while the daring fly over the top on zip lines. Visit the Comfama adventure park to try manual zip-lining and scaling vertical trees with the assistance of a harness.
    Photo by Oscar Garces/age fotostock
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    Cycling Medellín
    With a range of nighttime rides, weekend routes, and BMX parks, Medellín has plenty of options for cyclists. Join the Lycra-clad road-biking crowds cycling up the winding Las Palmas Avenue from 5 to 8 a.m. every day. On weekends, mountain bikers meet at the San Diego mall gas station and carpool up the mountain for a day off-road. If you're more interested in urban biking, join El Colectivo Siclas at Carlos E Park on Wednesday evenings for a nighttime ride, or hit Avenue Poblado on a Sunday—part of the street is closed off for cyclists and joggers enjoying the Ciclovia.
    Photo by Felipe Mesa/age fotostock
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    Caving at Río Claro
    Recent security improvements have opened up many natural reserves, with the Río Claro Valley being one of the finest. Just a three-hour drive from Medellín, Río Claro is a secluded spot where outdoor activities and extreme sports are the definite highlight. As well as hiking and zip-lining, you can tackle the river in a raft or kayak, and bird-watchers will appreciate the avian abundance. Don't miss trekking the Guácharo cave, but note that a decent level of fitness and swimming ability is required. There are accommodation options for those wanting to stay overnight.
    Photo courtesy of Daniel Mulhemann/Cañon del Río Claro Reserva Natural
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    Enjoy the Views while Paragliding
    A marvelous way of taking in the spectacular views of the region is to soar from one of the area's peaks with the aid of a parachute. San Felix, just a 50-minute drive from Medellín in the city of Bello, is the most popular take-off point for paragliding, although other bases include Santa Fe, Damasco, and Pantanillo. Many companies organize trips, such as Zona De Vuelo, while Parapente Medellín offers tuition for those who catch the flying bug. Cloud cover varies at certain times of the year so morning or early afternoon is usually the best time to take off. And if you want a different kind of aerial adventure, a number of companies in Medellín offer bungee jumping.
    Photo by Diomar Arenas
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    The Breathtaking Landscape of Guatapé
    It's well worth venturing outside of the city to see what the countryside around Medellín has to offer. Guatapé is a two-hour drive away, and is a traditional Antioque town with colorful buildings and tiny streets. Before you enter the town, you will pass El Peñol Stone, a monolithic formation which can be scaled thanks to the tight stairs etched into its side. Be warned that there are hundreds of steps, so if the views don't take your breath away, the climb might. Guatapé is on a lake, and various water sports are available throughout the year.
    Photo by Simon Willis
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    Drink In the Coffee Triangle
    Caldas, Quindío, and Risaralda—three departments in the region—make up what is known as Eje Cafetero, or The Coffee Triangle. This area enjoys a perfect climate for producing the most delicious coffee beans; over time, the superlative product has begun to attract tourists. One of the major cities in the region is Pereira, where many local coffee producers open their doors to people wanting to learn about the process. Café Especial Don Manolo is one such family-run company, and visitors will be taken through each step of the growing, harvesting, and processing of their beans. The region is about five hours away by bus; flights are available from the airstrip in Medellín.
    Photo by Simon Willis
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    Hike in the Cerro El Volador Eco-Park
    Away from the hustle and bustle of the city is Cerro El Volador, an eco-park very much undiscovered by tourists. This area, located in the north-east of the city near the University of Antioquia, has undergone major redevelopment and is now a thriving getaway for cyclists, walkers, and those wishing to take in the astonishing views of the city. A winding road leads up the mountain, after which you take a short walk to an area where small cafés and street vendors supply refreshments. Walking trails lead up to the grassy peak and bike tracks skirt the outside. Good walking shoes are recommended, and be warned that the hike is not for the faint-hearted.
    Photo by Simon Willis
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    Family Fun at Parque de las Aguas
    For pure family fun in the sun, check out Parque de las Aguas, a water park just north of the city on the highway leading to Barbosa. With multiple environments that vary from relaxing to scream-inducing, the park is right for all tastes. Those looking to loaf can sink into a rubber dinghy and spend the afternoon bobbing around the lazy river, while thrill-seekers can head to the rapids that toss you around in near pitch-black. Want a bit of both? The enormous main pool remains sedate until the wave machine is cranked up. Be warned that on Sundays and national holidays, the place is extremely busy.
    Photo courtesy of Parque de las Aguas