The town of a hundred waterfalls
San Carlos is a quaint, Antioquian town in the mountains near Guatapé—only 3 hours away from El Poblado, Medellín. The town is surrounded by breathtaking nature, full of hiking trails, fincas, rivers, and over a hundred waterfalls with crystal clear water where people all over Colombia come to swim, relax, and connect with the nature around them. The citizens are affable and hospitable, and the nature is awe-inspiring—but there’s an unfortunate history to San Carlos that today’s visitors would be remiss to be unaware of.
As recent as the 1990s, there was war in Colombia. The guerrillas and the paramilitaries—two politically-charged, armed factions within Colombia—began to take control of various areas throughout Colombia, with the intention of seizing land to cultivate drugs while recruiting people to combat each other.
In 1999, San Carlos was unfortunately invaded by these groups, and the town’s innocent citizens were exposed to the tragic hostilities of the groups. This period—known as La Violencia—forced many citizens to vacate their lands in search of safety, leaving San Carlos a ghost town where only few remained.
When the war ended in the early 2000s, San Carlos initiated the Plan Retorno and with the help of the city of Medellin and the Colombian government, the town began to rebuild. Over the past decade, families, town officials, and business owners have returned to their homes, and today the people of San Carlos are happy, hardworking, and have a strong desire to continue improving the town and protecting the beautiful environment surrounding it.
Once a ghost town, San Carlos now has more than 25,000 neighborly inhabitants and has resurged as a major Colombian tourist destination. Due to its novelty however, San Carlos has yet to reach the radar of foreign travelers, and for this reason, it’s the perfect destination to experience the wondrous nature while immersing yourself in pristine Colombian culture.
See first-hand how beautiful San Carlos is on our Photos page.