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“Stunning” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of Rio Claro Valley

Rio Claro Valley
Ranked #23 of 172 things to do in Medellin
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Dublin, Ireland
Level Contributor
7 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Stunning”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 23 August 2013

We stayed here mid week to go caving. I thought it was absolutely stunning. We did have a problem getting there though. The bus we got from Bogota took 8 hours instead of 5 and we got to El Refugio at 8pm. It gets dark in Colombia at 6.30 which should be noted when going to El Refugio because you have to walk along an unlit road for about 15 minutes to get the accommodation. It is gated with a security guard so it is totally safe but the different sounds were pretty unnerving so I would definitely recommend making sure you get there during daylight.
Its a 10 minute walk up to the cabins (with your bags) but please stay in the cabins! They are amazing and we woke up to a stunning view. We had one quite high up which I think gave better views but lots of steps!
The staff have no English and weren't particularly helpful but there were always other travelers around to translate for us. We found the food really nice and it was better than the food we got off hotels on our trip (drinks aren't included but they weren't expensive)
The area is beautiful and we loved the caving trip. I am not the adventurous type and I was really worried about. It is about an hour hike to the cave. The guide knew I was nervous so asked me to walk with him which was really nice but I had no need to be scared. The cave is big and we never felt claustrophobic. The darkness is ok also because of the torches and the marble was cool. it was just really good fun. The birds make a really really eerie sound so prepare yourself for the sound of a woman wailing and you'll be ok! They are only at the beginning and the end of the cave. Prepare to get wet from head to toe as you jump into rockpools along the way. They sell waterproof torches there. I don't think this area would be suitable for people with major mobility issues as there are steps and uneven ground everywhere.
I didn't feel it was particularly overpriced compared to what we spent in other places.

Visited July 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank littlebella2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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English first
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Disappointing”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 12 August 2013 via mobile

The location itself is very beautiful, however it is not worth the money you pay. You can get similar experiences elsewhere for less money. The food is very basic and the accommodation had no electricity when we stayed. the staff are not overly helpful and even rude at times, like talking amongst themselves when they knew you were waiting. If you dont speak Spanish take a dictionary as there are no English translations for anything and none of the guides or workers speak English. However, the rafting was excellent and the guide was very good. This slightly made up for what otherwise was a very expensive couple of days which we wouldn't recommend on the basis that El Refugio is far too expensive for what you get.

Visited August 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank Nathryn_22
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Atlanta, Georgia
Level Contributor
52 reviews
34 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
“Amazing place!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 3 August 2013

We booked a day and night during the week to avoid the crowds. We recommend booking one of the higher rooms at the very end of the complex. A night in an open air room under the stars is amazing! I was worried about mosquitoes, but didn't see one. The hike through the cavern is something not to be missed. We're in our fifties and had no problem with the hike. There were large caverns inside and the passage never seemed too cramped. Do plan on getting wet.

Visited July 2013
Helpful?
2 Thank Carl L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Haifa, Israel
Level Contributor
51 reviews
15 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
“Where basic rustic meets amazing nature... Eco-Hotel El Refugio de Río Claro”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 8 July 2013

We arrived at the Río Claro Reserva Natural and Eco-Hotel El Refugio on a Friday morning and left Sunday late afternoon. I remembered the area as a pristine transparent green river backed by an amazingly steep and rough canyon covered by tropical vegetation and a small path that would lead you to the natural pools, up the river, up the valley, and the several natural caverns like the spectacular Cueva de los Guacharos... there was a rough but natural pathway on one of the sides of the canyon, and huge boulders every now and then where one could plunge into the river and rapids to get some adrenaline going... it was a reserve back then, but only the most adventurous would get in there... I'm talking about roughly 20 years ago.

I was delightfully surprised by how the place has turned out... still a natural reserve but with now eco-adventure-type of facilities and an amazing rustic hotel perched on one of the sides of the canyon, with no windows or glass, only balconies fully opened to the fantastic views of the canyon.. everything extremely simple but built with care and love for nature... simply amazing!
Beds and pillows are extremely comfortable and have clean linens... you have to bring your own towel though... the showers are amazing: cold, off the mountain thick calibre water pours out of them, what you need after a hot humid day of fun.

All the pathways are now carefully signed and semi-paved, still maintaining the respect for nature, with public bathrooms every now and then... everything is really cared for and one can "smell" the love for nature in there.

For river-plunging or self-river-rafting lovers, the river is still as beautiful and fun as 20 years ago... but now, there are controlled ramps with the denoted heights (5, 8 and 10m) and signs that you have to be careful at all times... the river is dangerous in times of big rains as the water can become torrential and get quite high... yes, you have to know how to swim well in order to surpass the rapids, and you have to know how to "self-raft" a river because there are many boulders that you can simply not see when floating in the water... it's risky but much fun...

When you stay at the eco-hotel, all 3 meals are included per day/night: not an à la carte menu but it is delicious local Colombian style cuisine that everybody loves, and in really good portions.

As for activities, there is rafting (Levels 1 or 2), canopy, rappel, eco-hikes, bird watching, cavern expeditions, besides private educational ecological lessons. All the guides are local young man and woman fully trained and really knowledgeable not only of their guided activity but the geological, biological and anthropological history of the region. All the staff at the hotel was really nice and helpful.

The place is full with birds, amazing butterflies and insects of all sorts... a true nature-lover spot worth discovering and experiencing in this beautiful part of Colombia.

Visited June 2013
Helpful?
4 Thank Gloria L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Bogota, Colombia
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Beautiful, Peaceful Destination”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 13 June 2013

Arrived at Rio Claro without a reservation. Claudia at the reception was very helpful in doing the check in and registering me. The view from the room in 'Las Cabanas- El Refugio' was quite beautiful. I went to bed looking out at the stars. Highly recommend the 'caverna' tour. The cave is quite wild with the river running through and you get to slide down a few short natural waterslides. I decided to extend my stay another night because the canon and river are stunning and the site is quite peaceful. Very friendly travelers I met while staying there. Bring a flashlight for the cavern tour/walking the path at night. Food is fine.

Visited June 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank Nosoyhelen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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