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  • Writer's pictureDave Jackson

How to go tubing in Palomino, Colombia

Updated: Jul 13, 2023

Palomino, Colombia is the hippy stop on the Gringo trail through Colombia. Picture people walking barefoot up the dirty main road, dream catchers as far as the eye can see and it’s hard to walk 5 meters with the pungent smell of weed on the air. There is however more to Palomino than finding your inner zen (but not much).


Many people find themselves going to Palomino for a couple of days but ending up there for a week or so, doing absolutely nothing. Realistically, other than catching a few waves, and chilling on the beach the only activity is going tubing. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about how to go tubing in Palomino.


Tubing in Palomino with our guide doing the hard work paddling with his flip flop
Tubing in Palomino with our guide doing the hard work paddling with his flip flop

What is tubing?


First up, just in case anyone doesn’t know; Tubing, is the act of floating down a river in an old truck tire. Grab yourself a rubber ring and try to find the best way to sit in it without the valve sticking in your backside.


How to go tubing in Palomino


It’s hard to walk down the street of Palomino without being offered a tubing tour. The good news (or bad depending on how you look at it) is that it seems there is now a tubing cartel, as all the agencies seem to operate on the same prices. At the time of writing this (July 2023) the prices were set at the following.


Option 1: Little to no walking and tube for 1 hour

Price COP 5,000. This option is what it says on the tin. Moto taxi for 10 minutes, get to the closest place on the river, and then float.


Option 2: Walk for 25 minutes and tube for 1.5 hours

Price COP 5,000. This option has the same moto taxi, however when you arrive you carry your tube for 25 minutes through the jungle to a place higher up the river. That then gives you 1.5 hours of tubing as you are further upstream.


Becca carrying her tube along the trail to the Rio Palomino - Rocky path surrounded by jungle. Becca with a tube on her head
Becca carrying her tube along the trail to the Rio Palomino

Option 3: Walk for 55 minutes and tube for 2 hours

Price 75,000. You guessed it, the same moto taxi. Walking up the same jungle trail for longer gives you more time on the river. Walking 55 minutes then gives you 2 hours floating, this option also includes 4 larger rapids.


What is tubing like in Palomino?


The activity starts with a fairly unsafe feeling moto taxi to the trailhead. This part is definitely something you tell your mum about afterwards. A motorbike picks you up in the centre of Palomino, you hop on the back with no helmet (standard) and you need to use one of your arms to hold your tube (unless you look as incompetent as Becca and the driver may offer to hold it for you, hooked over one of the handlebars!). The bike then sets off towards the trail head-on along a bumpy, potholed lane. Given you make it in one piece, the next step is the walk.


We opted for the 25-minute walk, as we were using Palomino as our chill-out after our Tayrona National Park overnight hike. The walk through the jungle is easy enough to do in flip-flops, just a bit sweaty as it’s hot in Palomino and the trail is all uphill and downhill, with little flat.


Tubing in Palomino isn’t like tubing in Laos, there are no bars along the river to serve you drinks whilst you meander, so you need to go prepared. The tour agency will provide you with a dry bag per person, one we used for storing our clothes etc during the float, the other for a few cold ones for the float. You can buy beers at the ticket office where your driver gets your wristband, by all means, grab them from town but they will have longer to get warm and the beers were the same price at the ticket office (COP 4,000).


At the river edge, your guide will instruct you to take off everything you don’t want to get wet and store it in your dry bag, jump in your tube, open a beer and sit back and relax. By all means, if there is a group of you, take a waterproof speaker to entertain you along the float, if not just sit back and relax.


Rio Palomino - empty river where you tube down
Rio Palomino

Things to take with you tubing in Palomino


Water - It’s hot and it’s good to stay hydrated!


Beers - Clearly optional, but helps with the experience!


Phone in waterproof case/GoPro - For all your photo needs. Your dry bag will keep your device dry but there is a risk of an accident when getting it out to take a picture.


Waterproof mini speaker - We travel with a mini speaker everywhere. This one is waterproof, small and has a handy carabiner. We didn’t actually play music on our float but other people we saw did. Depends on the vibe you want.


Summary


We really enjoyed our tubing in Palomino. We do strongly suggest you do at least the 25-minute walk as the start of the tubing was better than the end, as the jungle is more beautiful and there are a few mini rapids.


We can’t comment on the longer tubing as we didn’t do it, the benefit of that one would be 4 better rapids. We were happy with the time on our ring and we were starting to get a little uncomfortable toward the end of 1.5 hours on the river. We only tubed with the 2 of us and our guide. If you are thinking of the longer tubing I’d advise trying to get a group of you together and definitely take a speaker.


If you head to Palomino and go tubing we'd love to hear how you get on. Please let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page if any of the prices changes so we can update them for future travellers.


Happy travels!


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