Samana Fest

Supported by International Rivers, Samana Fest reunited more than 2,500 people in favor of the protection of the Río Samaná Norte, the last free flowing river in the eastern region of Antioquia, Colombia.

Last week, the sixth edition of Samana Fest was celebrated near Medellin, Colombia. This event, which took place from the 11th to the 17th of March, was an unprecedented success and represented an important step towards the union of the villages, local communities and national and international athletes in favor of the protection of the Río Samaná Norte, the last free flowing river in the eastern region of Antioquia.

The festival brought together more than 55 kayakers from Colombia, Ecuador, France, Spain, Canada, the United States, Switzerland and Germany, marking the first international kayak competition in Colombia. The qualifiers, held on the Río Calderas, a tributary of the Río Samaná Norte, within the jurisdiction of the municipality of Cocorná, included an exciting individual race against the clock and a challenging extreme slalom. Among the highlights, Eric Deguil of France became the winner of the first whitewater marathon ever organized, while Tyler Bradt of the USA and Jules Domine, Colombo-French, shared second place.

The culminating point of the competition was the first marathon ever organized, where the participants started simultaneously from the Samaná bridge in San Luis, to the Narices waterfalls in Puerto Garza, San Carlos. This incredible 42 Km stretch of class 4 whitewater provided for a unique race course, with a 5 KM section of class 5 at the end which only the top 10 competitors were allowed to paddle due to the difficulty! Among the winners, we again highlight Eric Deguil, Tyler Bradt, and Jules Domine, along with the presence of two Colombians in the top 10, Andres Perez de Santander and the Cocorná local, Christian Henados. Nouria Newmann, the only woman to participate in this event, stood out by finishing in 8th place.

To celebrate the competition, the local community organized a parade in honor of the river, followed by cultural presentations and themed balls held by children from the region, highlighting the deep connection between the communities and the river, as well as the invaluable ecosystem and food security that it provides to the region. We appreciate the commitment of the Alcaldía de San Carlos to protect the river and its support in organizing the festival.

The festival concluded with a historic concert in honor of the Río Samaná, which took place in the main park of San Luis. Local artists such as Universo y la Raza Hip Hop, together with Animalejo Live Band, Astroria y Hombre Solar y Sistema Solar, provided an energetic and emotional musical experience. Among the presentations, Walter Hernández from Sistema Solar called at the national level for the protection of the Río Samaná Norte. The night culminated with the performance of Rasta Boy and DJ Abel Viro, which ended the event with great energy.

The commitment of civil society and the watershed’s municipalities towards river protection will be reflected in the up coming large-scale communication campaign to promote the creation of a new protection mechanism dedicated to rivers. We invite the country’s environmental and political authorities to join this initiative and support the desires of civil society to guarantee that the Rio Samaná Norte can continue flowing freely from to the Magdalena!

Samana Fest 2024 thanks the NRS brand for its support in the competition, as well as Expedition Colombia for organizing the event. We also extend our gratitude to the alcaldías of San Luis and San Carlos, the Mirador del Samaná, the rafting companies of the region, the National Police, the Army and the Bomberos, as well as Lightroom and Juan Diego Gallego for their musical contributions, to all participating artists, volunteers, Cumbres Blancas and International Rivers for their support.

We celebrate the success of Samana Fest 2024 and look forward to next year to continue promoting the protection of the Río Samaná Norte and the development of sustainable eco- touristic activities. An applause for the local communities and for the Río Samaná! See you soon at Samana Fest 2025!

Photos credit: Jules Domine / AADO Media