Adventurous Colombia: Cabo de la Vela and Punta Gallinas

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When people told us that it would take time to reach Cabo de la Vela, they were not joking. Come on, this cannot be that bad, this is only 400 kilometers, we thought. It turned out that everything, up there, goes much slower than in the rest of the country. It took us three days, 2 buses, 1 taxi and 1 jeep to cover the distance. From delays to delays, we had to capitulate and accept that we wouldn’t make it in one day. C’est la vie! But hey, we all know that there is no adventure without adventure! 

Our overnight in Santa Marta was a big disappointment. Featured in our Lonely Planet, we expected to find a cute(ish) colonial town and we got a shock: as soon as we got off the bus, we were thrown into the hustle of a growing city. Traffic jams, construction works and dirty streets welcomed us. This was definitely not what we had hoped for. Fortunately our mood was lifted by finding some delicious street food (nothing a skewer can cure). Plus we were sure that we would reach Cabo de la Vela the next day so we were overall in good spirits. Well we had to rethink our ambitious plan. Our driver decided to turn our ‘direct‘ bus to Rio Hacha into a ‘I’m stopping every 5 minutes to pick up more passengers‘ bus, resulting in us missing our connection to Uribia. Irritated and tired, we made our way to our wish hostel but it was of course booked out. Strong believers in what’s meant to be is meant to be, we bumped into a cool German guy that 1) gave us some overnight options 2) invited us to tag along with him to travel to Cabo de la Vela. This was actually the best scenario that could have happened to us as it is obviously easier to negotiate. 

When we reached Uribia the following day, our group joined 4 Colombian travelers. It was such a fun ride and we decided to stick together and explore Cabo de la Vela and Punta Gallinas as a big family. In Cabo de la Vela we found a restaurant that happened to have hammocks on the beach and offered cheap meals. What not to like about that place? We rented motorbikes (with drivers) and for the first time in my life I didn’t act overcautiously, didn’t put proper shoes on and didn’t request a helmet! Yep, this is the new me, more a warrior than a worrier! It felt fantastic to ride on dirt roads (tho still a bit scary!), nicely exhilarating. We went to Pilón de Azucar, a hill where an incredible view over the desert was waiting for us. After another stop to check some cliffs out (so windy I was almost blown away), we walked to the lighthouse, in an attempt to witness a beautiful sunset. This was unfortunately not granted by Petrus who had ordered a bunch of clouds to ruin our party. Petrus, we are going to have to talk at some point… Instead we headed back to our quarters where luckily the world championship final of kitesurfing was taking place. Not a bad way to end a full-on and rewarding Sunday! 

After saying goodbye to Cabo de la Vela, our enthusiastic group started very early to make its way to Punta Gallinas, the northernmost point of Colombia and South America. We were pretty excited to go on a ride through the Guajira desert to meet one of the 8 families living so far out. The 4×4 wheel drive felt very adventurous as there was no proper road. We wondered how our driver found his way. After the 3rd cactus, turn right and at the weird looking rock, left again? Or maybe he was following the smell of the dry shrimps sold on the side of the road? We were very supersede to find out that many kids had set up in the middle of nowhere illegal toll gates and our driver had to furiously honk for the kids to let the rope down. Pretty ingenious cheeky buggers! 

To reach our host community for the night, we boarded a boat where we joined some other Colombian travelers. It felt rewarding to be surrounded by national tourists. Our ‘homestay’ trip included a drive through the desert with a stop at a view point before reaching the gorgeous dunes of white sand. We also went to the Faro lighthouse, officially reported as the northernmost point of South America. Our highlight was the Taroa beach where the desert meets the ocean. It was a wonderful day, exploring Punta Gallinas and we were grateful to share those moments with our lovely group. I was especially happy to have them around when M’s body decided to shut down and break into a bad fever. It was very worrying as I struggled to reduce his fever (the heat of the desert didn’t help!) and it was a relief not to face this health panic alone. Luckily M was, as usual, very strong (even when he was weak and burning up) as he somehow knew he would recover quickly. 

Reluctantly, the next day we had to leave our hammocks, our ‘end of the world kind of feeling’ place and head to Uribia where we said goodbye to our new friends. Next stop: Medellin (after a stop in Cartagena. Yes again. What can we say… We loved this city and this stop was well needed for M to completely recover).  


 

Happy trails and remember: Carpe Diem! 

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