Immediately after uploading my last entry, we started on one of the more intrepid adventures of our trip so far – a journey to the northernmost point of the South American continent. Eschewing the offering of an expensive, all-inclusive tour, we instead elected to brave the different legs of our journey ourselves, relying on can-do attitudes and effusive positivity.*
Firstly, we took the bus to a city called Riohacha and spent a night at the highly, highly recommended Pura Guajira hostel, from where we were collected bright and early the next morning by a ‘colectivo’-style taxi, taking us up to a small town named Uribia. From here, we were planning on bargaining a lift to the next stop, and had very little trouble indeed, being accosted by a local chap no less than 5 seconds after stepping out of the car, and being offered a trip to Cabo de la Vela for 5,000 pesos less than we were expecting to pay. Admittedly, it was in the back of his pickup truck, alongside deliveries of beer and rice**, but so far so good.
The journey was a spectacular one, taking us flying through the open desert, and eventually peeling off to negotiate the sandy, seaside roads that lead through to Cabo de la Vela.
From Cabo we took a (rather wet) boat trip down the coast to a nearby beach, which offered an amazing view of a rocky, barren headland stretching out into the sea. One of the things about Colombia that is often discussed is the incredible variety of terrain, and the arid desert of La Guajira, the department we were in, definitely highlighted this for me.
Our night in a hospedaje (very basic lodging) in Cabo was somewhat soured by a Colombian chap helping himself to my phone, but I won’t be dwelling on that, as enough Colombian people have profusely apologised to me for the event, that I don’t feel it’s at all representative of the welcoming, generous population here. Until I have a replacement, all of the blog images will be coming from my GoPro, photos or video stills, or from Ben’s phone***.
The next day, having agreed a price for an overnight tour to Punta Gallinas, we left not-actually-that-bright and early at 5am. After another blast through the desert, this time in a slightly more comfortable Land Cruiser, and after a small stop to help one of the other cars in our convoy that decided to shed a wheel, we were settling into the slightly questionable Hospedaje Alexandra, and waiting for the final leg of our journey, reaching as far north as South America goes.
Another saltwater shower of a boat ride and a final off-road run later, we were on the famous Dunas de Taroa sand dunes, that run right down into the sea and were about as breathtaking as anything we’ve seen on this long journey so far.
Ben spent a bit of time farting around in the sea, as is his want, I spent quite a lot of time trying to get cool shots action shots of breaking waves without getting wet, and we watched another great sunset in perhaps the most unique surroundings yet.
Our tour then took in the lighthouse that actually represents the northernmost point of the South American landmass, and returned us to our accommodation. Unfortunately it was dark by this point, so there wasn’t much to see, but I did play with the night-photo mode on my GoPro and catch the following.
The less said about the journey back to Uribia the next day the better, as it involved more broken Land Cruisers, much standing in the desert, and a small sprinkling of arguing with obstinate locals until we got what we had paid for. Eventually though, we were back in the oasis of peace and tranquility that is Pura Guajira hostel in Riohacha and eating takeaway pizza, so everything turned out OK.
Two nights and three days in the desert had left us dusty, sandy, and tired so the next day we headed to Palomino for our last dose of relaxed Caribbean coast before heading inland. On our one full day there we did some ‘tubing’ down a river, a very enjoyable couple of hours sitting in old inner tubes, winding down a shallow river and enjoying a few beers. We also enjoyed the creature comforts of our resort-style hostel, The Dreamer.
Instead of heading up to a mountain village called Minca the next day and staying the night there, we instead elected to return to Santa Marta, hire a motorbike, and do a day-trip to the remote location the following day. An eventful trip involved getting absolutely soaked by a couple of rainstorms, a great lunch and fantastic view from the hostel we were originally going to stay in, a very strong but delicious cup of coffee from a remote plantation, and some excellent riding from Ben to negotiate some particularly muddy roads.
We managed to make it back to Santa Marta in plenty of time for our flight to Medellin last night. We’re planning to spend six nights here before heading further down to Bogota, and with things like science museums, walking tours, paintballing and cable-cars lined up, there should be lots to update you on by the time we’re down there.
*Yes, and Ben’s ability to speak Spanish.
**At least we’d have had supplies if we broke down, I suppose.
***Which has, as he likes to remind everyone all the time, the all-important double Leica lens.