Punta Gallinas, Uribia, La Guajira, Colombia
5 days - April 2018
We continue our trip down the Caribbeans Coast and reached Riohacha, last city before our adventure into the desert La Guajira at the border with Venezuela.
There are few options to discover this part of Colombia, the do-it-yourself with at least 6 colectivos/Jeep to find and negotiate or a tour. We’ve played lazy and took a tour that could carry all our water for the next 3 days and just drive us to all of the sights easily and with no negotiation at all!
8 am on Friday , time to start the adventure! We’ve brought 18 litres of water as it’s a scarce resource in the desert, and some snacks.
After an hour we already felt out of the civilisation, discovered the petrol smugglers (the desert being close to the border of Venezuela, some people smuggle petrol to Colombia and sell it less than 0.2 euro a liter!) and discovered the desert with our guide Mario, that Cédric quickly nicknamed Super Mario for his tendency to drive fast like super fast even on dirt roads with bumps...!
Another guide told a friend that Super Mario destroyed 3 cars in a couple of month. Lucky it was not with us! Fun Fact: Mario is from Nazareth and ironically is one of the only Colombian not named Jesus !
At lunch time we arrived at Cabo de la Vela, a remote village where Wayuu and kite surfers cohabit.
Wayuu are some indigenous people that lived between Colombia and Venezuela. A bit more on Wayuu: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wayuu_people. The lady lives mostly from their artisanat (crochet of bags etc) and the men from fishing and hunting. Ladies during the day wear some black dirt on their face to protect them from the sun.
Cabo de la Vela offers perfect kitesurfers condition for most of the year and apparently some local and international competition happen here now. Straight after we arrived time for lunch, a delicious whole fish (dish I would have for all meals of the next 3 days while Cédric tried chicken and goat ). We also discovered our home for the night: a hammock ! Surprisingly I slept amazing well by the sounds of the wind, the sea and ... Luis our new friend snoring all night long! Quite basic but we had shower with almost-not-salty water and electricity for 3 hours a day.
In the afternoon Super Mario drove us to Pilon de Azucar, Ojo Del agua and El Faro lighthouse, amazing landscapes, some amazing beaches with sand and dunes. Have a look at the pictures, it’s stunning!
The day after, time to head to the most northern point of South America: the beginning of a continent or ending depending where you started your trip ;) to get there: 4 hours of bumpy roads with Super Mario.
It quickly became a no man’s land with only a few villages with “tolls” organised by kids. This part of Colombia is so poor and suffer from drought so they can’t grow anything. Hence the local families organised “tolls” where kids stop the cars with long string to get food or water. Heartbreaking.
At one of this toll i’ve spotted local method to dry meat… Doesn’t it seem tasty? You would understand why I sticked to fish for 3 days.
Punta Gallinas is famous for being the place where the desert becomes water or vice-versa. We’ve walked over Taroa Dunes , enjoy crystal-clear waters and just looked around and realised how fortunate we were to be here.
Again not much to do here but swim, walk and relax. The atmosphere was so peaceful. No picture can do justice of how beautiful it was.
It’s so arid and untouched, only a few people live there in isolated communities; cactus is the only living plant that survived the drought ( we discovered we could drink water out of it); there is untouch tracks and I still wonder how Super Mario didn’t get lost; the beaches are untamed and preserved; no sky pollution and many stars; there are no words to describe how it was.
However we discovered a sad thing about it: all the litter… Since we left Mexico, locals just throw away whatever they use in the nature… It made us really sad seeing so much disregard for the Nature and it’s something happening in every country in Latin America we’ve been so far… As a consequence during the “tolls” we decided to give fruits as the leftover can be recycle but we were the only one doing so...
Beautiful adventure with our new Colombian Friends Natalia & Luis ! I still wonder how come we didn’t get lost and couldn’t recommend more to go there! Still protected from the mass tourism, a highlight for us :)
# we travelled with Kai Eco travel and we recommend it. They took us to the best hostels (really basics don’t forget you are in the desert but clean and with a good cook). 480,000 pesos for 3 days 2 nights; by yourself it’s around 300,000 pesos.
# Go to Luzmilla in Punta Gallinas and avoid Hospedaje Alexandra, many backpackers got food poisoning there !
# from El Zaino or Santa Marta: take one colectivo to Palomino (8,000 pesos) and then one bus to Riohacha, 20,000 pesos. 3 hours in total.
# we stayed at Pura Guajira hostel in Riohacha: 35,000 pesos for a double room and amazing quality! We loved it
# Bring many snacks or water for the locals but please nothing with plastic !