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Trip Report Colombia, Cabo de la Vela, Tayrona National Park and Carnival

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I have found a lot of useful information on this forum so I´d like to contribute an article about the Colombian Caribbean coast.
Earlier this year I travelled, with my amazing new Colombian wife, along the Caribbean coast of Colombia. We flew into Riohacha in La Guajira. From there we found a taxi to take us towards Cabo de la Vela. He left us at Cuatro Esquinas (and charges about 15000 Pesos) where we found a car to another town called Urivia (costing another 15000) and then we found a local truck to take us across the difficult terrain of the desert to Cabo de la Vela. (the whole trip took about 4 hours). By now we were on some of the most isolated roads and areas I had ever been to. The local people are called Wayuu and they consider themselves neither Colombian or Wayuu. If you want to find a place that is incredible beautiful and way off the beaten track I really recommend exploring the area. Until recently it has been a dangerous part of Colombia with the Paramilitaries controlling the area, but now it is safer as they have been pushed out of the area by the Colombian Military.

Here is a video I made of everything I talk about in this article, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1Be9vtLN_g
And I have some photos, videos and a couple of articles on my Personal Blog .
www.tomramble.com

The people were extremely relaxed and friendly. I think the long hot days and the gentle wind coming in off the beautiful coast makes them that way. It certainly made us that way.
It is not a very expensive place to travel through. Especially if you barter with the locals and stay in hammocks etc. a hammock cost us about 10,000 Pesos per night and the owners offer a couple of meals. We usually ate Mojarra (fish) with Patacones (flat fried plantain), rice and a small salad, which was amazing. Food and fresh bottled water is a bit more expensive than the rest of Colombia, I think because it is quite hard to get it there through the desert (their are no sealed roads into the area). 

We got around on the back of a Local´s motorbike (with all three of us on it at the same time, which wasn’t very safe). 

After a few very relaxed days we travelled back to Rioacha and made our way into Tayrona National Park. It is more or less thick jungle with amazing beaches. The beach at El Cabo on the jungle covered coast is seriously amazing. It's as if a committee of international experts have combined to create a beach for a Disney waterpark. Two rounded half-moon bays split by a narrow sandspit ending in a rocky promontory; clear, hot ocean punctured by perfectly rounded boulders on one side and fishing boats on the other; shady palms leading to dense jungle running up to cool mountains.. As you emerge on the beach at San Juan del Cabo, you will find a simple restaurant and some huts renting hammocks for 15,000 Pesos a night (there are also cabins for those who prefer). We walked the trail right through the whole part and spotted all kinds of wild life that you´d expect in a jungle; Monkeys, Snakes, Giant Ants, Giant Crabs, Amazing colorful fish, Blue Lizards etc. We walked up the very sleep track to a lost village called Pueblito. It was amazing because we were the only people there wandering around the ancient cobbled streets. One think that is great about Colombia is that it hasn´t yet been overrun by tourists (like myself, and I guess this article won’t help).

After spending almost a week exploring the part we headed to Barranquilla for Carnival!!!

"Local inhabitants, the Costeños, are easy going, fun-loving folks of mainly african descent. Their quite life style is sometimes interrupted by raucous festivals, including the most wild of Colombian feast, the Carnival de Barranquilla." -- Lonely Planet.

The carnaval really blew me away. During the carnival Barranquilla's normal activities are paralyzed because the city gets busy with street parties and dances, musical and masquerade parades. Barranquilla´s Carnival includes dances like the Spanish paloteo, African congo and indigenous mico y micas. Many styles of Colombian music are also performed, most prominently cumbia. It was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. Not only is the official Carnival amazing but also the streets all through Barranquilla are filled with parties. They set up huge speakers on the sides of the road and pump out Raggeaton and various other Latin tunes.

Well, that was the first half of our trip, and I´ll continue with another write up about Cartagena, the Colombian Caribbean Islands and Bogota.

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