Our approach to our trip through inland Colombia was very relaxed. We didn’t plan particularly far in advance (one week maximum) and we left the opportunity to extend our stay if we fell in love with somewhere. Our stay on the coast was very different. We decided against a very lengthy bus ride and chose to book a flight in advance from Santa Marta to Cali. This would get us closer to the border with Ecuador, our next country to visit, but we had to book in advance to get a decent price. As a result, our time on the coast was restricted and with a range of possible things to do, we had to plan well to do as much as possible.
After arriving in Cartagena, our first stop on the coast, we managed to cram the following two weeks full of activity. We explored a UNESCO world heritage site, spent time in the Sierra Nevada mountains, travelled the arduous route to the end of the continent, and slept by the beach in a national park after hiking through the forest.
Within 16 days we did such a diversity of things, and barely scratched the surface of this area, just going to show how varied the country of Colombia really is!
So what did we do?
The city of Cartagena has a beautifully preserved colonial old town that was marked as a UNESCO world heritage site in the 1980’s. Despite it’s beauty though the city has a hidden secret, something which I found difficult to write about but found necessary to share.
We used Santa Marta as many tourists do, as a place of entry for all the wonderful places the coast has to offer. We spent three evenings in the city getting our bearings before travelling further.
Minca is a lovely mountainside retreat in the Sierra Nevada mountains. This small town is relaxed, with a hippy vibe, and surrounded by wonderful hiking trails, waterfalls, and wildlife. The highlight for us was definitely our hostel, Casa Loma.
Despite the promise of a rather lengthy and complicated journey, we decided to make the effort and travel to Punta Gallinas, the most northern tip of the South American continent. What an experience!
A wonderful example that life isn’t always like the blog posts! We had read so much about the national park, and went out of our way to make a visit, but unfortunately sometimes reality doesn’t always live up to expectations. We’ll chalk this one up to a life lesson!