Caribe beaches & jungle

The evening before we left Cartagena, we met Romarique in our hotel. He owned a hostel in Minca, the mountain village we were planning to visit next. We arranged we would stay at his place for a couple of nights. And so we did. It was a bumpy travel. First our booked bus didn’t show up because of traffic troubles in Cartagena. Luckily it waited for us and with an hour delay we arrived in the city of Santa Marta. The next problem was we weren’t dropped off in front of the colectivo stop (= cheap, shared taxi). It was pouring rain so we decided to take a normal, way more expensive taxi to Minca. The streets had turned into gulping rivers and the driver had to do his very best not to drown his car.

In Minca we had to climb some stairs to get to the hostel, Casa Colibri. It was beautiful but very humid, since it rains there every afternoon, three months, non stop. Even the pillows on the bed felt humid and soon our clothes wouldn’t get really dry anymore. Accept for that, Minca is really lovely. The atmosphere is totally laid back and people are very friendly.

Getting up early is thus the message in Minca if you want to see some sun, something we didn’t succeed in the first day. Luckily it only rained for a few hours in the afternoon, so after a nice brunch with ciabatta bread, made by a local bakery, we went for a little walk.

The nature was gorgeous and we even saw some leaf cutter ants, something we later realized, isn’t that uncommon in this area. But for now we were really impressed by the sight of those tiny insects, carrying peaces of leaf.

Actually we were trying to get to a waterfall, but we had taken a wrong turn somewhere, so we decided to get back before dark.

After a refreshing cold shower (it’s all they seem to have here in the north of Colombia) we went to the ‘Lazy Cat’, a nice restaurant with bloody good Martini’s, to get some nice food and drinks and call it a day.

We did succeed in being early birds the following morning. Our plan was to get to one of the waterfalls. Again the hike towards it was magnificent and the cold waterfall was very welcome after the hike in this dense place.

The next day we left half of our belongings in the hostel and set foot towards the National Park of Tayrona. A must see if you are traveling to the north of Colombia.

We took the colectivo and a local bus to get there. At the entrance of the Park, you have to watch a movie and you get a folder with do’s and don’ts. After a shorter bus drive, you have to walk through the jungle for 45 minutes to get to the first camping. And so we did. Again nature was overwhelming, but we didn’t take pictures because the humidity and hotness were really tough on us.

When we finally arrived, we pitched up our tent and went to the sea for a quick look. Afterwards we had a simple, but nice diner and some friendly talks with traveling french people (again). 🙂

At night, one of the campsites kittens came sleeping on my legs. At first I was scared to death! Imagine: sleeping in the jungle for the first time in your life and suddenly feeling some creature, which you can’t see, crawling up against you. Except for it’s flees, the sweet kitten was completely harmless and I fell back asleep until dawn.

The next morning we hiked towards the popular camping spot at Cabo San Juan del Guia.

And although the heath chased us out of our tent every morning before 7am, we really appreciated the beautiful Caribbean beaches and relaxed. We also decided not to visit “Ciudad Perdida”, the lost city. It costs 700.000 COP per person and that would be quiet heavy on our budget. An other argument not to go was that there is a smaller (and free to visit) version of it in the Tayrona Park. So we chose to walk up to ‘Pueblito’.

The trail was beautiful! The path went mostly over the old Tayrona trail made of big white rocks, good for bare feet to walk on. Shoes are simply to hot to wear here.

When we reached the top, we arrived in Pueblito. It was beautiful and howler monkeys were screaming which made it all very mystical. This little village is still inhabited by people of the Tayrona tribe. We were not allowed to photograph them or their houses, so we didn’t… well not really.

To give you an idea, the people are small and have a dark skin and long black hair. They wear sturdy white clothes and baskets or boots.

We bought two bracelets they made and some water and admired enormous crickets (as big as two hands) and spiders. We only got a picture of the spider because the cricket was sitting on one of the inhabited houses.

We started our way back down the same trail early in the afternoon to avoid the possibility of a shower. Wet rocks are simply harder to walk on.

The rest of the afternoon we enjoyed the beach and the sea.

The next day we packed our stuff and negotiated with one of the locals who owned two horses to get a good price for a ride towards the entrance of the park. I think we managed pretty well. In the beginning he was hurrying the horses, so we couldn’t really enjoy the landscape, so in my poor Spanish I tried to explain him we weren’t in a hurry and liked to enjoy the ride. He understood and we had a basic talk about Chocolate and Mantequillo, the horses who took us all the way back. It as nice to be on a horse again after all those months. We hope we will get other affordable opportunities here in South America to travel on horse back.

Back in Minca, we stayed for one more night. It had been raining so much a part of the mountain came down and one of the hostels walls was damaged, that was pretty sad to hear and Romarique seemed pretty down. We left him the next morning, wishing the mountain wouldn’t come down again, but as we left the city, the same thing had happened on the road: a part of the hill came down and people were trying to get the road accessible again.

We booked a hostel in Santa Marta to relax for a few days, to plan the rest of our trip and to keep the blog up to date.

As we speak, we are waiting for our night bus that will bring us all the way to Medellin. So talk to you again in a few days, with new pictures, of hopefully another brilliant part of the amazing Colombia.