It’s definitely time for some new photos, it’s been (very busy) months since my last post. There we go, with the first part of this summer’s Colombia trip.
I arrived in Cartagena after a long trip via Luxembourg (train from Bern, modern & clean HI hostel, modern airport with free unlimited Wi-Fi), London Heathrow (stopover with 45mins of free Wi-Fi) and New York City (40$ AirBnB room in Jamaica, Queens). From Heathrow to JFK, I was in a huge and modern Boeing 777-300 with good food, service and entertainment system (and expensive Wi-Fi). On to Cartagena with Avianca (pancakes for breakfast!) and to Hostel Mamallena (private room with three beds for the two of us for 78’000 COP per night) by taxi. The hostel had a nice vibe, a cool outside area and included pancake breakfast – they even had a speaking, bilingual parrot, who was able to say «fuck you». After a few hours of speaking to the bird and enjoying the Caribbean sun, my roommate, who’d taken a different route (a different detour) arrived.
The city has a beautiful, very colorful, colonial oldtown. We went to finally take a swim in the sea, the beach we went to wasn’t all that special, the water was very warm though. Everyone in Cartagena seemed to speak a little English (which kinda surprised me).
After two days, we moved on to Santa Marta, a quite dirty city with a quite dirty beach. We stayed at Hostel La Brisa Loca (30’000 COP pppn in a dorm with AC), which was alright. We got one free beer each day – it’s a party house, people go crazy, college girls and the like, lots of Australians… it was very loud. They have a pool and a nice rooftop with hammocks to calm down.
The next day, we took a minivan to Taganga, a small fishing village nearby with a nice beach. They like drugs in this town: Every time we walked down to the beach (5-10min walk), we were offered drugs about five times. There are only a handful of clubs and bars, but they’re pretty awesome. The Hostel (La Casa de Felipe, 60’000 COP for private twin room with bathroom) was one of the best I’ve ever stayed at. They have a beautiful patio, garden and rooftop with lots of palms and other plants, hammocks everywhere and a nice atmosphere. The staff is super nice, the bar serves great juices/smoothies for 3’000 COP and their French-run restaurant offers delicious and exquisite food at decent prices.
We took a minibus from Taganga to Parque Natural Nacional Tayrona for 18’000 COP each (one-way – the way back would cost us 15’000 COP with the same company). To enter the national park, we had to pay 35’000 COP (student) resp. 75’000 COP (adult). The ride took 2.5 hours and a (beautiful) 2-hour walk in midday sun to Cabo San Juan followed. We spent three days / two nights in the national park and had enough time to enjoy the beautiful beaches and scenic landscapes. We stayed in hammocks (without mosquito net), they cost about 20’000 COP I think and you need to be there in the early afternoon to get one – otherwise you might have to sleep in one of the tents (they didn’t look very appealing).
Some of the beaches in the natinal park are dangerous and not allowed to swim at, because of currents and crazy waves. Tayrona National Park was one of the most beautiful places in Colombia I’ve been to, however, it’s very touristy, since it’s probably one of the most recommended tourist attractions of the country. There’s just one restaurant in Cabo San Juan, which serves bad food at high prices.
Our last stop on the Caribbean Coast was Tolú. We’d spent two more days in Taganga after coming back from Tayrona, then took an early morning taxi to Santa Marta, hoping to catch a direct bus to Tolú (50’000 COP). Turned out it was fully booked, and the next direct bus wasn’t leaving Santa Marta until three hours later, so we took a bus to Sincelejo instead (40’000 COP), a taxi to the colectivo/bus station in this town (3’000 COP), a minivan to Tolú (5’000 COP) and a bicycle taxi (3’000 COP) to the hostel (Villa Babilla, private twin room with balcony & ventilation for 60’000 COP, nice garden & rooftop with hammocks). So we would’ve been better off waiting for the next direct bus probably, both money- and time-wise.
The following day, we took a boat (35’000 COP return) to the Islas de San Bernardo – the actual reason we came to Tolú in the first place. We passed some small islands first (La Palma, with the Aquario, and Islote, the most crowded island in the world they say), before arriving at Isla Tíntipan – a paradise island with white sand, turquoise water (better yet than Tayrona) and hardly any tourists at all. We had good lunch (15’000 COP), went snorkeling (12’000 COP) and enjoyed the picturesque beach. Another highlight of the trip.