The Guajira Peninsula

Trip Start May 20, 2010
Trip End Sep 05, 2011

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The Same Dodgy Place

Flag of Colombia  , La Guajira,
Sunday, May 22, 2011


Day :367
Temperature : 33 degrees
Weather : Sunny mornings, thundery afternoons, spectacular sunsets

Cabo de la Vela is a remote and beautifully desolate place in the northern most part of Colombia, on the Guajira peninsula near the border of Venezuela. In addition, the peninsula is the most northerly part of South America. It's dry and arid and very desert like. Cacti dot the land and goats and sheep roam freely.

Our journey here took FOREVER. We stopped off for the night in a place called Palomino where we would be returning to later. We dossed down in wooden hut and our beds were mattresses on the floor with a mosquito net for cover.  Not my ideal hostel, but we just needed a place to sleep for the night. After several bus journeys the following day we found ourselves in Uribia where we caught a colectivo (a pickup truck which carries supplies and people) to Cabo. We crammed ourselves in along with our luggage and several locals. The road is more or less a bright red, pot holed dirt track. Because of the recent rains it had turned to slick mud in places and consequently we bumped along, slipping and sliding for the next 2 hours.

We were dropped off in a hostel at the end of the village where we were given an extremely basic room with adobe walls, concrete floor and wooden windows. The bathroom consisted of a sink which didn’t work, a toilet and a bucket with water for showering at a cost of 25,000 pesos per night per person.

The sea here is flat calm although the beach quite narrow, and once in the water the sand turns to mud so it’s not great for swimming. There is however, a beautiful beach about 45 minutes walk from the village with cliffs leading down to red sands with turquoise waters. The sunsets up here are incredible, especially when combined with an electrical storm, which we seemed to have every afternoon and evening.

If you come here there are some things to be aware of. Firstly, if you care for your arteries, bring a mountain of fruit and vegetables.  Breakfasts here consists of deep fried egg and a deep fried arepa. Lunch, if you are lucky to get it will be fried fish, rice and fried patacones. Dinner will be rice and camarones, or, fried fish, rice and fried patacones… get the idea. There are some shops or tiendas selling biscuits, tins of tuna and water. That’s it.

The second thing that you ought to be aware of is that unfortunately the people appear to be rather hostile. It’s very, very strange. Despite our best efforts at smiling, being polite and speaking our best Spanish, we got laughed at and ridiculed. When we asked for lunch we were told we could have food at dinner time….we’d had breakfast at 9am and dinner was at 7pm. When walking down the street very few people would smile. When taking photographs of the street and the buildings we were told we would need to pay. When we asked for water for the shower we were told that they were too busy.  All in all we felt very uneasy and very unwelcome and it was all rather disappointing.

After spending a couple of days there we changed our plans and decided to get out. Our stomachs were complaining and we didn’t feel that we could trust the locals. And so we caught a colectivo at 4am and headed back to Uribia where we caught another colectivo to Riohacha.

We asked the driver if there was somewhere that we could buy fruit and vegetables you can imagine our glee when he replied "Carrefour".  We were dropped off at a shopping mall and bumbled in with all of our luggage. I think we all nearly wept when we discovered the café in Carrefour. We dumped our bags and totally pigged out on fruit salad. Then, we went shopping….fruit, vegetables, milk, granola, yoghurt, coffee, wine, cheese, bread, soup…..heaven!

We now looked utterly ridiculous. Loaded with backpacks and day bags, and carrying about 10 bags of shopping. We caught a bus to Palomino, just north of Tayrona park. When we arrived we each hopped on a motorcycle taxi, still laden with luggage, and zipped down to the beach. We found ourselves a great little hostel which is more like a family house, with hammocks, sun loungers, a grassy lawn and a kitchen to cook all our lovely food. And to top it off, there are tall swaying palm trees leading down to the beach and a perfect view of the Caribbean. Ah, this was nice….
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