Exploring the Caribbean

COL-50-LT / 11-day trip / Grade: T2

Culture: Riohacha, La Guajira peninsula, & indigenous culture
Light Trekking: Trek to the Lost City & Tayrona National Park

Exploring the Caribbean 2
OVERVIEW

During this trip, we will take you into the cultural and natural diversity of Colombia’s Caribbean coast. Even though geographical distances are relatively short, way of life and landscapes differ greatly from the arid and harsh conditions in the Guajira Peninsula, passing by the tropical forests of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, to the idilic beaches of the Tayrona National Park.

Trip’s highlights:

– 3-day trip to the northernmost point in South America: Punta Gallinas located in the Guajira peninsula, where the amazing sand dunes beaches meet the sea. On top of that, the cultural experience to see the Wayuu indigenous group’s way of life.

– 4-day trek to La Ciudad Perdida of the Tayronas, known as “The Lost City”, one of the best restored and preserved archeological sites in the country. It is located in the Buritaca valley in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the highest costal range in the world.

– Tayrona National Park and Caribbean beach lodge. Visit to the famous Tayrona park with a easy gentle walk to enjoy some of Colombia’s best beaches in the country.

– All services are in private basis and of the best available quality, according to the area and possibilities.


Day 1 Arrival in Riohacha, La Guajira
Day 2 Punta Gallinas – the Northernmost point of South America
Day 3 Cabo de la Vela
Day 4 Cabo de la Vela – Santa Marta
Day 5 Santa Marta & City tour
Day 6 Lost City – Trekking: “Donde Adan” lodge (480 m)
Day 7 Trekking: “El Paraiso” lodge (870 m)
Day 8 Trekking: Lost City (1175 m)
Day 9 Trekking: El Mamey (150 m) – Tayrona National Park
Day 10 Tayrona National Park
Day 11 Santa Marta – Departure

Important:
– The trek closes once a year around the first half of the month of September, due to Indigenous religious ceremonies. If you are planning your trip around this time of the year, please contact us to confirm the exact restricted dates.
– This itinerary is the regular program, but it can be altered due to climatic and/or force majeure factors.

ITINERARY
Day 1

Arrival in Riohacha, La Guajira
Arrival in Riohacha and transfer to hotel in Riohacha. On the afternoon, a nice walk by the seaside promenade in Riohacha, where there will be plenty of Wayuu Indians working on their handcrafts while enjoying the sunset of the Caribbean.
On the early evening, briefing and preparations for the trip to the “Alta Guajira”.
Night in hotel.

Day 2

Punta Gallinas – the Northernmost point of South America
With a name that does relate much to the place (Chicken point), it is definitely one of the most unique spots in the country. Located in the upper most point of Colombia and the South American continent, Punta Gallinas offer some of the most amazing beaches to be found along the Caribbean coast. Punta Gallinas, originally a lighthouse, now in ruins is 3-4 hours drive Riohacha. To get there, first a good road “Cuatro Caminos” a 4 roads intersection in the middle of nowhere and then north by the main road, passing in the distance Uribia, the Wayuu capital and also named the Indigenous capital of Colombia. After about 1,5 hours drive, the tour goes into the Colombian “outback” driving over a desert with only 4-wheel drive’s tracks to the followed. The landscapes get wilder and, the indigenous families living out there, have a hard daily life. During the roadtrip two bays will be passed: the Bahia Ondita y Bahia Onda, with amazing landscapes, open skies and colorful sand beaches. After 2 hours drive in this remote land, the sand dunes of Taroa will be reached. This is the highlight of this area, a place just our of a story, nothing to relate Colombia a tropical country with. The yellow sands falling down the hill into the roaring sea. Sunset here is a must and an experience of a life time.
Punta Gallinas, where the ruins are, has a nice beach with an incredible turquoise sea and the view into an endless ocean! By the way….you are not very likely to be surrounded by many people, if any at all!
The night will be spend in a local home-stay build and run by the local Wayuus, also part of the trip’s experience.
Night in rustic lodge
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic, Dinner

Day 3

Cabo la Vela
Morning visit to enjoy the beautiful beach of “Punta Aguja”, there is the optional boat ride to Hondita Bay to spot pink flamingos (this tour is not included, but can be ordered the night before). After lunch, departure from Punta Gallina crossing once again La Alta Guajira’s deserts, until the Cerrejon Railroad (Cerrejon is the biggest open sky coal mine in the country), from where the road to Cabo la Vela starts. The last section, is more inhabited that the desert up North, and here lies one of the only windmill parks in the country.
A 2-3 hours desert road trip from Punta Gallinas is what it takes to get down to El Cabo de la Vela, located on the Wester coast of the Guajira peninsula, South from Punta Gallinas. It has a some best beaches, very little visited, only crowded during the Colombian holidays. Otherwise, an idyllic spot to relax and enjoy the nature. The place is great to get lost in the many bays, desert trails and also exploring the local cuisine and traditions. The place is inhabited by the Wayuu indigenous group and it is possible to sea the traditional fishermen work, bringing the sea harvest a shore in the early mornings.
El Cabo is also very popular for those into kite surfing, its permanent wind currents make it ideal for this sport. For those interested, it is possible to take a short course or rent the gear (not included).
Again taking a walk up to “El Cabo” lighthouse to enjoy the sunset, it is a must.
Night in rustic lodge.
Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4

Cabo de la Vela – Santa Marta
After breakfast, a short trip to visit the beautiful and famous beaches “Pilon de Azucar” or “Ojo del Agua”. There will be time to enjoy the water and landscapes, before starting the trip back down to Riohacha after a nice local lunch. The road trip follows the desert, if dry, over a salt flat and then close to the railroad until cuatro Caminos, from there a short 1,5-2 hours to Riohacha and then ” La troncal del Caribe” highway will cross the Souther Guajira and down to Magdalena State. Final destination is Santa Marta city, about 2 hour from the state border. Afternoon free to enjoy the city.
Night in hotel.
Included meals: Breakfast,

Day 5

Santa Marta & City Tour
In the morning hours there will be a 3 hour city tour in Santa Marta, actually the first established town in Colombia by the Spanish in 1534. The tour will visit the most iconic places in the city like: The Cathedral where Simon Bolivar was buried before he was moved to his birth place and last resting place in the city of Caracas. A walk through the colonial streets of the city’s crowded downtown. The gold museum, even though a much small collection in comparison with Bogota’s, it offer a great insight into the native culture inhabiting there surrounding areas. The seaside promenade and the pier and the Plaza Bolivar.
The tours ends around noon. Free afternoon.
Night in hotel.
Included meals: Breakfast

Day 6

Lost City – Trekking: “Donde Adan” lodge (480 m)
Morning pick up at hotel and transfer, in 4WD cars, driving northeastwards along the Caribbean coast. After 1-1.5 hours, leave the paved road and here the adventure begins! After about a 1-hour drive on a dirt road, through a beautiful landscape, the village of “El Mamey” (150 m) also called “Machete Pelado” appears. Lunch will be served upon arrival and then the hike to “Ciudad Perdida” starts. This day’s hike is exposed to the sun or the rain, therefore it is important to have a good amount of water and suncream!. Tropical fruit will be offered along the trek. The group will take the river trail, which is a more pleasent walk than the main road. This trail follows “Quebrada del Alto Mamey” river valley for about 1 hour and then ascends steeply (1,5 h) to “El Mirador” pass (640 m) that has a great view down to the Mamey town and the Buritaca River. From this point, a constant descent (1,5 h) to the “Quebrada Honduras” river, where the “Donde Adan”’s lodge is located. It is possible to take a swim in a beautiful natural river pool at the lodge. Dinner will be served in this rustic lodge.
Night in hammocks.
Ascent: 490 m / Descend: 160 m / Highest altitude: 640 m / Distance: 8,9 Km / Activity duration: 4 h
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic, Dinner

Day 7

Trekking: “El Paraiso” lodge (870 m)
This is a longest day on the program. After an early breakfast, the ascent begins right away taking a well marked trail that gently gains altitude up to “Mumake” pass (680 m). Before the pass, there is the invisible border between “Colonos” lands (Peasants not originally from the area) and the “Kogi’s” Indigenous territory. From now on, the trek will be done in an area protected and ruled by this tribe. There are also “Wiwa’s” Indians, original from another sector of the Sierra, had settled in these valleys and now are running some of the lodges. It is also noticeably the change from extensive farmland into a better-preserved and much less exploded area. From the mountain pass, there is a relative quick descent to the “Buritaca” river valley (430 m), where the only Kogi settlement on the trek is placed. This settlement is called: “Montangi” and is a perfect spot to get an glimpse into the local life style and traditions. After about 1 hour, a river crossing over a hanging bridge, leads to a second ascent (2 h) up to “Koskunguena” pass (824 m) and then back down to the “Buritaca” river (743 m) for a last crossing. The last part of the day is an almost flat area up to “El Paraiso” rustic lodge (870 m), the place for the night. This lodge is just by the shores of the “Buritaca” river, a fantastic place to relax and swim.
Night in hammocks.
To Mumake pass: Ascent: 200 m / Descend: 250 m / Highest altitude: 680 m
To Koskunguena pass: Ascent: 394 m / Descend to Buritaca River: 77 m / Ascent to “El Paraiso” Lodge: 127 m / Highest altitude: 824 m / Distance: 13.6 Km / Activity duration: 7-8 h
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic, Dinner

Day 8

Trekking: Lost City (1175 m)
Very early departure taking the trail on the right margin of the Buritaca river for about 25 min. up to a crossing, once on the other margin, the archaeological stairway begins ascending rather steeply all the way to the first terraces of the Lost City (1175 m). From here begins a journey through time, to one of the most interesting archaeological sites of Colombia’s pre-Hispanic period.
The Lost City of the Tayrona is worldwide known. Its original Indigenous name is “Teyuna” and is one of the three large citadels of vanished Tayrona civilization. Teyuna is the only city that has been discovered until now and thus partially restored. Tayrona’s cities were connected by a complex network of trails, from the Caribbean coastal area to the high mountain in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. The Tayrona had a well-developed social organization and an effective system of products and goods exchange between the different settlements. Although there is no precise information of the role of Teyuna in the Tayrona culture, it is believed that it was a place for religious worship and center of political power.
During the course of 4 hours visit to the archaeological complex, the group will learn about the different types of terraces and how the city was divided into areas according to hierarchy and types of work. During the visit, it is possible to see the home of a Kogi Mamo (shaman-wise person) who lives in the same traditional way, as it is thought the inhabitants did. It is also believed that the Kogis are descendants from the Tayronas, pushed to the higher lands during the Spanish conquest.
After the visit, hike down to “El Paraiso” lodge to have some lunch and then continue (4,5 h), back on the same trail as the day before, but this time a bit further out, crossing the hanging bridge and down the Buritaca river valley, passing once again the “Montangi” Kogi settlement to “Mumake” lodge (389 m), just at the foot of the “Mumake” pass.
Night in hammocks.
To Lost City: Ascent: 305 m / Descend: 305 m / Highest altitude: 1175 m / Distance one-way: 1,9 Km / Activity duration: 5 including a 3 hours visit.
Ascent to Koskunguena pass: 77 m / Descend to “Mumake” lodge: 481 m / Highest altitude: 870 m / Distance one-way: 7,5 Km / Activity duration: 4 h
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic, Dinner

Day 9

Trekking: El Mamey (150 m) – End of trek
Last trekking day! From “Mumake” lodge (389 m), the ascent being right from the front step, leading up to “Mumake” pass (680 M) and after descending to “Quebrada Honduras” river to ascent (1,5 h) to the last pass: “EL Mirador” (640 m) and then to the final destination “El Mamey” town (150 m). Upon arrival there will be lunch and then a transfer to hotel/Beach lodge (2-2,5 h).
Night in hotel/Beach lodge.
Ascent to Mumake pass: 291 m / Descend to “Donde Adan” lodge: 200 m / Ascent to El Mirador pass: 160 m / Descend: 490 m / Highest altitude: 680 m / Distance: 14,2 Km / Activity duration: 4-5 h
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic

Day 10

Tayrona National Park
Full-day tour to the Tayrona National Park. This is one of the most famous natural parks in Colombia with some of the most beautiful beaches of the Colombian Caribbean coast, right at the foothills of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the world´s highest coastal mountain range. The park has a protected area of 150 km2 of land and 30 Km2 of sea, being the second most visited park in the country. Due to its privilege location, there is a huge biodiversity and also archeological ruins like “Pueblito”.
From the park’s main parking lot there is a light hike by the beach line to the Arrecife’s area (1 h), an iconic place within the park. From there, another 25 min. to La Piscina beach and 20 min. more to El Cabo San Juan. There will be good time to enjoy these idilic Caribbean beaches and the nature of the place. Lunch will be held at a local place, where they prepare traditional fish. On the afternoon, return back to lodge.
Night at beach lodge.
Included meals: Breakfast

Day 11

Santa Marta – Departure
Pick up and transfer to Santa Marta’s airport (1,5-2 h).
Included meals: Breakfast


IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR THE LOST CITY TREK:
– The trek closes once a year around the first half of the month of September, due to Indigenous religious ceremonies. If you are planning your trip around this time of the year, please contact us to confirm the exact restricted dates.
– This itinerary is the regular program, but it can be altered due to climatic and/or force majeure factors.

PRICING
COL-50-LT – To request prices, please click on the BOOK TRIP bottom on the right sidebar and fill the information.


INCLUDED

  • Local Spanish speaking cultural guide from day 2 to 5 from 2 to 5 PAX
  • Local Spanish speaking trekking guide from day 6 to 9 from 2 to 5 PAX
  • Local English speaking AWT trekking/cultural guide from day 1 to 9 from 6 PAX
  • Private transport during the entire program
  • National Park entrance fee and park’s insurance
  • City tour in Santa Marta and entrance fees
  • 1 night in shared double room in Riohacha
  • 1 night in shared double room in rustic lodge in Punta Gallinas
  • 1 night in shared double room in rustic lodge in Cabo de la Vela
  • 2 nights in shared double room in Santa Marta
  • 2 nights in shared double room at Tayrona’s Beach Lodge
  • 3 nights in hammocks or mattresses for the Lost City trek (mattresses according to availability)
  • Meals as specified in the day to day itinerary

NOT INCLUDED

  • Domestic and international flights
  • Separate airport transfers in case of multiple arrival/departures
  • English speaking guide during La Guajira tour for groups between 2 to 5 PAX
  • Pack animal during Lost City trek for groups between 2 to 5 PAX
  • English speaking guide during Lost City trek for groups between 2 to 5 PAX
  • English/Spanish speaking guide in Tayrona National Park
  • Personal gear
  • Camping gear
  • Insurance
  • Tips
  • Everything not mentioned in the “Included” list
HOTEL LIST

RIOHACHA: Hotel Taroa or similar

LA GUAJIRA PENINSULA:
Lodge: Hospedaje Luzmila in Punta Gallinas (no website) or similar
Lodge: La Posada Wayuu in Cabo de la Vela (no website) or similar

SANTA MARTA: Hotel Boutique La Casa del Farol or similar

SIERRA NEVADA DE SANTA MARTA – LOST CITY TREK:
Lodge: Donde Adan (no website) or similar
Lodge: Paraiso (no website) or similar
Lodge: Mumake (no website) or similar

BEACH LODGE-TAYRONA NATIONAL PARK: EcoHabs or similar

MAPS

Overview:


La Guajira:


Lost City Trek:

GALLERY
Tags: Colombia, Light Trekking, Tayrona, Santa Marta, Lost City, T2, Guajira, Punta Gallinas, Cabo de la Vela, EcoHabs