cartgenaAugust 15, 2019 in Colombia ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C
While we wait for our truck to arrive we explore and enjoy this colorful city .
While we wait for our truck to arrive we explore and enjoy this colorful city .
Wir waren für die nächsten 5 Tage eine bunt gemischte Truppe aus Europäern auf dem Schiff. Ein dänisches, deutsches und englisches Paar sowie zwei Holländer waren nun unsere Weggefährten. Das Schiff wurde von Capi und Ray, zwei Kolumbianern gesegelt. Amy war unsere Köchin. Neben Burger, Fleisch, Curry, zauberte sie einmal sogar frischen Hummer auf den Tisch. 8 Hummer für 30 USD frisch eingekauft bei den Kunas, den Einheimischen auf den San Blas Inseln.
Das Abenteuer startete von Cartagena aus um 21:00. In der Dunkelheit liefen wir aus dem Hafen von Cartagena aus. Die Skyline und der Hafen waren in der Dunkelheit beeindruckend. 36 Stunden waren wir danach auf hoher See. 8 von 10 Mitreisenden mussten bei ordentlichem Wellengang dann auch dem "Neptun opfern" Zitat Grossdädy. Mir gings nicht schlecht und ich erlebte auf der Überfahrt auf Deck, wie uns einige Delfine neben dem Schiff folgten. Leider hatte ich meine Kamera nicht oben und habe keinen Schnappschuss machen können.Read more
We arrived in Cartegena a couple of days after Elvis. The sailing trip through the San Blas was unbelievably stunning, but after 5 days (particularly after a rolling last 40 hours) we were glad to get off the boat. We checked into a hostel around the corner and I immediately set off to start to find Elvis.
As we got there some folks we knew from loading, who flew instead of sailing, were just finishing off. It sounds like they had a bit of a nightmare with customs twice blocking the release of their vehicles. At one stage they had them out of the containers only to be forced to reload them, and pay for the privilege.
Knowing this we were expecting a difficult few days. Fortunately I had Greg, our container partner, alongside me and the two of us muddled through the bureaucracy. Customs had also opened and blocked our container, but as we weren't there we didn't get hit with all the extra charges the others did.
After 2.5 days we finally freed ourselves of red tape and Elvis was released into South America!
We somehow managed to squeeze him into the front of hostel despite being a foot too long, but finally we could relax and enjoy the city of Cartegena.
Its a gorgeous city with a huge marina and an old town with massive defensive walls. It is crazy hot - taking on even León, Nicaragua and probably winning. When I got the van out of the port it was 47C inside, and walking around the town was a sweaty business, even in the evening. As the sun went down and the temperatures settled around 30C for the night, the old plazas started to get packed with people - either enjoying the amazing street food, chatting over a cold beer or for the more energetic salsa exercise classes in the square.
It's one of the most stunning cities I've ever visited, but the heat, dragging Maya around on a lead, and partying with our boat mates had taken its toll and we soon got desperate to get back into the countryside.
Fortunately we had a spot nearby recommend to us, and we found the most welcoming hosts in Gloria & Alviero. They were super helpful, and even spent a couple of hours patiently chatting to us in our bad Spanish. We discovered an ants nest had taken hold under the bed so we had to strip and clean the whole back of the van out, which was probably long overdue.Read more
To get to our next country, Panama, by land is too dangerous - through guerilla territory! That leaves travellers with 2 options: fly or take a boat trip via the San Blas islands. The boat trip is not much more expensive than flying and includes stopping at tropical islands - not a hard choice!
The San Blas are a group of approx 378 idyllic Caribbean islands off northern Panama, which are governed by the Kuna people (so they are almost considered a separate country).
We chose a 5 night trip aboard the 64 ft Quest, a boat built by the Swedish captain Goeran. Cost = $50 to hostel as agent fee, $500 cash to captain and $20 entry fee to islands.
Rose, a fellow Brit, is the first mate / cook. There are 7 other passengers apart from us: 2 Dutch (Amy & Cor), 2 Austrians (Susanna & Michael) and 3 Germans (Sebastian, Nessie & Chris). Everyone was lovely however we grew to dislike N & C a little as they didn't stop pawing each other the whole trip and ignored their poor friend Sebastian.
We weren't meeting until the evening so spent the morning changing money (cute dog, free coffee), got a late check-out for the room (40,000P) and then lazed at the beach and had a short massage before stopping at the supermarket to stock up on snacks, iced tea and beer for the voyage.
We met at the docks at 6pm, were taken to the boat by dinghy, and clambered aboard. We had a cabin with bunks in the front of the boat (no ensuite this time). It's a beautiful boat with every gadget you could want times three! It took Goeran 15 years to build and it's usually a dive boat for the Caribbean but has also been to the Arctic and Antarctic - the cabins have heaters. Definitely a great choice of boat - the biggest one doing the trip with the fewest people.
We sat around in the huge marina looking at the Bocagrande beach skyline which is a mass of lit-up fancy high-rise hotels. We ate fajitas, had a safety briefing, and then set sail just after 10pm. We stayed up, accompanied by a lightning show, until we had left the channel out and then we headed to bed about midnight. There was a soothing rocking motion but it was really hot, despite the individual fans on each bed. We did manage to get a fair bit of sleep though.Read more
Sa, 17.06. Santa Marta: Minca & Rodadero
Santa Marta is not a really nice city and as already mentioned has a lot of traffic, chaos and people :P Typical for the coast there is already really loud music coming out on every corner of the streets already early in the morning and everyone constantly tries to sell you stuff. However, it is the perfect getaway for places such as Minca, Taganga, Tayrona National Park, the Lost City and the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
According to 'Keep calm and eat Arepas :P' I was not in the mood to spend my birthday in a stressful city so that I immediately went to Minca via the market place early in the morning.
Minca is also called Sierra Nevada and Ecological Capital and with its nice location within the Colombian hills in particular stands for fresh air and a nice change from the gritty, chaotic and super hot city in Santa Marta as well as the overcrowded touristy beaches of Tayrona NP. It is a super cute little village located a bit higher at an altitude of 660m and thus also cooler, greener and known for its many types of birds and butterflies - it reminded me a bit of Mindo in Ecuador.
As the hike to the viewpoint Los Pinos would have taken 6-7h and I was already a bit late thanks to the colectivo system I decided to take the luxury option of a scooter taking me there - an absolute adventure as the road was extremely muddy and flooded :P From up there you get a super view of the whole Sierra Nevada Mountains, Minca, Santa Marta up to the coast line in the far distance. I then went to Casa Elemento, a hostel located within the hills and with the largest hammock in the world where you got an even better view, just super nice :) For my birthday I even got a free special drink, there were a lot of dogs and puppies and I met the American Craig from Orlando and the Colombian Alvaro. I hiked back with them through the nice rolling hills of Sierra Nevada and we got along so well with each other that they gave me a ride back to Santa Marta in their car and - what would be the absolute highlight - invited me to their boat in the evening.
This was really absolute insane and Alvaro and his family seem to belong to the richer Colombians: via Parque Simón Bolivar I first had a delicious fish soup with view of Santa Marta's bay and beach before we met around 5:30pm at Marina Internacional de Santa Marta. The boat was incredible, completely white with leather seats, tables, a couple seat in front as well as own captain and awesome music. We went along the bay and islands with a nice view of Santa Marta's skyline until the quarter and city beach Rodadero with all its bars and restaurants. There were even some stars and a bit further on a private beach we lifted the anker and had a nice bath in super warm Caribbean water incl Spanish salsa music - again a big thanks to both of them for such a nice unexpected incredibly beautiful and unforgettable birthday :-*
Su, 18.06. Santa Marta: PNN Tayrona/Cabo San Juán
Without a lot of sleep - but hey I am still young at the age of 26 :P - I headed the pretty touristy way to Tayrona NP and Cabo San Juán the next morning.
The national park Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona begins east of the small fishing town Taganga and is about 35km and 15,000ha (5,000ha maritime) up to Rio Piedro in the East between the Caribbean Coast and the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It was founded in 1969 and is named after the indigeneous people living here from 600-1600 AC by cultivating sweetcorn and fishing until the Spanish came in the 16th century. There are 52 beaches and 11 bays in total and the western part is known for light brown hills with few vegetation whereas the east and central part have white beaches, small bays, coconut palms, giant cacteen, tropical rainforest with monkeys, lizards, birds etc. It is perfect for hiking through the Sierra Nevada, animal watching, visiting the archealogical remains of the indigeneous Tayrona population or just for relaxing at the beach, snorkeling, diving etc. It has some of the whole continent's nicest beaches with white sand, enormous rocks, shady palm trees, blue waters and with Sierra Nevada the highest Coastal Mountains in the world.
We took a 1h bus until Canaveral where we then hiked 3h through lush rainforests, tremendous rock formations via 7 beaches Arrecifes, Piscina up to Cabo San Juán - famous for its nice beaches and the big Cabaña. Apart from me there was a Chilenean couple but the rest were all from Colombia, mainly Bogotá - all very nice but exercise and hiking is really not their thing, rather done by German and French :P
Mo, 19.06. Santa Marta: Taganga/Playa Cristal
On Monday I went to the small cute fishing town Taganga, only 20min away from chaotic Santa Marta. It was immediately more relaxed and beautiful.
Taganga is the getaway for Tayrona's western bays and beaches such as Bahía Concha and Playa Cristal. However, the offers were all way too expensive, I would have had again to pay the entrance fee of almost incredible 50,000P and that was not worth for just a sand beach so that I just chilled at the port :)
Around noon I then took a scheduled 4h bus (Linea Flamingos, 20,000) via Barranquilla to Cartagena - that was the plan but I was again hit by Colombia's bus system with the typical things that can really get on your nerves after more than 4 months in South America: as usual you were immediately contacted at the bus terminal and brought to a bus - what I don't like because I prefer to compare bus prices of different companies. Then you also always get the typical Gringo prices so always haggle as the locals pay less anyway. It is of course a direct bus with running toilet and WiFi and departure is already in 10mins - for sure, the bus will later stop at least a thousand times to let street vendors in or have a half an h to an h breakfast/lunch/dinner stop, you need in general 1-2h longer than scheduled, toilet and WiFi are seldomly working, departure is in half or an h at the earliest, you get fridge temperatures and always pretty loud and violent movies despite all the kids - well, I really learned to be patient and relaxed here :O
We nicely drove along the sea but it was a bit sad to see all the plastic garbage.
Based on a.m. points we also only arrived quite late around 5:30pm and it took another h bus ride to the city centre so that I arrived already in the dark - something I always try to avoid as solo female traveller for security reasons. However, I was lucky again and met a nice young Colombian guy accompanying me almost all the way to the hostel located in the bit richer neighbourhood of Manga, super nice ;)
Tu, 20.06. Cartagena: Islas del Rosario (Barú & Playa Blanca)
On Tuesday I first went to the national park Parque Nacional Corales del Rosario y de San Bernardo, an archipel 35km southwest of Cartagena with 27 small islands, some of them only the size for a house. The island Barú is known for its white sand beach Playa Blanca and the only island that can be accessed without boat by a 1h bus ride from Santa Marta.
It was indeed a super nice beach with crystal-clear blue-turquoise water - but unfortunately veeery touristy with many people, umbrellas, tents, plastic chairs and vendors trying to sell all kind of stuff, from decoration, jewellary, food, snacks to massages :O However, it was a super relaxed beach day with very warm water and a delicious food lunch - I am a pro now in eating a whole fish and fully integrated also do it with the hands :)))
We, 21.06. Cartagena: Ciudad & Centro histórico
Cartagena itself is often also known as presumably most beautiful city in South America with its old historic centre within the city walls, colonial buildings in the most diverse colours and a relaxing but nice atmosphere with which you feel a bit set back in time. Apart from the famous fortress Castillo de Felipe de Barajas and the clock gate Puerta del Reloj there are also many churches, places and parks. But unfortunately it is also veeery touristy and thus one of the most expensive cities in Colombia.
I strolled along the city walls, enjoyed the cute colourful ways, streets and churches and then organised my sailing tour via the San Blas Islands to Panama ;)
Th, 22.06. Cartagena: Orga & Sailing Tour San Blas
Thursday was again one of these orga days with shopping, packing, changing money, writing travel diary, doing collages - saying goodbye to South America and getting ready for Central/Latin America - at 8pm in the evening I went to Club Nautico on the second marina in Manga on the sailing boat and catamaran Gitano del Mar with the German captain Elena over 5 days and the San Blas Islands to Panama - definitely blowing my budget but a big adventure and highlight :)))
That were a bit more than 4 weeks in Colombia and I have to say that I really fell in love with this country and also for me it is the most beautiful and diverse though unfortunately not the cheapest and already quite touristy country South America's. The landscapes are just amazing, the people incredibly helpful and friendly, so happy - in contrast to all sayings I always felt safe and would also always immediately come back. Only the food is unfortunately quite boring with rice, beans, a lot of meat and fried stuff but the fruit especially lulu are even better - well you don't travel to South America for food, you should then go to Asia instead :)
In total I almost finished 4,5 months/18 weeks and roughly 129 days in South America - an incredible journey through the 5 countries Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia with Peru and Colombia as my absolute favourites - the first for the trekking and soups, the second for the incredible diverse landscapes and friendly people as well as Galapagos Islands as absolute highlight and in my opinion together with Africa the best spot for animal encounters. I was at 0m-5.780m above sea level with temperatures of -15* to +43*; slept on the ground, in tents, hammocks, cabins, beds, buses, airports; walked, used pushbikes, quads, scooters, motorbikes, trucks, chivas, buses, colectivos, taxis, lifts, teleféricos, trains and planes; spent a lot of hours and kilometers via incredibly bendy and poor roads in (night) buses; was on active volcanos, glaciers, mountains, dunes, beaches, deserts; tried a lot of new food (the most exotic one was probably guinea pig or alpaca and lama meat), fell in love with yuca and lulu; met a lot of incredibly nice people (Mi Casa es Tu Casa :-*), haggled a lot and improved my Spanish; the songs Duele el Corazón, El Amante, Subeme la Radio and Vente Pa ca will always stick in my head and remind me of my awesome time - muchisima gracias Sudamérica :)))
Budget wise I was quite good despite expensive tours such as Salkantay in Peru, Galapagos in Ecuador and Ciudad Perdida in Colombia and only spent in 129 days around 3,730€, roughly 29€/d below my daily budget of max 33€/d and thus saved around 516€ - I am really impressed by my finances and can thus also do a super expensive sailing trip :)))
In the evening I then started the next chapter: with the sailing boat for 5-6d via the awesome San Blas Islands to Panama in Central or Latin America; I am already looking so forward to it :)))Read more
I'm in love with sunsets. We spent the day at my mother-in-law's, and got to watch this beautiful sunset from her balcony. Love her view! 😍
You might also know this place by the following names:
Universidad Tecnológica de Bolívar, Universidad Tecnologica de Bolivar