Three unmissable destinations in Colombia
South AmericaColombia9 days / April 2018
Highs & Lows
Prices for transportation in isla fuerte
When you are looking for places in Colombia you like to travel, you are gonna find quite fast some blog sites with Top 10 lists of "most beautiful places you never dreamed of" or "travel the real Colombian experience". The truth is, most of the backpackers are reading those blogs and in the end, you will find yourself on a totally crowded beach between travelers seems to fight a battle with selfie sticks against greedy sellers clinging to you like a magnet in addition to their loud robotic sale phrases.
but if you give it a chance, Colombia can be much more than this.
the real success is in getting out of the ordinary and following new paths.
In these places and in general, the Colombians take care of the tourists and try to make their experience the best possible
Exotic food, at very favorable prices, guided tours of local and especially landscapes full of magic is what you can find in these destinations
Previously you read on a blog, this Caribbean beach is a quiet paradise, where you can splash alone in the crystal clear water.
Authentic Colombian travel experience in a place that may not be known for its unique natural wonders or cultural monuments, but hosts true people who live their lives in their own way and not from the mass tourism of the traditional trail
I want to invite you to the not so well known "Isla Fuerte", which usually occupies just a consolation place, next to the more famous Rosario Islands or San Andres. Nevertheless, the coral Island offers you activities and a chilled atmosphere of which you can not get enough. Located where the Caribbean ocean meets the pacific ocean just 11 km from the coast of Cordoba in the near of Cartagena, you will have most of the year good weather and its rains just from April to July. The size of the island is so small, you can easily circle it on a leisurely walk in 5 hours. You will find one lonely beach after another, with shallow waves and a pleasant pinch. In the north, it is possible to surf and on the other side, divers can find hotspots, which are only known among experts. There are 2 diving bases on the island where you can rent every equipment and catch a boat to the coral reefs if you have a diving license.
The best decision for us to stay was the "Playita Hostal" in the south. It's a huge area right at the beach with pretty suites, cabanas, hammocks, and even space for camping. A really healthy breakfast is included and they offer the whole day meals of their own restaurant. Last but not least, how to get there? If you are coming from Cartagena like we did, take a bus from the terminal to "Lorica", there you arrive after 5 hours at another terminal, catch there a collective. Plenty of taxi drivers will try to get you in there car for way too much Pesos to the Puerto "Paso Nuevo", from where you are taking off with a boat to the island. Be careful because the collective is just 10.000 per person for a ride to the Port. Don't pay more, the same challenge you will have at the port. Don't get panic when you get out of the taxi, again many many boat drivers and guys who seem to be their friends will try to convince you that you have to take a private boat especially for tourists. But these are super expensive, while a usual boat will cost you just 20.000 COP then the private boat will want 70.000 to 100.000 from you. So, be patient and resistant to the stress that the drivers make you and do not let them cheat you. After this little challenge, you will dive deep into the beautiful Isla Fuerte which is worth to be more than a week! You will feel like home, far from stress and busy, loud Party Travelers! Don't miss it.
If you're flying into the touristic town of Leticia to get a taste of the deep Amazon, I invite you to go slightly further, a few hours along the river to the village of Puerto Nariño. Here, there are no cars or motorbikes whatsoever - everyone's on foot - and you'll easily catch such charming sights as children playing semi-submerged football in the flooded football field (swimming is against the rules), spontaneous barbecues on the central street, where EVERYONE in the village (even those very old and very young with no teeth) show up to chow down on all manner of chargrilled foods and dance while they do it. The atmosphere of this place is like no other, and there's so much to do - as soon as you arrive, the locals will smell the gringo on you (I think it's something about the backpack and the sunburn) and you'll be offered tours by all manner of friendly local guides. This is usually extremely cheap, and you can go on so many different exciting expeditions that not even a week in this place is enough to do it all - there are nocturnal hikes, where you can spot creeping tarantulas or see the two glowing orbs of a caiman's eyes reflecting in your flashlight, or trips to the many indigenous communities around the place, where you can learn local crafts and the use of medicinal plants (and of course try ayahuasca if you're so inclined). In the flooded season, where the Amazon breaks its banks, there are also trips to the local lake, Tarapoto, where you can be so lucky as to spot pink dolphins and swim with them (they really are bright pink!) or take a trip in a canoe to the magical flooded forest where you can spot the sloths, iguanas, and toucans that live in the treetops. If you're very adventurous, you can even go on an overnight trip to sleep in the deep jungle for a night or two (my guide brought a mountain of weed, which really enriched the experience). In my opinion the best little pueblo in Colombia, where you'll be welcomed with open arms and be able to go on a tonne of adventures! Can't recommend it highly enough.
Alto del Aguila - Puerto Nariño, Amazonas
If you're looking for a hostel, the best place in Puerto Nariño (and arguably Colombia) to stay in Alto del Aguila! It's a good walk (or boat ride, if you ask the señor there nicely) from the pueblo, so it's properly in the jungle (you'll hear the deafening buzz of insects and the small nightly wars of monkeys on your rooftop every night). Here, the sweetest old brother and sister will welcome you with cups of coffee, fresh fruit and so many smiles and good advice. The wildlife is amazing - there are several parrots that hang around the place and will happily sit on your shoulder in exchange for seeds, and a huge population of curious monkeys, who will cling to your arms and dig in your pockets. There's especially one monkey, of a different breed to the others (the little black one) who loves falling asleep on your chest in the hammocks, using you as a human taxi to get from one place to another or trying to sneak inside with you so he can be part of the afternoon conversation. So many wild eagles nest in the surrounding trees, and the experience of climbing up into their tall watchtower (of course equipped with a hammock) in the early morning to have your coffee and see the eagles taking flight is unbelievable. The amount of wild animals you get to see and interact with here is crazy crazy crazy! And the best part (okay, absolutely not the best part, but a significant plus) is that the accommodation is an entire little cabin to yourself for just 20.000-25.000 a night. Go here!!!
Salento, Quindio - Cocora Valley
Just a half an hour ride from the little town Salento in the middle of Colombians coffee-region, there is a start to the beautiful hike of Cocora Valley. Wake up bright and early in the morning, have a little breakfast, take one of the jeeps on the main plaza and get ready for one of the most beautiful hikes Colombia has to offer.
The hike is full of variety and adventures. Along the 5 hour hike, you are going to pass a stunning path, cross rivers with hanging bridges, a mysterious, magic cloud forest, and wax palms that look like an enchanted forest. Be prepared to go uphill for a while, pass a hummingbird farm to the top of the mountain where you can overlook the valley, and enjoy the view. There is a little restaurant for those who want to experience the local food there. It‘s not much but it gives you energy for the rest of your trek.
Take pictures along the way, stop and enjoy the palm trees and everything this place has to offer - it‘s gigantic!!
Q & A
What would you have changed?more time in isla fuerte
Restaurant recommendations?plaza de mercado , Puerto nariño
Tips you would give a friend?waterproof shoes for cocora valley track
Packing tips?light clothes and bug repellent
Transportation Tips?try not to travel by night