The trip plan David developed for us involved travelling through three diferent parts of the country, Tayrona National Park, the Guajira and the Orinoco, and gave us an idea of Colombia's amazing cultural diversity and natural beauty, just as we had hoped. We have both fallen in love with the country and are very much wanting to go back. It's difficult to say what were the highlights of the trip, as the thing we appreciated most was the possibility to travel, stay and eat with local people,... read more
Local specialist: David Roa Martín
The trip plan David developed for us involved travelling through three diferent parts of the country, Tayrona National Park, the Guajira and the Orinoco, and gave us an idea of Colombia's amazing cultural diversity and natural beauty, just as we had hoped. We have both fallen in love with the country and are very much wanting to go back. It's difficult to say what were the highlights of the trip, as the thing we appreciated most was the possibility to travel, stay and eat with local people, and getting an insight, even if only for a few days, into their way of life. Tayrona was the most familiar in feel as we have travelled in rainforests and stayed in eco-lodges before so it was a good place to begin. You feel as if you are in the clouds slightly above the treeline, and we counted a dozen different bird species just from our bedroom window. We could have gone into the nature reserve nearby but instead walked by ourselves along the road to the coast to orient ouselves. The reward was a blissful view of the Caribbean at Los Cocos in unspoiled natural glory - the forst reaching into the sand, a couple of local families playing football, a dog running freely in the sunset. At Los Naranjos nearby there is a botanical garden with the most beautiful trees.
The food and cocktails at Tayrona kept up the holiday feel but nothing could have prepared us for what happened next, which was when the real adventure began. We were driven to Riohacha which has an amazing frontier city feel - which is indeed the case, as after this comes the desert. Before dawn the next day we were picked up from the hotel by Paola, the leader of the local company who took care of us for the next few days, by Leiner, our guide, and by Oder, the driver, who himself is Wayuu. We could not have felt more welcome and also in safer hands. This is important as it has to be stressed that this is not country in which you can casually venture on your own. It is a place where it is necessary to respect the local people who live here. It is also difficult country, beautiful but inhospitable, and it needs intimate knowledge to get around. Oder the driver was also vital as it is very rough territory for even a 4-wheel drive. He was brilliant, keeping us steady whatever the ground, and taking time so we never felt remotely in danger. Leiner was a terrific guide: knowlegeable, friendly, fluent in English and possessing fantastic people skills. We enjoyed stunning views of windswept landscapes with sparse vegetation but amazing birdlife including Red Cardinals, eagles, vultures and hawks. The sea is everywhere. Attending a local sea turtle conservation project and learning about the way solar technology is used to produce drinking water in this parched land was an inspiring example of grassroot -level community renewal: small scale, local and democratic.
After a quick stopover in Bogota we prepared for a flight to Puerto Carreno, and transferred to 4x4 to reach the Orinoco river. The first sight of the river (the second biggest in the world) was truly unforgettable. Under the guidance of Rosevelt our extremely practical and competent guide, and two lovely travel companions, we spend the next few days travelling down the Orinoco by boat, staying at Tuparro biosphere reserve, Sarrapia, and El Remanso in the Mavecure. There is something unusually lovely about the Orinoco river: the abundance of flora and fauna, the geology with its striking rock formations, and the rapids described by Alexander von Humboldt as the eighth wonder of the world. But the most important thing for us was understanding the river as the lifeblood of so many different communities; connecting different places, providing water and food, as well as identity and belonging. While we felt our lack of Spanish imposed limitations on the way we interacted with people we nevertheless learned so much about the ways in which indigenous communities in the region are connecting traditional ecological knowledge to solutions to the contemporary environmental crisis while protecting their cultural heritage. And, as we discovered while watching the World Cup finals in El Remanso, the language of football really is universal. While tourism can be a highly ambiguous phenomenon (something of which people locally are very much aware), you feel that communities here are managing to get the balance right, and have created infrastructure that allows people to see the astonishing natural abundance of the region, and learn about its cultural diversity, without doing damages or changing its character. Let's hope it stays this way.
Quetzal Dorado Ecolodge
What a lovely spot! The view from the central terrace opens out over the valley, the river and the mountains in the distance and is almost impossibly beautiful. We particularly appreciated the emphasis on sustainability. The staff is friendly and helpful, and the atmosphere relaxed. Special compliments to the kitchen staff for the very tasty food.
Streams and mountains in Tuparro National Park
In terms of sheer natural beauty, this is one of the most astonishing places we have ever visited, with every changing vistas and a final view of the Orinoco rapids. Edgar, the guide who took us op the mountain was incredibly friendly and extremely knowledgeable about the area and its flora and fauna.
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Trip to Cabo de La Vela & Punta Gallinas 3 days - 2 nights
This was an astonishing and beautiful experience, made possible by Leiner our amazing guide and Oder who drove us so safely. At the heart of it is an encounter with the Waiyuu people. The natural landscapes are incredible, topped only by seeing the turtle project explained at the Punta Gallinas community centre. We watched pelicans at sunset but we most enjoyed learning from our guides.
Guides, Drivers and Staff
I would put ten stars here if possible.
Hiking to Cerros de Mavecure
The Mavecure may be the most beautiful place we have ever seen. The hike is incredible we are told but forgive us as we chose instead to watch the world cup final with the local community. This was unforgettable.
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Rosevelt is just so capable. He looks after you without saying a thing.
The boats. Never travel by car ever again.