A Travellerspoint blog

October 2011

Back in Taganga

My first diving course

semi-overcast 30 °C
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When I finally had gotten back to Taganga on Saturday night, I couldn't wait to shower, eat something and then go out. I met some guys in the hostel who I had some beers and then went out with. When we walked around town and to the club, I started meeting people I knew everywhere. I met the Australian who I went to the jungle with in Ecuador, the Swiss girl who was on the ferry in Chile with me and who I had travelled with for a bit afterwards, the Colombian guy I had gone out to party with in Medellín and a girl I knew from Latacunga. The crazy world of travelling! Knowing so many people around, I had a great time and a bit of a crazy night which lasted until 6 in the morning.
Taganga by night

Taganga by night

The next day was a day to relax, meet up with some friends, go out for another nice dinner and go to sleep very early to be fit for the start of the diving course in the morning.

I took the course with a Canadian girl from the hostel, it was only the two of us. Before the first dive I was pretty nervous, but the diving turned out ot be really great! Our instructor was really good too! He was very patient and explained things well.

So the next 3 days, we spent diving and studying for the diving. The were quite a few people in the hostel taking an open water course at the same time, so that the rooftop terrace was full with people studying in the afternoons and at night.

On the 3rd day, we finally took the exam, which we passed easily. It was then time to celebrate! We went for a cocktail at a beach bar. Later we had a really nice French dinner at the hostel (filet mignon, ratatouille and croquettes!! so good!) and then went out for some more cocktails and some dancing.
Very very tasty French food

Very very tasty French food


Celebrating our passed diving exams

Celebrating our passed diving exams


Night out with loads of new divers <img class='img' src='https://tp.daa.ms/img/emoticons/icon_wink.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=';)' title='' />

Night out with loads of new divers ;)

After a great breakfast in a pretty little cafe in the morning, I got ready to leave Taganga.
Real bread, a rarity in South America

Real bread, a rarity in South America

Posted by sarahm_lux 18:37 Archived in Colombia Tagged scuba_diving taganga Comments (0)

Tayrona National Park

Finally some nice Caribbean beaches!

semi-overcast 30 °C
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I spent Friday and Saturday in Tayrona National Park which is close to Taganga and Santa Marta. I went there with the Slovenian girl mentioned in the last post. After the bus journey and a long hike to the first beach and the Finca where we were going to stay the night, we were ready to go explore the beaches in the park, hoping very much that they would finally be beautiful and clean.

We had to walk for a while longer to get to the first beach at which you can swim. When we got there, we found that it was very nice, but also very small.
Tayrona National Park

Tayrona National Park


Tayrona National Park

Tayrona National Park

That night was my first time sleeping in a hammock. Luckily there weren't as many mosquitoes as I had expected and the night passed pretty well, except that my neck was hurting when I woke up.

Saturday morning, we walked further into the park and reached a beach called Cabo San Juan. Finally, this was a really nice beach! There was enough space, many palmtrees and clean warm water. I really enjoyed the hours we spent there lying in the sun! So relaxing!
Tayrona National Park

Tayrona National Park


Tayrona National Park

Tayrona National Park

After we got back to the campsite and had a rest, I started walking back to the exit of the park, where a bus to Taganga was waiting for me, while the other girl decided to stay in the park another night.

The minibus that was bringing me back into town left on time and as opposed to the day before, when we came with a full bus, there were only 5 passengers. 2 of them were Colombians who got dropped off somewhere in Santa Marta. The other 2 were getting on a bus to Bogotá that night, so they got brought to the bus station in Santa Marta. This meant that it was only me and the driver left to go to Taganga. By the time we had dropped all the others off it had started raining very heavily. When we entered the centre of Santa Marta, many streets had been turned into real rivers and the water was more than knee-deep in some places.
Santa Marta under water

Santa Marta under water


Santa Marta under water

Santa Marta under water

This unfortunately lead to water getting into the engine of the minibus, so that the engine died and the bus wouldn't start anymore. The driver managed to get us into a shallower parts where we had to wait about 20 minutes for the engine to dry. We were then able to continue, but the same thing happen all over again just a little bit further along the road. This time some local boys offered to push us out of the deep part and then we waited again... When we finally left Santa Marta, we picked up a group of people waiting for some way to get to Taganga since there were no busses or taxis going anymore. At 7.30 we reached Taganga!

Posted by sarahm_lux 17:48 Archived in Colombia Tagged tayrona Comments (0)

Santa Marta & Taganga

I have arrived at the Caribbean coast!

storm 30 °C
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After another long nightbus (15 hours this time) I finally got to the Caribbean coast! I arrived in Santa Marta on Wednesday, 12th October. I decided to spend 1 night in the city before moving on to Taganga the next day. After a short walk around the centre, I unfortunately discovered that this was not the best decision. The town was nothing special and the beach was not nice either. So all there really was to do was hang out in the very nice hostel I was staying at. It ended up being a very lazy day. Luckily I had met a girl that was on the bus from San Gil with me, so I could be lazy together with her and wasn't quite so bored.
Santa Marta

Santa Marta


Santa Marta

Santa Marta

The next morning, the two of us made our way to Taganga. We were hoping to find a nicer beach there, but unfortunately we did not. Taganga is a nice small town though with many nice bars and good restaurants including some at the beachfront in little huts. The hostel I stayed at was also amazing. There was a lot of space to hang out, with hammocks, trees, tables and chairs... Just the service was very bad (definitely the worst I had had in a long time!).

The first day there I spent sorting out a diving course and hanging out in the hostel. I also went to have a really nice (and cheap ;)) dinner with my Slovenian friend from Santa Marta. We shared some really good fish and some tasty Thai rice.
Amazing fish in Taganga

Amazing fish in Taganga


Thai rice in Taganga

Thai rice in Taganga

I then went to Tayrona National Park for a couple of days, so I will continue writing about the rest of my time in Taganga in the next blog post.

Posted by sarahm_lux 17:09 Archived in Colombia Tagged taganga santa_marta Comments (0)

San Gil

Crawling underneath the ground and flying high up in the sky

semi-overcast 25 °C
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San Gil is Colombia's equivalent to Ecuador's Baños, meaning that you can do all sorts of adventure sports around there.

The first day in San Gil, I just wanted to relax a bit after all the big cities. So I spent the morning at the pool in the hostel (yes, the hostel had a pool on a terrace!:) ) and the afternoon in the Parque El Gallineral, a beautiful park with interesting trees and plants and even a few tortoises walking around.
Parque El Gallineral

Parque El Gallineral


Parque El Gallineral

Parque El Gallineral


Parque El Gallineral

Parque El Gallineral


Tortoise in Parque El Gallineral

Tortoise in Parque El Gallineral

I really wanted to do 2 activities in San Gil: abseiling down waterfalls and paragliding. Unfortunately, the weather ruined those plans for the second day. There had been too much rain at night so that the waterfall was too strong and you could not go abseiling, and there was too little wind to do the paragliding (we waited up on the hill for about 1 1/2 hours till the guides finally gave up). By then we were a group of 11 people from the hostel who all got disappointed that day and we wanted to all go play Tejo that night, a typical Colombian game which involves throwing metal disks at envelopes filled with gunpowder (or something like that; as I haven't played it yet, I'm not sure about the rules). However, this also did not work out because the tejo centre which is supposed to be open every night was closed this night. A day of bad luck!

The next day we were all still hoping to go abseiling and paragliding, but again, there was too much water for the abseiling. When we heard this, 5 of us decided to go caving instead. This activity can be done any day, in any weather, so we were sure to get at least 1 thing done that day. It was a great idea. At first it was a bit scary, entering the dark, wet and muddy cave which is very narrow and low in some spots, but in the end it was loads of fun! We had to swim, wade through the water, crawl though the mud, dive through a small tunnel, climb over rocks, drag our bodies through mud and shallow water just with our hands and arms... There were a lot of stalactites, stalagmites and some columns formed by the two types of formations meeting and joining. We saw some small waterfalls and there were bats hanging on the ceiling and sleeping. By the end of the whole adventure we were soaking wet and covered in mud (and bat poo...).
Wet and muddy after the caving

Wet and muddy after the caving

The cave was on the way to the paragliding site, so that our hostel had arranged for us to be picked up on the way. Driving up the hill, we were all really happy to see some people paragliding already. This meant that it was possible that day! We finally all got to fly! This was of course scary as well at first, but only until I was up in the air. As soon as we had left the ground I really enjoyed it! It was such a great experience to be flying over the hills and tobacco fields suspended by a big parachute. I had told my guide beforehand to not do any crazy swirls or other tricks, but when we were flying I changed my mind and let him give it a try. It was great, like on a crazy rollercoaster!
The paragliding site

The paragliding site


Ready to fly

Ready to fly


Paragliding

Paragliding


Paragliding

Paragliding


Paragliding

Paragliding

Posted by sarahm_lux 17:33 Archived in Colombia Tagged paragliding caving san_gil parque_el_gallineral Comments (0)

Bogotá

Colombia's rainy capital

rain 20 °C
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On Monday morning, I arrived in Bogotá, the capital of Colombia. In the hostel I straight away met 2 people I knew from earlier on in my trip. One of them was going on a bike tour that morning, so I joined him in this. For 5 hours, we cycled around the city, seeing all the main sights and more.
Bogotá

Bogotá


Bogotá

Bogotá


Bogotá

Bogotá


Graffiti in Bogotá

Graffiti in Bogotá


Graffiti in Bogotá

Graffiti in Bogotá


We visited a market, where we tried a lot of the local fruits, many of which can only be found in Colombia.
Fruits at the market

Fruits at the market


We also went to a coffee factory that made coffee for export and for sale in Colombia. They also had a café connected to the factory, where the waiter made some 'coffee art'.
Coffee Art

Coffee Art


We rode our bikes through one of the public universities, which was full with political graffiti.
Public University

Public University


We also visited the city's bull fighting ring where in January and February you can see Colombian and Spanish bull fighters in action.
Bullfighting ring

Bullfighting ring

The next day, I went to the Museo del Oro, the gold museum. It is a really big museum and has some very interesting exhibits, mainly from pre-Colombian cultures.

In the afternoon, I was raining a lot, so that I stayed in the hostel and watched a movie with some other people. When it had finally stopped raining, I left the hostel only to go eat something. Some very tasty crêpes.

On Wednesday, a group of people from the hostel went to Zipaquirá for the day. It is a pretty town too, but what we went there for was the salt cathedral, a church built inside a salt mine. We had a great tour guide who showed us around the mine with its representation of the stations of the cross and the church itself. We then got to see an impressive light and sound show and a 3D movie about the salt mine.
Zipaquirá

Zipaquirá


Salt Cathedral

Salt Cathedral


Salt Cathedral

Salt Cathedral


Salt Cathedral

Salt Cathedral


Salt Cathedral

Salt Cathedral


Salt Cathedral - light and sound show

Salt Cathedral - light and sound show

After the visit to the cathedral, we had lunch in town in the town. I finally had a bandeja paisa, a traditional dish made up of many different things: beans, rice, plantains, minced meat, sausage, arepa...
Bandeja Paisa

Bandeja Paisa

That night, some more people I knew had arrived in the hostel and since one of them had his birthday that day, we went out to a club to celebrate.

On Thursday, I visited some more museums in the city, the Botero museum, the police museum and the Museum of Modern Art. The Botero museum is not quite as good as the one in Medellín, the police museum is interesting and the Museum of Modern Art had a really good exhibition of photos by Ruven Afanador on.
Botero Museum

Botero Museum


Botero Museum

Botero Museum


Police Museum

Police Museum

On Friday morning, I took the cable car up to Monserrate, a hill overlooking Bogotá. The hilltop is very nicely done, with plants, water and pretty building housing restaurants etc. Unfortunately the views were not that great as it was cloudy in Bogotá, as usual.
Monserrate

Monserrate


Monserrate

Monserrate

After this, I had a walk around old town and visited a beautiful church and a monastery housing a cultural center. Both were very nice.
Old town

Old town


One of the many fruit stalls in Bogotá

One of the many fruit stalls in Bogotá


Iglesia Santa Clara

Iglesia Santa Clara


Monastery

Monastery

That whole week already I was not really in a mood to go out. However, since it was a Friday night in Bogotá I felt like I should see some of the city's nightlife. When I entered the hostel lounge to have my dinner there, somebody was watching a movie. When this one finished, we put on another movie and watched this. I talked to him for a bit and it turned out he was not really in the mood to go out either. So we finished the movie, but then decided to at least go for a couple of drinks in a bar down the road. At least we left the hostel. There bar closed already at 2.15, so we went back to the hostel, where we met some other guys that were just coming back from a club they had gone too. We ended up drinking some more beers with them and just chatting in the hostel bar until 5 in the morning. OK, I did not really go out, but still did not get any real sleep before leaving to the bus station in the morning...

Posted by sarahm_lux 10:58 Archived in Colombia Tagged bogota zipaquirá catedral_de_sal Comments (0)

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