A Travellerspoint blog

Colombia

Cartagena

Colonial buildings, good food and the Caribbean sea

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When I got to Cartagena on Thursday night I immediately loved the city.

The centre is basically the old town and is full with beautiful colonial buildings. That part of town has a really nice atmosphere, everybody's always on the streets, there are fruit and other food vendors everywhere and there are many nice bars and restaurants around. You can go for a walk on the walls of the city and see the Caribbean sea on one side and the city on the other. It's beautiful! Unfortunately, you also can't walk 5 steps without somebody trying to sell you something or, if you're a girl, some Colombian guy trying to chat you up.
Cartagena

Cartagena


Cartagena

Cartagena


Cartagena

Cartagena


Cartagena

Cartagena


Cartagena

Cartagena

In the newer part of Cartagena there are many high rise buildings, and there are also the city's beaches. The beaches are not amazing, but they are nice and pretty quiet. On the beach it is even worse though with the people trying to sell you things. Hats, sarongs, t-shirts, jewellery, fruits, crabs and massages are all on offer.
Cartagena

Cartagena


Cartagena

Cartagena

I was staying in a very nice relaxed hostel with really cool - though a bit crazy ;) - staff. As usual I knew many of the people staying there already from other places. I also randomly met an American girl in a restaurant on Sunday. We got along very well and so we met up every day after that to go eat or to the beach.
Hostel people

Hostel people


Last lunch with my American friend

Last lunch with my American friend

I had some really good food in Cartagena, and unlike in the rest of Colombia, it was possible to get the good food for relatively low prices. I finally went to eat some Indian food again! It was really good, the best I've had in South America. I also found a restaurant owned by a German woman, which had great breakfasts and a really good chicken salad for lunch; these all came with really good sour dough bread! Good bread for the second time within a week, I almost couldn't believe it ;) One day I ate a very tasty fresh fish in a restaurant on a beach and I also went to eat some good cheap pizza. On the beach, I ate some great Colombian ceviche (very different from the Peruvian or Ecuadorian versions, but also good).
This being my last stop in Colombia and South America, I ate all the typical fruits once more and of course a last arepa with cheese. Alright, I'll stop telling you all about what I ate now. You've already realised that it was far too much in any case.
Chicken salad

Chicken salad


Ceviche on the beach

Ceviche on the beach


Pitahaya

Pitahaya

I took a tour from Cartagena, which brought me to the Volcán Totumo, a volcano with a crater filled with mud. You can go into the crater and bathe in the mud. It was very strange at first, but then it was a lot of fun playing around in the mud. When you get out of the volcano you have to go into a lagoon to wash off the mud as good as you can before getting back on the bus. There are women there offering to help you wash for 3000 pesos. They are so aggressive though that it is almost impossible to refuse their help. They actually pushed some people down into the water and just started throwing water at them with their buckets.
The mud volcano

The mud volcano


In the mud volcano

In the mud volcano


After the mud volcano

After the mud volcano

Posted by sarahm_lux 19:23 Archived in Colombia Tagged cartagena mud_volcano volcán_totumo Comments (0)

Back in Taganga

My first diving course

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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!

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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!

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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

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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)

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