The Caribbean coast, Colombia

Km 17 952

Leaving Medellín, we have one last hill to overcome, then we descend into the plain towards the Caribbean Sea. For 2 days we ride flat kilometers between haciendas and their fields for cows. Then, we finally arrive at the Playa Blanca de San Antero. We take the opportunity to swim in the pleasantly warm water. We could stay there and swim all day. We continue only a few km to Coveñas where we camp on the beach next to a palm tree. In the morning, we take the opportunity to swim again before heading inland to Cartagena. In Cartagena, we spend a night at Deimer’s and his family’s house where we can leave a few things while we go up the coast towards Barranquilla the next morning.

The exit from Cartagena is nice, the road leads us over the Ciénaga de la Virgen, a big water basin with swamps on the edge. The rain spoils the fun a bit. The road after that is not very interesting, we are mainly on the motorway a bit behind the coast and we rarely see the sea. At noon, we take refuge from the rain on the terrace of a restaurant where we taste our first Caribbean menu: a fresh fish with rice. It is delicious! We stay a good moment hoping that the rain stops, but at 2.30 pm we give up and put on our rain gear. At the end of the afternoon, it stops and we camp at El Morro beach. We are alone on the beach, behind our tent there are some villas. As it starts to rain again, we take refuge in the tent.

In the morning, the weather is fortunately good and we go for a swim before breakfast. We put everything away, take a second swim and set off again. We still have a little way to go to Barranquilla, a big port city on the Magdalena river which flows into the sea here. We have some shopping to do and it’s already mid-afternoon when we leave the city over a huge bridge over the Río Magdalena. Then, we rush between the swamps to reach the coast again before nightfall. We find an access to the beach next to an abandoned house. We refresh ourselves in the sea, it starts to be a routine, even if this time we can’t swim totally because there are too many waves. When we want to set up the tent, a strong wind comes up and blows almost everything away. We struggle until we finally manage to hang the tent between some trees. When we finally get settled, we are full of sand, so Kati decides to wash herself in the sea again. She takes a few steps in the water when she gets pinched by a crab. Matthieu also experiments with crabs while we eat in the tent but with his feet outside in the sand. A crab falls on his feet. We don’t know where it came from, but it continues its way between our saddlebags and the tent before disappearing further into the night. This evening is full of surprises!

The next day, we wake up with a lot of mosquitoes around our tent. Fortunately, they don’t pick up when we sneak out of the tent to have breakfast on the beach. We pack up, take a refreshing dip in the sea and hit the road again. We ride along the Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta. In the small village of Palmira, wedged between the sea and the Ciénaga, we are shocked by the poverty here. They earn their living from fishing in the Ciénaga and sell the fish to truckers and cars passing by on the road. They have almost no infrastructure, bins are everywhere in the water in front of the houses and children are running around in the middle of it all. Leaving La Ciénaga, we have a few more km on the highway to Santa Marta. We eat on the outskirts and then take a small pass to the Parque Nacional La Tayrona. It’s expensive to visit a few beaches, but when we see the campsite on the beach between the coconut trees, we are delighted! There are not many people, the environment is very nice and there is even a swimming pool where we cool off after pitching the tent. Unfortunately, a storm comes and we have to move the tent from the beach to a covered area next to the pool. At least here we have light, electrical outlets and Wi-Fi. We have a nice evening!

The next morning, after breakfast, we set out to discover the national park. We hike along the paradisiacal beaches, apparently the most beautiful beaches of Colombia. We confirm, they are in any case the most beautiful beaches that we saw in Colombia! We follow the beaches interspersed by parts of the road passing through the jungle and between the coconut trees. During a moment in the jungle, we have the chance to see a group of monkeys passing in the trees above our heads. They throw coconuts and leaves on the ground, they make a mess! We enjoy the show and watch them jump from one branch to another. At the last beach, Cabo San Juan, we swim and have a typical Tayrona chocolate bread (a bit like a pizza dough filled with chocolate) before turning back to the campsite. We put our stuff away, jump in the pool one last time, then take a bus back to Cartagena. We spend our last two days in Colombia visiting this beautiful colonial city with its colourful streets surrounded by its fortified walls. What a nice way to end our stay in Colombia and our journey in South America. Central America, here we come!

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The Caribbean coast

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