The less touristy side of the Sierra Nevada region Colombia
From Barranquilla I left my homebase with 20 other Jeeps headed towards Puerto Giraldo where we took the ferry. Easier said than done because the ferry was painfully slow inching its way back from the other side and we had to wait a full hour! But there was food and drinks from a local shop so it was really not such a big deal (ferry price = 17.000 cop per car, the actual crossing took just 15 minutes).
From here our jeep adventure could really get under way. We passed Salamina (there is also a Salamina in the coffee region) and headed up to Pivijay. Followed by El Retén which is near Aracataca, the birthplace of Nobel Prize winning writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez. García Márquez lived for the first ten years of his young life in Aracataca. His birthplace was the inspiration for Macondo, a place that plays an important role in his book ´One Hundred Years of Soltitude’. We passed through small villages and beautiful scenery, everywhere there were palm (from which oil is extracted) and banana trees. (La Ruta de Macondo). Literature in Colombia.
We drove up hill until we came to the village, Palmor,
located in the municipality of Cienaga, Magdalena (located at an altitude of 950m, coordinates: 10 ° 46'12 "N 74 ° 1'26" W) where time appears to stand still. This region is known for its coffee production (which is harvested between the months of October and March). Strange but true: The village is not to be found on google maps. Along the way we enjoyed magnificent views of this eastern side of the Sierra Nevada. The town is inhabited by a mixture of people from different parts of the country. They are drawn from Santander, Antioquia, Tolima, Caldas, Cundinamarca and elsewhere, the majority of them having fled their homes because of the violence in the past. Indigenous groups such as the Kogi, Arsarios and Arhuacos are also represented.
After waking up with a delicious cup of locally produced coffee the trip could then go on. “Caficosta” is not a coffee brand, it's a ‘cooperativa’ that buys the green coffee from the coffee growers, at very low prices by the way. We drove towards La Tagua (altitude = 1600m). The road that we took when leaving Minca to La Tagua its called La Oriental. It stretches from Minca to El Campano, then onto Bellavista. Here we enjoyed a fantastic view out over towards Cienaga, Barranquilla and Santa Marta. There was a tienda in Bellavista where we paused to have a few refreshing beers; we were even able to play some pool there. From Bellevista we drove straight on to La Tagua.
In La Tagua we enjoyed pure unspoilt nature taking in some fantastic waterfalls and I even found the dense forest a little similar to the rainforest in San Cipriano for example. Taking invigorating fresh showers under the waterfalls and exploring the coffee hills of the surrounding slopes are fun things to do. You need to get off the beaten track to find these beautiful hidden places. Ask some local kids to join you they´ll be more than pleased to tag along.
For breakfast we had a "Cayeje" dish. This is a typical breakfast from the coastal region of the Magdalena region. It is made of green banana mixed with milk and costeño cheese. It is crushed into a mass. It didn´t look very appetizing but it was really very tasty! Here you read more about food in Colombia.
This off the beaten trek was super (except for the inevitable, but thankfully only occasional, bone jarring off-road jolts), of course we got stuck in the mud...par for the course !!!, but you can be sure we had a whole lot of fun washing off in sparkling clear cold water and explored the whole area and its fantastic scenery....WOW !!! .... Yeah it was so so so GREEN (October)!!!!!
When is the next tour?
1. Accommodation in Palmor: Hostal Saja: 310-6023030 or 312-6011250.
2. We used walkie talkies and of course a gps! The professional equipment (Amarok) we used was provided by my friends from iguana4x4.com.
3. More pictures Sierra Nevada Tour can be found here.
4. It was good that we were with lots of different jeeps so there was always someone to get us out of the mud! Big fun but only when there is someone to help you out!