The unknown side of the Caribbean Coast in Colombia
This Colombian region went through hard and dangerous times the last 10 years, nevertheless it became unique in its kind and certainly is open to receive all tourist attention! I'm talking about my journey to the north of Colombia close to the border of Panama.
Friends warned me in advance to be very careful with getting to Turbo at night, but when I arrived by minibus from Monteria at 10 pm I went towards my hotel without any problems. A local guy showed me the way to the hotel because my minibus had a different final destination and couldn’t drop me of directly. The next morning, when I was waiting for the boat to my first destination San Francisco (San Pacho called by the locals), it was soon clear that I was almost the only white person around. At the harbour there was a bustle of a lively chaos: Women who were preparing typical breakfast (rice, patacones & fried fish: 5.000 cop) & delicious fresh juice (1.000 cop) and active fisherman who were trying to do business. Lots of the young local boys were offering accomodation and transport hoping to earn some extra tip for that. After paying my 3 kg of lugguage overweight (10kg max, 500 cop / kg) and only 30 minutes later then schedulded, I left this active hotchpotch for what it was and was excited to discover this unknown side of the Colombian Caribbean coast. After an one hour I arrived in San Pacho where I explored the peaceful village, met the locals and visited a special couple who were living their ecological life. It was interesting to listen to them explaining all the posibilities for using a compost toilet; the construction of a washing machine build on a bike and cooking with sunlight.
They build a paper house in the middle of their Colombian jungle. Watch the video here. After doing an amazing hike in to the jungle the next day, I went on to Capurganá (1 hour from San Fransisco) for one day and Sapzurro the day after (15 minutes from Capurgana) and I visited the beautiful beach La Miel for an afternoon in Panama.
This whole area reminded me of the Pacific Coast (Nuquí - Guachalito) with its beautiful beaches. Starting 30 minutes from Turbo, the color of the water was changing in a beautiful blue shine surrounded by a pure jungle: Wonderful! The benefit of this region was that everything cost much cheaper compared to the Pacific Coast and also that there was a possibility crossing the border easily. You could book a boattrip to San Blas from Capurgana for example stead departing from Cartagena. The only difference with starting from here and not from Cartagena is that you are spending les time on the boat and sleep on land. For the real boat-trip adventure it is better to start in Cartagena.
I made great tours through the jungle and enjoyed toucans, sloths, titi monkey’s, ...
and learned a lot about this wonderful flora and fauna. I swam in natural pools and enjoyed almost empty sandy beaches. These beautiful coastline-destinations offer lots of extra activities like diving, windsurfing, horse riding, spear fishing and great local food. I had a very good time and was sad that I couldn’t stay longer!
Prices of accommodation: 20.000 - 30.000 cop/person/night. My recommendation is to stay in Sapzurro in Zingara.
Turbo - San Francisco: 1hr, 35.000 cop/person
San Francisco - Capurgana: 1hr, 45.000 cop/person
Turbo - Capurgana: 2hrs, 55.000 cop/person
Capurgana - Sapzurro: 15 minutes, 7.000 cop/person
Cartagena - Monteria: 6hrs, 40.000 cop/person
Monteria - Turbo: 5hrs, 35.000 cop/person
1: When you want to visit La Miel in Panama: Take your passport with you. The hike to La Miel from Sapzurro is 20 minutes. I did it on flipflops.
2: I was sad because my visit was too short. 1 Week or even longer would be nice to enjoy the real vibe!
3: No ATM @ San Fransisco, Capurgana & Sapzurro. Paying with credit cards is only possible in big hotels. You can get money in Turbo.
4: My camera crashed because of the humidity so put your camera in a plastic bag to avoid this!