SANTA MARTA: THE DOOR OF THE SIERRA NEVADA

Santa Marta is located in Magdalena department, on the Caribbean coast in the north of Colombia, between Barranquilla and Riohacha.

The city is a good place to stop off if you are doing a tour of the country and you want to go in the Sierra Nevada or to the Guajira Department.

It is one of the most tourist-focused cities on the coast. Its location between the Sierra Nevada and the Caribbean coast makes this city very attractive, especially considering the variety of fauna and flora to be found there.

 It is important also for the historical and cultural heritage, Santa Marta, was a colonial city, where you can admire the colonial architecture and monuments such as the Basilica of Santa Marta, which is a one of the biggest tourist destinations on the Caribbean coast.

As a Caribbean city, Santa Marta has suffered from repetitive British, French and Dutch attacks. The city is steeped in history and legends. One of them, says that Santa Marta´s Cathedral contains the heart of the famous Simón Bolívar, hidden somewhere. In fact Bolivar spent his last part of the life here.

A walking tour is the perfect way to orient yourself within the city and learn about its history and culture with your guide: follow your guide along the beach, check out top landmarks such as the Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino, and end your tour with a prime spot for watching the sunset.

I was in Santa Marta as starting point for the “Ciudad perdida” I was by trekking! The Lost City, or Ciudad Perdida, is the archaeological site of an ancient indigenous city in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. It has been a commercial center around 700 A.D., and its population probably ranged between 1,400 and 3,000 inhabitants. Hidden in the jungle for over a thousand years, the Lost City was found in 1972 when treasure hunters followed a series of stone steps leading up to an abandoned city.

From Santa Marta tour operators offer three- to five-day guided treks to the Lost City which include transportation, lodging, food.

Read more about the city!

 

PALOMINO: WHERE THE TIME STOPS HIS FLOW

The first imagine I remember of Palomino is the picture below:

My first thought: yes it is! The paint was on a wall, close to the point where the bus stop. It is not a real bus stop, there is an old bus station, and you leave the bus there when you heard: “Palomino!”

When you watch around you at the beginning, you see only a long road that divides the small village in two parts. From there, you cannot immediately understand the soul of the place.
I have to say that I stopped in Palomino just because some days before in the “Ciudad perdida” trekking I met a Colombian guy, really beautiful and gentle, a guide for the 5 days trekking.
During the long walk in the middle of the Sierra Nevada, we had a lot of time to know each other deeper and deeper. One of the long talks we had was on the places I did not have to loose on my journey discovering Colombia.
So, He told me to go to Cabo de la Vela and before that He suggested to stop some days in his “finca” outside Palomino, just chilling under the pilework He built, drinking rum, sleeping on the hammocks, enjoy the view and going to the beach passing through the cocoa palm forest He had to take care of.

Before going ahead, I would like to introduce the Sierra Nevada, called the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. It is the birthplace of the Tayrona, an indigenous civilization of the north Colombia. The descendants of the Tayrona still live there. Currently there are almost 70,000 indigenous people, belonging to the Kogui, Arhuaco, Kankuamo and Wiwa ethnicities. This mountain formation contains an area of particular beauty and mystery with a great cultural heritage. The area is a sacred sight for the four indigenous groups that inhabit the Sierra and it is called Teyuna Archeological Park also known as the “Ciudad Perdida”. This Park start from the mountains and slide down till the Caribbean see where you find Palomino.

Coming back to my story, I decided to meet this guy, because He seems a really great person and as Italian I couldn’t say no. In Italy when somebody invite you to his home, it is good habit to go and pass time there cooking for  an Italian dishes to thank for the invitation. I did it of course!

So stopped in Palomino. I searched a moto taxi asking to bring me to my friend and the drivers knew him and the place where he lived. He was not born in this area, so all the locals called him the foreigner.

After 10 minutes, we arrived and I was surprised! Such a beautiful and peaceful place… To let you understand the best thing I can do, is show you pictures, as my words can tell you what my eyes saw but better let you dream on my pictures, hoping you will enjoy them!

As you can see, I felt myself totally free and full of happiness. I was there and the time stopped for two days let me the time to steal the energy and the good vibrations of this place.

We spent the day drinking coffee, Colombian one. Locals love to pass all the day with a cup of good coffee in their hands smelling his flavor and enjoy a talk with a friend in front of it.
However, when the sun was going down we moved to cross the cocoa palm forecast and we went to watch the sunset from the beach.

Another surprise. We were at the end of the land where the river became part of the sea. You can take a bath in the fresh water or decided for the salt water.
We were almost alone because from Palomino village, it is a walk long 5 Km and not all the people love to walk so long.

After 2 hours, we decided to go back to my new temporary home because we were hungry. My friend asked what we would like to eat and I said fish! We called an angler of Palomino that arrived with this big fish ( many beers and a bottle of rum):

I had the honor to cook it! Wonderful! However, I can say that one of the amazing things of Palomino is the fresh fish you can find.

The second day I was with another guy, hosted by my friend to buy fish and after half an hour of searching and asking to local people we found some good, rural fish shops! Yes in Palomino you need to talk with locals to find the best food and activities to do.

We spent a good night there forgot by everyone, talking and drinking all together. Anyway, you can pass the night in the village, that did not have a crazy nightlife, but there were plenty of bars where friendly travelers chat, enjoying tropical cocktails and cheap beers.

The day after I decided to go for a rafting, a typical activity to do in Palomino as there are many rivers and one of that is perfect for an easy rafting. You rent inner tubes, ride with them on the back of a moto taxi up into the jungle, hike a bit further, and then float back down to the beach on a river. Everywhere you go in town there are booths offering to rent tubes. You pay around 5 Euro.

In conclusion, I can say Palomino was unexpectedly a nice place to pass 2 days and after restart with my journey!