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Slow travel on Colombia’s Caribbean coast

With its incredible coasts, dazzling desert, roaring cities, vast coffee plantations, astonishing natural and historical formations, Colombia is on its way to becoming one of the most popular travel destinations. Thanks to recent political developments, Colombia’s dark past has been left behind, and the country’s natives are eager to share their vibrant culture “one salsa dance at a time”.

Before planning your trip, take into account that Colombia is a big country; evaluate without haste so that you can enjoy your trip to the fullest. If you’re after the perfect balance between exploration and relaxation, it might be wise to opt for a two-week Caribbean coast cruise from Cartagena that will take you to the far north of the country. Below you can find three lesser known slow travel destinations on the coast that you shouldn’t miss.

Minca: Colombia’s environmentally friendly green lung

Minca, which can be reached in five hours by road from Cartagena, is located in the Sierra Nevada mountain range; It’s a small village known for its lush green fields, organic coffee farms, walking paths, and temperatures much lower than those on the sweat-inducing shores. Home to just 800 residents and a surprisingly large group of young French expats, the eco-tourism gem Minca offers a wide range of activities to keep one busy for at least three days. The easiest way to discover Minca is to take a day trip with a local tour guide. Start your day by going hiking and discovering hidden waterfalls. The road may be a bit steep, but your efforts will be rewarded by diving into the cool waters and relaxing. In the afternoon, tour Finca Victoria, a coffee plantation that can hop on a motorcycle and drive itself, using water from mountain springs to power its generators. Not only will you learn all about coffee and coffee production, you will also taste a great cup of coffee at the end of the tour. Hop on a motorcycle again from Finca Victoria to Casa Viejas hostel, recently opened by three young French entrepreneurs, and enjoy an afternoon with incredible mountain views. For the rest of your stay, you can go on longer mountain excursions to the natural swimming pool Pozo Azul with its two small waterfalls, or to Los Pinos, where you will encounter a magnificent panoramic view of the mountains, coast and ocean. To slow down, we recommend spending a morning at Casa Elemento hostel in the farniente, one of the largest hammocks in the world. Casa Elemento not only offers you the opportunity to take pictures that will envy your friends, but also houses a unique restaurant that offers an exquisite and creative menu at extremely affordable prices.

You can reach all these destinations by motorcycles or 4×4 vehicles accompanied by experienced and local drivers. Since there are no real roads in these regions, the journey itself will turn into an adventure. But when the adrenaline in its consistency and the beauty of the bamboo forests come together, you will see that every minute of these trips is worth it. After hours of motorbike riding in the mountains, you can unwind with a drink and dinner at the hostel and restaurant called Mar y Monte. The night view of Santa Marta and twinkling lights on the shore will be the perfect setting to critique the day with other travelers. Only two minutes away from the village center, Eco-Habs, which offers its guests the opportunity to stay in cute cabanas surrounded by a lush forest, also guarantees you a night full of sweet dreams. This place is perfect for travelers looking for luxury accommodation options without failing to respect the nature around them. Breakfast is served in a beautiful restaurant overlooking the valley, where guests can have great opportunities to observe hummingbirds and other bird species.

La Guajira Desert

In less than three hours by road from Santa Maria is the La Guajira Desert, the northernmost part of South America. This is an almost untouched paradise that we can describe as the end of the world, inhabited by the Wayuu people. The colors of the desert, the waves crashing against the shore, the green oases, the blue lagoons, the stunning cliffs, the breathtaking sunsets… all these natural elements combine to form an unforgettable landscape. If you want to add even more color to this masterpiece of nature, plan your trip to coincide with the rainy season (September to December) and you will have the chance to observe the enormous number of pink flamingos living in that area. Don’t forget to visit Santuario de Flora y Fauna Los Flamencos, which is a 700-hectare nature reserve where approximately 10,000 flamingos are sheltered, 15 km south of Riohacha, the capital of the region. While it is technically possible to go to La Guajira on your own, scheduling a tour with a professional guide is highly recommended. Headquartered in Santa Marta, Magic Tour Colombia offers travelers five-day adventure tours that include transportation, accommodation, meals and activities. This company’s native guides aren’t just about geography to you; They are also ready to give information about the Wayuu myths and legends, the political structure of this people, and other interesting habits and events observed in this region.

Start your journey from the salt mine in Urbia, take a short excursion in Riohacha, then reach the first stop of your journey, the mini village of Cabo de Vela, which offers unexpected kitesurfing opportunities. This is the perfect spot to explore the region: climb the windy Pilón de Azúcar slopes for a stunning 360-degree view, swim on the beautiful Playa del Pilon beach backed by rocky cliffs, bask in the sunset on the golden slopes of Bahia Hondita, and enjoy the colorful handicrafts produced by the Wuyuu people. explore (and buy). Crafts include women’s dresses (mantas), handbags (mochilas), and hammocks (chinchorros). The sleeping part of the trip takes place in the Wayuu farm district, Posada Pujuru, under the stars (or nearly so), in large and comfortable hammocks. If you like to stay up at night, you can have one last delicious smoothie at the Pujuru Kite Surf bar next to the hostel, while unwinding with the soothing music of the place. Continue your journey to Punta Gallinas, officially the continent’s northernmost point and the Wayuu holy land, and spend the night in the Wayuu farm district, Luz Mila. Among the huge sand dunes kissing the turquoise waters of Playa Taroa or unwinding in Playa Dorada and watching the stars that surround you at night like a cathedral dome, you will wish that time could stop and you could enjoy this dazzling, wild nature forever.

Palomino: the ever-growing slow food hub

Are you after a peaceful beach atmosphere and taking time to slow down? Palomino boasts a prime location between the Sierra Nevada and the ocean, a beach with palm trees that looks like something out of a postcard, and a laid-back bohemian community of travelers. Many activities are possible in Palomino: yoga on the beach in the morning, hikes in the Sierra Nevada or “tubing” on the Palomino river in inflatable boats. The village is also a recommended base to start exploring the vast Tayrona Park, one of Colombia’s most popular parks. The most surprising aspect of Palomino, which has neither a bank nor an ATM, where the wireless connection is extremely bad, and which cannot be considered a city in terms of administration, is the slow growing food sector. Local organizations and slow food ambassadors organize events, workshops and food markets to raise awareness of the importance of the movement.

Want to add a touch of eco-design to your holiday? Book a day or two at the beautiful La Sirena Eco Hotel and enjoy the quaint cottages in the forest, the organic and vegetarian menu, the daily yoga classes. Also, next-door neighbor Casa Coraje partners with yoga institutions that offer extensive yoga retreats at different times of the year. This is just one of many reasons to add Palomino to your travel to-do list.


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