Man, every now and then I look at this thread and I'm so jealous!
Several years ago, I spent a few months traveling through Brazil, so just some hints of what I found to be really enjoyable:
- In Florianopolis, we stayed in a backpackers hostel right at the coast, which was really cheap and nice. Most importantly, they had a few wetsuits that you could borrow for free - but only ~5 or so and it was first come, first serve, so we set our alarm clocks to 6am to grab them and went surfing all day (they also had free surfboards IIRC).
- Florianopolis has some great dunes where you can try sandboarding if the weather permits.
- I see you already picked the right choice for Iguacu - the Argentinian side is much better. Depending on how much time you have on that day and how crowded it is, there's a small, hidden waterfall just a ~2km walk away from the big tourist attraction. It was marked on the map you get inside the park, but there were only a handful of people there - you might want to check this out. The main perk is that you can swim in the small lake and swim right under the waterfall, which is amazing!
- In Pantanal, we booked a trip with one of the various camps; we did some activities like horse riding through the swamps, fishing piranhas, a boat trip, and so on. The most awesome thing though was the stay in the camp itself: we slept in hammocks basically in the jungle (in small open huts that were a bit elevated off the ground, only protected by mosquito nets). It was absolutely mind-blowing. Problem is, you're going there a bit too early - the water level is still quite high so I'm not sure which activities are possible there at this point, as everything is still flooded I believe (we went there in September/October or so). We started in Campo Grande as well, so you might find some offers there. Of course those trips are a bit more touristy than what you usually do - but Pantanal is an incredible area which you cannot explore on your own, so you need a guide anyways. And I'm sure sleeping in the jungle in hammocks for a few days would be something you'd be interested in, it's not like you're staying in a five star hotel there ;-)
Not sure how to answer you question - we went to Campo Grande by bus (16h from Sao Paulo) and from there it was a 3-4h road trip through the (then dry) roads of Pantanal, done by the organization we booked the trip with. I can't find their name anymore, but not sure if they even still exist since that was several years ago - you might just check Tripadvisor or Lonelyplanet forums for advice, or maybe book it spontaneously when you're in Campo Grande.
The lack of internet and partly bad weather in El Chaltén allowed me to finish the next two videos! This is the first one and since I didn’t spend a lot of time in El Salvador, it is pretty short as well I will start my cruise to Antarctica today and you will hear back from me in about 10 days!
The lack of internet and partly bad weather in El Chaltén allowed me to finish the next two videos! This is the first one and since I didn’t spend a lot of time in El Salvador, it is pretty short as well I will start my cruise to Antarctica today and you will hear back from me in about 10 days!
I arrived in Puerto Natales and will start a five day hike in Torres del Paine tomorrow! The weather looks good and I can’t wait to have a walk without pouring rain all day long like the last one to Cabo Froward near Punta Arenas. As mentioned earlier, I finished two videos while crossing the Drake Passage to Antarctica and this is the second one. Honduras had a lot to offer and I especially liked the Tucan that tried to steal my Marshmellows in Macaw Mountain and of course, my very first diving sessions in Utila! Hope you like the video
25/04/2015 I think recent event’s here in Chile justify a small special live update from the front. Just two hours after I left Puerto Montt towards Chiloé last Wednesday, Volcan Calbuco erupted and caused airport’s to be shut down and the evacuation of 4.000 people in a 21km radius. You can see a YouTube Video from the spectacular event here. After spending a few days away, I arrived in Puerto Varas yesterday and am currently stuck here because the border to Argentina is closed. The volcano is constantly producing a lot of smoke, but a third major eruption did not happen yet. I will keep you updated on Instagram and hope that my flight from Bariloche to Buenos Aires on the 30th of April will not be cancelled!
29/01/2015 Volcan Calbuco erupted again but luckily the wind did not blow the ash to Bariloche, so my flight last night to Buenos Aires was not cancelled! I am here now and will try to get a nice Argentinean BBQ organized This update reports from my failed attempt to climb Cerro Chirripó in Costa Rica!
I had planned for a 40km overnight hike to Cerro Chirripó in a single day due to limited time, so wearing in the hiking boots first by doing a short 6km hike in the Cloudbridge reserve just next to the Chirripó National Park seemed like a good idea. The weather was pleasant while we hiked through the jungle, crossed a few waterfalls and had a little dip in the freezing cold water of the river. I also found two solid wooden sticks that I would use for the hike to Cerro Chirripó for midnight.
We stayed in a very nice hostel called Casa Mariposa, I can only recommend checking it out! It is also conveniently located just next to the entrance of the National Park. Staying at the same hosteI was an American guy called Nathan, who had the same plan for the Cerro Chirripó. So obviously we joined forces and met up at midnight while everyone was sleeping, trying to sneak up the mountain. We both had no permits, hoping that no one would check up on us now! To our big disappointment, just 50m after leaving the hostel, a group of six people waited for us at the entry point and while I first thought it was just another group to go up with a guide, they were actually there to check for the permits in a pretty unfriendly way
Since the hike did not work out, I decided to get down into town to buy a pizza instead in the evening! Someone in the hostel told a story about huge pizzas for just 3500, giving me enough motivation to start the long hike through the jungle, into town and then onwards to the other end of the town. I actually found the place but they would only sell pizzas for 7000! I told them I only have 5000 and they gave me a special deal, making me leave with an actual big (not huge for my appetite though) pizza It took me about 40 minutes to walk uphill all the way to the hostel again while eating half of the pizza already and watching fireflies around me in the dark jungle
01/02/2015 I made it to country No. 54 (Uruguay) and will travel from Colonia to Montevideo today. This update is the last one from Costa Rica and the Corcovado National Park was actually my highlight of the overall a little bit disappointing Costa Rica.
We took the 5:15 AM bus from San Gerardo de Rivas to San Isidro and just barely made it there for the 6:30 AM bus to Puerto Jimenez; a five hour journey that would take us to one of the entry point of the Corcovado National Park. There were a few options to enter the park and we choose to stay with Bolita, which is basically a little wooden house in the middle of the jungle without any road connections. Their office is at Dos Bratos and from there it took another 45 minutes walking through a nice scenery to arrive at the hut. There was no electricity and the sound setting in the middle of the jungle was just amazing!
After a first quick walk around the area to a nice valley including Macaws and lots of other animals, we returned to Bolita in the afternoon to have enough time preparing the dinner while it was still light outside. The only source of light for later would be a candle because of the missing electricity. Six other people occupied the pleasant hut with us and instead of mosquitos (which are suddenly leaving the area in the darkness), we had lot’s of fireflies to look at. Finally we found ourselves in an actual real jungle without too many other tourists around, making the last days of Costa Rica the most enjoyable ones as well.
The next day was actually a really exciting one. Together with our guide Thomas, we would be the first tourists to enter a brand new hiking path called El Tigre, scheduled to officially open four days later. The new path offers a cheaper alternative to enter the park from another side opposed to the more remote corners, involving hours of transportation to get to the starting point. In our tour, we saw a great deal of wild life as well as plants. Thomas did a great job finding and explaining everything, the highlight being a very poisonous Coral Snake just 3 meters away that would leave you six hours to reach a hospital for treatment in case you get bitten. Besides that, we saw lots of frogs, scarlet macaws, tucans, howler monkeys, all kind of other monkeys, lizards and animals I won’t even know how to describe them. There was also a pretty cool tree that you could climb up from the inside. So overall the seven (!) hour tour was totally worth the 50$ we paid each, usually it would be 65$ but since the park was not officially opened, we could avoid the 15$ entrance free.
After the guided tour, we hiked back up to the Bolita hut to spend another night there, meeting some really interesting people during dinner. I was now getting used to the pretty loud jungle sound around me and could sleep very well in the second night to be ready for a very early wake up call at 4:30 AM in the next morning, hiking down the path in pitch black darkness with our head lamps. I was headed to Panama next after crossing the beautiful Golf of Golfito and heard about the pretty tough border crossings from Costa Rica. So thanks to tip of the owner of Bolita, I came very well prepared and presented an American Airline Ticket from Panama City to Frankfurt (which was just on hold and I did not have to pay anything for it, letting it expire automatically after 24 hours) as well as plenty of cash, leaving me with no problems whatsoever to enter Panama.
Time for the next video! The Stone Man Alberto Gutierrez already received a special video a few months back; now I can present the rest of Nicaragua – one of my favorite countries in central america actually! Check it out for the awesome Volcano Telica & Isla de Ometepe, and of course it also features some GoPro footage of the infamous volcano boarding at Cerro Negro Hope you like it!
05/02/2015 I made it safe & sound to Brazil and already visited two great spots in the south’s nature: Itaimbezinho Canyon and Caracol Falls! More on that in about three months or so when I will probably reach Brazil in my Live Updates Now it’s finally time to cover the last country of my Central America trip! Panama exceeded my expectations and it all started in Boquete, hosting a Jazz & Blues Festival at the time and some really nice hikes in general.
As mentioned before, I came very well prepared to the border of Panama after crossing the Golf of Golfito in Costa Rica; presenting an American Airline Ticket from Panama City to Frankfurt (which was just on hold) as well as plenty of cash, leaving me with no problems whatsoever to enter Panama. Once in the country, I had to get to David first and then change into another chicken bus towards Boquete in the north. Everything worked out smoothly and in Pension Topas, I even found a last second accommodation during the busy Jazz & Blues festival weekend. I actually ended up sleeping in a tent because all rooms were booked out, but thanks to the very nice German owner, the tent has been very comfortable with a lot of sheets and pillows.
It was already getting a bit cold in Boquete, mainly due to it’s higher elevation, and going for a swim in Topas’ pool was certainly a good way to wake up in the morning. I had big plans that day, trying to hike as much as I could from the Quetzales Trail. Doing it from East to West and starting in Boquete takes a long time, as the trail gains over 1000m in elevation. I originally planned to take a collectivo to the starting point but then opt in to walk because of the fact that nobody else wanted to share the collectivo, leaving me with a pretty high price on my own.
Walking up there was actually really nice, passing Mi Jardín es Su Jardín on the way and enjoying it’s free garden. I eventually made it out of town and soon after got a ride actually for about ten minutes, getting me to the starting point of another little excursion: The lost waterfalls hike. I hiked up the muddy path and eventually reached a little booth. There was a charge to enter and getting to the last waterfall was supposed to take a long time, making me turn back while enjoying the splendid views across a nice valley. Getting up here was actually worth just for that view!
I continued the hike uphill along a street with some cool climbing areas nearby, sadly I had neither shoes nor ropes or a climbing partner with me. The path finally turned into the jungle and all of the sudden it started to rain pretty heavy. I was crossing the river several times and trying to stay in good spirits while the rain constantly battled down on me. No other people could be seen anywhere until about one hour later, when a french couple told me that they had turn back because of the rain, mud and probably very bad visibility on the lookout.
Eager to check out the situation myself, I walked into the actual really muddy jungle path for another hour, motivated by the stopping rain and periodically peaking out sun. After a while the sun disappeared again and I had to keep the time in mind, stopping me just before a bigger river crossing. I was out there without a tent and had to get back the roughly 24km to Boquete on the same day. After leaving the jungle and entering the road again, I saw a collectivo waiting and ended up taking it this time since it was already half full. My feet were certainly happy about that decision and I made it back to Boquete early enough to enjoy the town’s Jazz & Blues Festival for a little bit. One older gentleman looked like Gandalf’s secret brother and certainly had the best mood of all people in town, I am sure you are able to spot this guy in the video
09/02/2015 Waiting for the border to re-open after the weekend and about 23 hours in the bus coming from Paraguay left me with only two days here in Bonito, Brazil. It’s safe to say I made the most out of the first day by visiting the amazing Rio da Prata. If you ever wondered how it feels to swim in an aquarium, check this place out! Panama City has been a big surprise on my trip through Central America. I had no idea how nice it is there, especially the skyline really impressed me. Check it out in this post for some pictures, along with the famous Panama Canal
There is something really special about Panama City – at least in my eyes Parts of it feel like the usual Central American towns I have seen and visited so often in the past months; but other parts, such as the great skyline at the waterfront, reminded me a lot to more modern cities. It was the last big city before heading to Colombia via the San Blas Islands and also the time of Carnival, adding just a little bit of spice to my visit as well.
I was only able to spend a few days in Panama City because of a spontaneous trip down south towards Las Tablas for what was supposed to be the craziest carnival party in Central America (more on that in the next post..). While in Panama City, I checked out the Cementerio del Rosario, a cemetery with a great ambiance close to some of the poorer areas in town – make sure you don’t wander around in the wrong streets here as some locals warned about possible dangers there. I liked it there, having a huge run-down building just behind it. There was also some nice street art in the city and of course the old town, which contains pretty buildings along with some nice views on the skyline.
Checking out the Panama Canal was obviously a must-do as well. The Miraflores lock provide the easiest access if you are short on time (like me) and I got there at 09:30 AM to see the last ship of the morning passing through the locks. It is quiet impressive to see how it works, but really in the end it was not much more than a huge version of the canals close to my old neighbor hood in London Paying 15$ for it was just within the boundaries to not make me feel bad about spending it.
My personal highlight, however, was a walk up the hill of the last island at the end of the Amador Causeway. It was actually forbidden to go up there, but sometimes it is good to ignore little signs like that if you are rewarded with an amazing panoramic view across the City, along with some cool remains of World War 2 bunkers and some wildlife. One huge Iguana crossed the plateau just when I got there and I barely could catch him on video, sadly I don’t have a good photo. There were also hundreds of birds gliding above and enjoying the amazing sunset as well as a huge spider with really nice colors – I got that one on a photo at least!
The carnival in town was pretty big, but not really impressive if you would look for a big party. Probably it was too early and unfortunately, I had to get up really early to start my trip to the San Blas Islands in the next morning. But at least I could see the skyline at night one more time; add a firework and I get myself a great ending to the chapter Panama City.
16/02/2015 I’m back from the Brazilian Pantanal, feeding Caimans and Eagles on a Boattrip and spotting countless animals along the road. The area around the capital of Brasilia is next for me, but first it is time to release the last update from Panama and thereby wrapping up all of Central America! Cruising the San Blas Islands towards Capurganá in Colombia is probably the best way of crossing countries, just after going on foot through the Gap of Darien of course; this true adventure seemed to be a bit too risky at the time though and I promised my mom to stay safe. If you are in the mood for some photos of picture perfect isolated beaches, check out this update!
Getting to the port village north of Panama City took a little while. First, the 4×4 Jeep came half an hour late at 05:30 in the morning and then struggled to find the last missing person, which turned out to be someone I actually met months ago in Nicaragua climbing Volcan Telica! Everyone else in the vehicle booked the 5 days sail cruise and I was the only one with the 4 days speed boat cruise, which focuses more on staying on the islands. Luckily it was all sorted out and I later changed into another jeep, getting me to the right departure spot of the speed boats
The ride in the boats was very bumpy, resulting in a lot of splash water in my eyes and a painful butt after a while. Our first ride luckily didn’t take too long, after around 45 minutes we reached a tiny island to relax, play volleyball and go snorkeling. Lot’s of clouds were hiding the sun sadly but everyone still had a great time getting to know each other – we were actually a group of about 28 people or so, split down in two speed boats. We continued the ride to a bigger island, on which we would spend the night as well. It featured a few huts on the sand with a bunch of hammocks for us gringos, as well as some more the people living there.
Did you know that every coconut on the San Blas Islands belongs to a person and you can only get one if you pay a dollar? Well, now you do. I was not really interested in coconuts anyway. The actual food provided for us from our tour company was created in a joint effort of our guides and the local family and I have to say: It was pretty damn impressive! We would get a huge all-you-can-eat buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner and not only was it much more than we could possibly consume, it was also amazingly fresh and delicious! We also got rum punch every night, followed by more drinking of stuff that everyone bought on the mainland. Add a guitar, really nice people and you don’t want to leave that place anytime soon again!
The second day welcomed us with a lot of sunshine – the last thing that was missing to make this trip perfect! Everyone was in a great mood, sunbathing, chilling, playing games and socializing. It felt a little bit like being on the island from LOST – just without all the drama and mystery We were not alone on the island either, more and more sail boats anchored around us and paid us a visit. One group was actually a Kite Surfing tour, doing some kind of documentary. Although the weather was really nice, the forecast regarding the wind actually made us stay for another day on the island.
The evening was perfectly commencing with the rum punch after dinner and I got to know three new drinking games (I liked “21” a lot), which resulted in hilarious situations once everyone was pretty much drunk. I will spare you with the details and am sure the people involved will agree We had a lot of fun, some actually a bit more than others and causing a little bit of a problem. I didn’t think it was a big deal, but the tour operator felt differently and actually removed one Australian dude (joined by his girlfriend) from the island for bad behavior while he had a bit too much to drink. It was a shame because I was actually getting along with them very well and would meet them afterwards in Colombia again.
On the next day we had to catch up on some ground after being stuck on the first island for 2 nights. The resulting two hour boat ride was not really comfortable but despite all the splash water in our faces, everyone was still in a great mood because we spent two amazing day on a beautiful isolated island. We had a nice lunch break on the island that was supposed to be our home for the second night and spent about three hours there. Enough time to take the snorkel and swim over to one of the nearby islands. There are actually about 365 islands in the San blas and only 49 are inhabited. It was great to be able to swim to another tiny island and go exploring.
One problem we were all facing I suppose was the fact that there were no fresh water showers around. Even my short hair started to be sticky after constantly being in the salt water without having a way to get the salt off afterwards. Well, certainly a problem everyone would like to have I guess – at least if it’s not for weeks or even months Eventually, it was time to move on to our last destination: A Kula village with roughly 800 inhabitants. Houses are built on stilts along the waterfront and married women wear traditional clothes and jewelry, which actually looked really nice I have to admit! Especially the kids were really excited to see us, being very happy and playful.
Experiencing how the local indigenous people on the islands live was a great way to end the trip! The last dinner at a local restaurant, though, was not nearly as good as they stuff our guides prepared and also the portion was pretty small. At least for my appetite After partying a lot in the last nights, everyone was a bit tired now and took it easy in the last night. We were sleeping in the village and had rooms full of (uncomfortable) hammocks as well as a really cool outdoor bathroom, in which you can see how fish take care of your business as you just poop into the water. Sounded strange at first but I have to admit I was never entertained more sitting on a toilet!
We ended the (amazing) trip by arriving in Colombia’s northern border town Sapzurro, which can only be reached by boat. We got our passports stamped, luggage checked and eventually arrived in Capurganá. I did not know much about this place first but luckily found out that it was supposed to be one of Colombia’s most remote and best diving location, making me decide to actually spend two nights there before heading onwards to Cartagena. The next live update will show you if it was really that good as I took down my first fun dives after the PADI Open Water Certification in Utila, Honduras
After finishing up my live updates from Panama, I can now present the video from Costa Rica. Although it was my least favorite country in Central America, it does not mean that the trip wasn’t good! In fact it actually was quiet nice, especially watching sea turtles lay eggs and doing some canopy as well as the obvious hikes through tropic rain forests.
19/02/2015 After a few days of amazing hiking in the Serra dos Orgãos around Petrópolis and Teresópolis, I am now back in Rio de Janeiro and ready to watch the Champions League finale at the beach followed by hopefully an awesome sunset at Praia do Aproador. This update will commence a new country and continent, arriving in Colombia’s border town of Capurganá, which can not be reached by car and is famed to be one of the best diving spots in Colombia; giving me a very good reason to do my first fun dives after my PADI Certification in Utila
The small boat ride from Supzurro at the border to Capurganá was charged with $5, a lot for the 10 minute ride! You can also do a two-hour hike over the hill to reach the little village, a much cooler way to arrive certainly; just a little bit problematic if you want to make it to Capurganá quickly in order to reserve a spot in one of the nicer hostels. After splitting up in groups and checking our options, we decided to settle down at Dive & Green for $20.000 Pesos per night – they give you an discount if you dive with them, which we obviously did because of the great spots around here. In the evening we met up with everyone from the San Blas Island Cruise again to have an all-you-can-eat dinner. Having been used to great food from those guys, I happily paid the 10$ and was looking forward to eat at least three pizzas! Unfortunately, the food was VERY limited in the end and everyone was only able to get just three small slices and a bit of pasta. I felt a bit cheated after that
We woke up early the next morning to get ready for our two early morning fun dives! Paying 80$ for two tanks is an okay price I guess, especially in an remote place like Capurganá, which only has two diving facilities as well. The other one offered as a better price, however Dive & Green looked much nicer and more professional and we were not disappointed at all! The first dive was a bit boring, at least for me, since the beginning did not offer a lot and I ran out of air about 15 minutes before the other, more experienced, divers! I really have to work on my breathing technique, something that is totally normal to beginners according to our dive master.
For the second dive we ventured into an early called “La Cueva” and it was absolutely amazing! Even though only the advanced divers in our group were allowed to dive all the way through the tiny cave, eventually popping out of a small hole again, it was still a great experience for me to at least enter the cave and look around a bit before heading back to the entrance again. Really cool stuff! I was again running out of air a bit faster than the rest, but lasted longer than in the first dive. Maybe at some point I can get the opportunity to finish the advanced course and work on that issue.
After a long night’s sleep, I explored the town a little bit on the last day before heading out to Necoclí with a small motor boat, which was labelled as a ferry. It was a bit weird to pay a guy on the street and then wait for a long time until it finally arrived with a big delay, I was a bit afraid of being the victim of a scam but apparently it was the normal way it works over there The two hour ride was very uncomfortable but also a lot of funny since we were constantly jumping into the air due to very high waves. Sometimes it really looked like we would flip over but it never happened. My camera bag (secured in another garbage bag) was very wet afterwards, including all my money and passport.
Necoclí looked like a real cool places to hang out for a while, however I decided to join a group to start a series of bus journeys, eventually arriving to Cartagena in the evening. I used the window seat and air in the first bus to dry my passport bit while trying not to hit my head too many times since the bus was really speeding. We arrived at the bus station in Monteriá at 19:30 after squeezing all four of us including backpacks into a tiny taxi, just missing the last bus. Luckily, the argentinean guys in the group managed to get a good private van deal for 40.000 instead of 55.000 pesos and we could leave at 20:30, finally arriving in Cartagena at 1AM! Nearly all hostels were booked out the three of them got the last spots in one of the hostels while I ended up in Casa Vienaa for 28.000 pesos, which seemed to be the cheapest option and they had one more spot free! I went out for some drinks with a few germans I ran into before getting some sleep somewhen around 3 or 4 AM
23/02/2015 My time in Brazil is slowly coming to an end after almost two months and exploring Santuário do Caraça as well as colonial towns such as Ouro Preto was another great experience. I barely had internet in the last days, but now I can finally get a quick update out. Santa Marta has been an amazing base for a lot of different things in the northern coast of Colombia; one short side trip in a Jeep took us up the mountains to a small village called Minca.
I had to bear through another long bus ride with Colombian music videos featuring local music and ridiculous half naked girls to arrive in Santa Marta at 7pm. The drop bear hostel was just 3km away from the Bus station, so I decided to walk over there in a creepy atmosphere, a thin layer of mist covering the ground in the dark. The hostel turned out to be pretty amazing, featuring a huge swing, really nice game room and very comfortable, clean and big dorms. Since it was pretty hot in Santa Marta, I jumped into the swimming pool to cool off before heading off with my new four buddies from Australia to explore the mountain village of Minca in the next morning.
We made a deal with a Jeep driver to get us up there and picked up another guy on the way: Tristan from England. Seemed like a cool guy and just jumped off another bus when we were about to leave town to head into the mountains. Once there, we started the 45 minute walk to the local waterfall. I paid 3000 to get in and 2000 for a beer (instead of 3000, pero no tengo mas!! – haha) and we enjoyed the nice water for a while before heading back down.
The town itself is not so spectacular, what makes it really enjoyable though is the surrounding landscape. And because of that reason, I decided to quickly run to a viewpoint while the rest waited for the Jeep to bring us back again. After running into the wrong direction first, I finally found it but was not too impressed by the view. Still a nice workout running around in that altitude hehe When I made it back to the center of the village, everyone was already waiting in the Jeep for me to squeeze in on the last tiny spot in the back.
We made it back to Santa Marta at nightfall and dropped off at the supermarket to store up for the trip that everyone was looking forward to already: Tayrona National Park. This next update will certainly be a much bigger one – I could even do some really nice Bouldering there!
25/02/2015 Tayrona National Park should ring a bell for a lot of people, forming one of the most spectacular coastlines in Colombia. About four months ago, I spent a few nights there and can finally present you my story wandering through the beaches, doing some great bouldering and exploring the “mini” lost city Pueblito
I arrived at the entrance of Tayrona National Park around 11:00 after being stuck in traffic with the public bus. First off, you need to watch a video and actually receive a ticket as proof that you saw the video – without it you won’t be able to buy your entrance ticket. I met a few people in line that had to go back to get the ticket as it is not very obvious. The line was not really huge, but thanks to the fact that only two people sold tickets, I ended up waiting over an hour to get my ticket, leaving me enough time to make new friends which would explore the park with me together We finally were able to pay the 40.000 Pesos entry fee and started to walk along the paved road and hiking path for an good hour before arriving at Arrecifes beach. You can also take a shuttle for more than half of that trip if you are short on time.
The landscape at the first beach was nothing short of impressive, combining an awesome beach with huge boulders and a thick jungle in one spot! It was also very hot in February and walking in the sand did not make it any easier. None of us had any spot to sleep yet and the little group split up a little bit, me ending up with a German couple at a place called Finca don Pedro, offering Hammocks for 12.000 per night after some negotiating – a pretty decent price! We relaxed for the rest of the day before heading down to the beach for sunset. It actually took about 15 minutes of walking to get there, but we preferred to be up in the jungle a little bit and would then stay right at the beach for the second night.
Having all those boulders around, I decided to grab my climbing shoes and make my way to the beach for sunrise in the next morning. I arrived at 6AM, just a few minutes before the sun came out of the cloudy sky. Barely any people could be seen along the huge beach line and I came back to one huge boulder I spotted the day before. Some nice cracks and the sand offered me two great easy routes (V1 and V2 I’d say) which I could do without using a crash pad. It was so much fun to finally climb again and I ended up staying for 2 1/2 hours in that one spot before heading on to find some more boulders further down the beach.
I was able to find some, but actually ran out of time, because I really wanted to see Cabo San Juan as well, being the most famous beach in the Tayrona National Park. Arriving at the check-in, my plan was to get myself a nice spot in one of the hammocks for the night already. However, rumors turned out to be true and they did not sell any spots until 2PM, which was 5 hours away by the time I got there! I had no intentions to wait that long and decided to find another spot while checking out the really amazing coast line over here. Walking up to a little hill towards the more expensive hammocks offered a great view, perfect beaches dotted with palm trees everywhere. Oh and guess what- I met my friends from Australia once again over here, they were actually sleeping at the beach last night
Since there was no other good place to stay the night at the beach, I grabbed all of my stuff and decided to walk towards the “mini” lost city “Pueblito” La Ciudad Perdida to then sleep in Santa Marta afterwards. It was really hot by the time I started the hike through the jungle and boulder fields and the journey turned into a sweat-fest. After doing some more bouldering within the forest area, the path constantly went uphill through more and more huge boulders. I had to squeeze under some of those as well and actually used some climbing techniques to get on top of some others with my backpack. All of that made the hike very physical challenging in the speed I progressed, but man how much fun it was hoping and crawling on top and under the boulders!
Once I arrived at Pueblito, I finally had time to rest and enjoy the pineapple I was bringing along. Drinking the rest of my 5L water canister, I realized that I was completely alone at the site and spent a few minutes exploring. It was really enough time as it was pretty small. Nonetheless, it was nice to see the terraces and it made me look forward to my hike to the actual lost city in the next days. My water ran out and I hurried up towards the main road and alternative access point of the Park. I quickly bought 3 bags of water there for just 200 each and entered the public bus, which was presently inspected by some police. That same procedure actually happened again two more times within just ten minutes of driving! It took a very long time to return to Santa Marta and to round this nice trip up, they would just drop me at the roundabout outside the city, forcing me to take another shuttle towards the hostel, where I could finally relax a bit and reflect on the amazing trip I just had!
27/02/2015 Sometimes you come along a place you had no idea it even existed and then find yourself at that very place the next day. This happened to me in the case of Palomino, a small cozy settlement not too far from Santa Marta in Colombia on the way to Riohacha. It is famous for tubing down the river Palomino and a great place to just relax and enjoy the calming effects of the ocean.
Once again I hopped into a bus from Santa Marta towards Tayrona National Park, but this time I would stay in the bus for a bit longer and get off at Palomino instead. I spotted a familiar face and strangely enough, it was Tristan – the guy we picked up with the Jeep on the way to Minca! He’s really nice, so I was glad to see him again and of course we joined forces. The ride took two hours in total and we started to walk through the sandy streets to find a place to sleep. One of the first places along the road was really rude, pushing us to sign in while I was still checking if they even had a working WiFi. Ending up in another, much nicer, place for 20.000 the night, I could finally start enjoying the relaxed atmosphere of the town.
I had no plans of doing the tubing myself, it just seemed to be much more enjoyable in a bigger group and Tristan was not so keen on it either. So instead I was walking to the point about 20 minutes away along the beach to see the groups coming in with the tubes. The beach there was really nice and because of it’s length, it actually feels like you are alone there. It is not a major tourist spot yet, so actually there are not too many people around and having a beach of that size certainly allows you to find a spot just for yourself.
I could see people walking towards me way in the distance, having their tubes on their back. It made up for a nice photo motive while the sun was slowly setting in the background. Arriving at the river Palomino, I could still see groups coming in with beers in their hand while the sun eventually went down, turning the place into a beautiful display of sunset reflections on the river. Walking to that spot just to see the sunset was already amazing, although I would have done the tubing as well in a bigger group.
Once again, I could negotiate the price for the bus ride and paid only 6000 to return to Santa Marta. Arriving there at 6PM, I made it to the water front just in time for another nice sunset. I had no CouchSurfer to host me so far and looked out for a place with WiFi. Sadly no one new came up to host me, so I decided to look for a cheap hotel instead. Meeting up with some CS for some dancing and drinks, I was told that the area of my hotel was a really bad one and the guys tried to convince me to go somewhere else. I already put my stuff in the room though and was too lazy to get it now.
After a great night out with some interesting Break dancing artists in one bar and then another awesome roof top party in a hostel, I made it back to my hotel at 3AM, wondering if something would happen. The only thing that happened were some homeless people asking for drugs and some prostitutes offering their service – nothing serious and nothing I could just thankfully decline The only thing that was a bit worrying was the fact that I had no key for the hotel and I was forced to ring the bell in the middle of the night. After 15 minutes of waiting, the not-so-amused owner finally opened the door and I could retreat into my smelly, hot (but very cheap) single room without any drinking water left and totally thirsty, looking forward to get out of this mess as soon as I can in the morning