Cartagena and Santa Marta, the Boiling Oven of Colombia

17.08.2016 – 22.08.2016

Cartagena

We touched ground, thank you all magical and heavenly help we had during our boat ride!! 🙂 The first thing we need to do is book a hostel for the next 3 nights in Cartagena. As we browse through booking.com, we cannot believe that we found a room with PRIVATE bathroom and AC. For a reasonable price. Did we eventually die? Haha. Well, we didn’t, we just ended the phase of expensive hostel prices. And it makes us smile when we think of such small things as having a private bathroom or generally a room with more than 5m2, which let us feel like luxury backpackers. Travelling makes you start appreciating the small things, that’s for sure! 

And since the prices were literally the best for these hostel rooms in town, 6 of the 10 friends we made on our sailing boat booked a room there, too! The first day in Cartagena we spent more or less showering for hours to get rid of the sweat and salt from the boat, standing in front of the AC to admire and thank the inventor for it and in the evening we met our sailing friends for some Tapas. Cartagena is without a doubt so far the hottest place we’ve been to! The temperature in the subtropical region lies all year long between 29C and 32C and the humidity is +/- 80%. Even in the night the humid air and heat can be felt, a typical Caribbean coast city. For the next day we signed up for a free walking tour through Old Town, being really happy to actually find such a tour in Colombia. We learned a lot about the city itself, but also got a very personal point of view from the guide about the civil war and drug cartels in Colombia, particularly about Pablo Escobar. To cite our guide : “We have gone through hell in Colombia, but we wanna be better and have a better future for our kids. And with you guys who come visiting our beautiful country without fear, we have already improved so much! Please let your friends and family know when you return home, that Colombia is not the country it used to be 20 years ago, but it is warm hearted and welcoming, focusing on the future and not the past.”

Cartagena Old Town

Cartagena Old Town

Cartagena

Cartagena

Cartagena Old Town

Cartagena Old Town

After this tour we felt even better in Colombia – it is not a particular thing we could describe about this country  to explain why we liked it right away, but rather the feeling you get when you’re here…it’s simply amazing.

As we enjoyed Cartagena for 3 days, mostly spent in the Old Town, as it has beautiful small streets full of street vendors, musicians and artists and houses from where flowers almost grow down to the pavement, we decided to head a little bit further north and visit Santa Marta.

IMG_0790.

Hello :)

Hello 🙂

 

Santa Marta

Oh crap, why do we keep relying on the time indication of locals!? Our bus ride to Santa Marta was supposed to last 4 hours, of course we needed 6 hours… gladly, every bus ride sooner or later stops for a bathroom break where typically street vendors sell some candy or chips, we didn’t starve. 🙂 Arriving in Santa Marta late in the evening, the only goal for the first night was to get some dinner. Surprisingly, our hostel was really close to the main restaurant street in Santa Marta, where we ate delicioius falafel. When Cartagena had a heat factor of 12 on a scale of 1 to 10, Santa Marta was an 11! We felt this the next day when we left the hostel to stroll around the city… even in the morning, it is impossible to not sweat after 3 steps on the street. But there was a lot to discover, for example the Tayrona Nationa Park, which is why we had to get over it. Spoiled Europeans. 😉

Tayrona Indian in Santa Marta

Tayrona Indian in Santa Marta

Street Art

Street Art

One of thegreatest attractions around Santa Marta is most likely the trek to the Lost City, Ciudad Perdida Trek. Depending on your personal fitness, you’d hike in the mountains Sierra Nevada for 4-6 days to the lost city, spectacular ruins of an ancient indigenous town called “Teyuna”. It sounded very adventurous, especially because the nights are spent along the way in hammocks and the hike was supposed to be pretty challenging. Most people described the trail itself as doable, but what made it super tough are the weather conditions. The constant heat saps all your energy. In the end, we decided against the trek. The strongest reason was indeed the climate – we simply couldn’t imagine to handle 4-6 days on such a trek, since we’ve spent the past 2 months in regions with the same climate and were still not acclimatized to it. Another reason was that Ellen got sick and was knocked out for one whole day. Instead, we went to Tayrona National Park, a very different National park from the ones we’ve visited, since it is a combination of tropical forests and a part of caribbean coast to jump in the ocean! Of course we started our small hike at the perfect time for this climate: 12pm. It was freaking hot, so nothing new. 🙂 Nevertheless, we enjoyed walking through the area, seeing a lot of small geckos and even a snake! After 1,5 hours we arrived at the beach part of the hike, excited to jump in the ocean and get refreshed.

Tayrona National Park

Tayrona National Park

Having only a short break we continued to our final destination Cabo San Juan, from where we planned to get a boat to Taganga. Since we started our hike late, we also got there pretty late and realized that this was a big mistake. The last boats would leave in around 15 min, already almost full with people. At that point we’d say we had some experience with boats yet, but the boat ride which followed was one of the craziest, dramatic and unbelievable thrilling rides we’ve ever had. Not only was this small boat, made for 20 people completely overloaded with 32, we also had huge waves we needed to fight our way through! Everyone got soaking wet from the splashing water, girls were screaming from hitting the waves with the boat (I think it was a mix of joy and fear of dying) everyone was so glad when we finally saw the beach of Taganga after 1 hour. How did we even manage to get there without either sinking, crashing or killing our captain!? That was for now and ever really the last boat ride for us!

We decided that we were ready for a different climate and booked a flight with “VivaColombia” airlines (oh and sure, it didn’t work out at all due to a declination of both of our credit cards and eventually a non-working website, which is why we ran through Santa Marta on a Sunday trying to find a travel agency who could book the flights for us) which will bring us to the so called fridge of Colombia (spanish = nevera), which is the capital Bogotá! From 32C to 18C… thats why we’ve been carrying our long sleeves and jeans with us all time 😉

 

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