La Guajira Peninsula

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

My final Colombia excursion was out to the Guajira Peninsula, the finger of land curving over the eastern corner of Venezuela and pointing towards the Dutch ‘ABC Islands,’ Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao. I travelled to this remote corner of Colombia with Germán Escobar (Casa Platypus in Bogotá) and an Irish trio, Patrick Fleming (the Aluna Hotel in Santa Marta), his brother Jim and Jim’s wife Berry.

Cabo de la Vela - main street 542

▲ A dawn departure from Santa Marta, breakfast in Riohacha, switch from a minibus to a 4WD (the roads soon get bad and then very bad) and we spend the night at Cabo de la Vela. It’s a dusty one street town which has become popular as a remote beach retreat, we inspect the pretty bay at Playa del Pilón and retire to El Faro – the lighthouse – for sunset, but I’m somewhat less than impressed.
Playa del Pilón 542

▲ Playa del Pilón

Restaurant Marlene 300◄ The new day we’re really out in the wilds and then, in the middle of nowhere, we pull up at the delightful Restaurante Marlene and its abastos, a small shop. This corner of Colombia may be remote, but there’s excellent phone coverage, we’ve phoned ahead to order some very tasty prawns for lunch.

Restaurant Marlene shop 542

▲ The amazingly well stocked shop was like something out of another century.

Punta Gallinas beach 1024

▲ We continue beyond Punta Gallinas to check the amazing sand dunes sweeping down to the sea at Playa Taroa and then loop back to Punta Gallinas with its beautiful beach and cactus studded headlands.

The next day we continue to the actual ‘point’ of Punta Gallinas, the most northerly point in South America. From where it’s a long, rough drive to Nazareth, the entry point to the Macuira National Park at the end of the peninsula. It’s a reasonable sized little settlement – there’s a church, a hospital, even a library and a heavily fortified compound which we’re assured is the home of some local narco-profiteer – ‘three Hummers and a subterranean bunker’ we were told. Despite which I don’t think I’ve ever travelled down such lousy roads to reach a place of that size!

Nazareth beers 542

▲ And did we ever drink a lot of Polar Beer, this close to Venezuela that’s where the beer comes from and at rock bottom prices.