TRIP IN THE MAGIC GUAJIRA
One of the must-see and “Magical” places of Colombia, as the locals consider it, is La Guajira. Located in the extreme north of the country, a distant, isolated peninsula that extends into the Caribbean Sea that it shares with Venezuela.
What does Mágica La Guajira do? Many things, but the first thing that surprises the traveler who arrives by road from nearby Santa Marta is that in an instant he goes from the humid tropical jungle of the Sierra Nevada and the Tayrona territory to the desert region.
If you take a nap in the car while traveling, you could fall asleep deep in the jungle and wake up surrounded by cacti in the middle of the desert.
Leaving Riohacha, some forty kilometers away, we find Uribia, a small town that lives solely from smuggling, since it is located 70 km from the border with Venezuela.
The only paved road and the many uncovered roads are full of street vendors who advertise themselves by shaking a funnel with their hand and filling the tank of the car with plastic jugs for a few Colombian pesos, dollar or sovereign bolivar, yes, because here You have to be very good at math, because all three currencies are very easy to use. The Magic Guajira is like that … “you like it or you don’t like it.”
To get to Cabo De La Vela, one of the most interesting places in La Guajira, you have to travel 80 km with a 4×4 Jeep. It begins with an uncovered road in good condition that runs parallel to the railway line where coal is transported from the Cerrejón mines to Puerto Bolívar.
The last 20 km of sandy and muddy tracks where prickly pears and cacti reach considerable heights. It is the Desert of La Guajira, an impressive landscape with strong contrasts.
We are in the territory of the Wayúu, the indigenous people of La Guajira. A nomadic people who have lived for centuries in these deserts raising their own goats, fishing in the waters of the Caribbean and moving from one place to another in search of rain, which they store in wells called “jagüeyes”, because in this hostile land there are no water on the surface.
The Wayúu are one of the most homogeneous and least cultured ethnic groups in Colombia. Rough, tough people, reluctant to talk to foreigners and less to be photographed, who have survived in this wild corner with very little change in their lifestyle.
However, it is good to stock up on sweets and water, because on the way there will be encounters with the Wayúu children who stretch a rope to block the passage of the jeep to receive their reward, as if to claim ownership of the territory.
Once in Cabo De La Vela we can see Monte De La Vela, which gives its name to the promontory and which, of course, is shaped like a sail, the beautiful secluded beaches such as Pilón De Azúcar and Playa Del Pilón, Playa Ojo De Agua and the very special Rainbow Beach, where at some hours of the day, with each wave that breaks on the rocks, a rainbow forms.
Medium coves and golden sands bordered by arid cliffs of great beauty. At the end of the day we only have to go to the Lighthouse to enjoy a splendid sunset, with a show of colors.
The real adventure, however, begins if we decide to continue for another 6 hours along the desert tracks to reach Punta Gallinas and the Macuira National Park, the northern tip of the La Guajira peninsula, with the Punta Gallinas Lighthouse, which geographically it is the northernmost point of South America.
We do not let ourselves be scared by the kilometers to travel because the landscape will take our breath away all the way where the desert sand acquires indescribable colors. But above all we cannot miss the suggestive Hondita Bay where the mangroves plunge into its emerald green waters and the very famous Dunas De Taroa where the desert dunes plunge directly into the Caribbean Sea.