Off the beaten track in el Cabo de la Vela, La Guajira

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November 29th 2013
Published: November 30th 2013
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A desert paradise in the northeastern corner of my country

Before I start, I must warn travellers that El Cabo de la Vela is a place to be chosen if you fancy feeling cut-off from the world, the remoteness of being lonely while being surrounded only by courageous people like the Wayúus and five or six tourists; on top of that, you´ll have other good companions, yes, there will be you and the nature and a scorching sun, on a hot dry area, fancy that?

Shall I sense some anguish from your part? It shouldn´t be so, some people say that the dry Guajira might decide to keep you lost in its desert but this is only a saying.

Well, as I actually have a life and do not depend on Facebook or a mobile phone, I decided to forget everything and say yes to this adventure; so I gave it a go and let me tell you that it was a good call, after all, I was searching for this, a magical encounter which provided me with that peace of mind and relaxation needed for my inner self. The consequences of that reflection were felt once I finished the trip.

I suppose travellers who are looking for comfort will feel completely disappointed if they choose it as a destination as there is not even a sign of that, no fancy hotels or restaurants, or if they sell you the trip like that, laugh at the agency as you are very far from that reality.

Too isolated for many and dirty for others; yes, the latter is stated as El Cabo is built on the sand and not metaphorically, in fact, you will breathe sand and be soon covered in it, yes indeed, I remember standing on the desert and feeling those storms bathing us in sand, a nice sandy experience, indeed…DID I FORGET TO SAY SAND?

Travelling off the beaten track for once

Where shall I commence? As Baudelaire once said, beauty is the only thing that makes life less horrible than what it is, and that is true, this is what I literally experienced in el Cabo de la Vela. And I have to add that in order to make that beauty more worthwhile, you need to go far and find it by yourself and that´s what I did; somehow uncomfortable to access with the legs of other passengers knocking together with boredom, but once I was there, oh, yes, I felt that amazing sense of fulfilment.

After two hours from Riohacha on a 4x4 jeep collective rolling on an unpaved road, I was in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by growing cactus, more vegetation... less vegetation, wild beaches, sandy roads and lots of desert. Yes, there I was, finally making it to the fishing village called El Cabo de la Vela.

An off-the-grid destination

They say the remoteness of El Cabo is the reason why the place is not so packed of tourists, it may well be, but seriously there has been a lack of investment by the tourist authorities to come up with the hotel infrastructure and marketing required.

On my quest to make people know about Colombia, I was lucky to meet some Sweedish people in there at the restaurant and they were so satisfied with the trip they made. Thanks God, they had a Colombian guide who advised them to visit this destination as they had been in the country for 2 months travelling around and they were quite thankful to that guide for they say they had never heard about what they literally called it ¨this spectacular paradise¨.

Should I say this? well, yes, if you happen to read this, I have to say that lucky for you and us that it was not on that time that this year´s kidnappings took place. Yes, we all heard that two Spanish tourists had been kidnapped in that very place we were, just 2 weeks after our meeting. I cross my fingers so that this stops and people can come here without any fears of these horrible practices. What I can say is that I am so glad for the Spanish tourists and their families that they were eventually released.

Anyway, going back to my previous comment, I heard that the tourist objective of the place is to highlight its eco-friendly aspect but on a hindsight, I reckon that it is abandonment more than any other thing; in fact, I want to insist that it is like what happened in San Andres, it is just that the government has not invested in the place so that we can find sophisticated hotels or the paved roads some visitors have complained about. Maybe when they see eventually that this is a potential tourist destination, they might be able to focus on the place and proceed accordingly.

Undoubtedly, the treasure of La Guajira

La Guajira offers other tours such as Los Flamingos en Camarones, El Cerrejón, Mayabo which I will probably do later; but from them all, I knew I had to pick this one as its remoteness and tranquility would give me what I was searching for at that very moment.

I took a tour for two days and one night, we left very early; not a very early riser but just before 8 I was outside the hotel waiting for the van to take us to el Cabo. The tour package included breakfast, two lunches and one dinner. I think the food looked acceptable, the menu was obviously full of fish and there was some chicken too which I tried to avoid as I thought it wouldn't be that fresh, so I ate fish all
Repeat after me: NEARRepeat after me: NEARRepeat after me: NEAR

Freedom and a bad back. Oh my God, I´ve been teaching for too long, I am embedded in it, please offer me a different job somebody…helppp
the time for my own sake.

Even so, I was quickly fed up with the fish and the way how it was cooked, but who wouldn´t, right?; as I said, I didn´t have a choice but eat what I was offered. I guess if I made that trip again, I would make sure that I took some food and snacks with me. I remember my positive relaxation courses worked during that visit as I totally saw myself nibbling at chocolate cakes, yoghurts, ice cream, you see, visualisation works! The good thing is I had taken lots of water or else, I could dehydrate quite easily.

A desert Paradise

The tour sellers are always telling you that you need to buy the package quickly to ensure the tour group is complete or that if you don´t take it, they will have to go without you, is that patronising or acting out on your guiltiness. They say you are the last buyer -just the one they need to leave straight away- as the trip -according to them- is almost fully booked. You sort of feel you are getting a bargain, hehe, so
Repeat after me: FARRepeat after me: FARRepeat after me: FAR

Far, far, somewhere in the world
you are like the last piece of their puzzle.

Oh, yeah, I remember them telling us that one of the travellers in the tour was a lady on a post-operation condition that we had to pick up at the hospital and that we had to go straight away; afterwards, looking at the great condition of the only lady in the group, I must say that they swindled me into buying the tour quickly. But never mind, this is just their trick to sell the trip.

The two-hour ride was nice, lovely landscapes of sandy dunes and thorny cactus around. We had some stopovers to stroll a bit and take pictures on the Ahuyama Desert, which I quite enjoyed.

Basic accommodation, obviously

Once you get there, you can´t help but wondering how they made it to house tourists in such improvised cuchitriles. Sorry, I deliberately wanted to use the Spanish word as it adds the sense of what a cuchitril is, I guess you translated like a shack. There is one street full of hostels providing you with basic accommodation, oh, yes, only one street so you won´t get lost in El Cabo looking for directions, you can lose yourself, that´s true, but in your thoughts, no more.

Sleeping just in front of the beach was great. on a basic hammock to sleep away your worries, i say worries because according to the Wayúus, who call this place JEPIRRA, the souls of the people dying go there before making it to other worlds, although I didn´t see any of those, I was very conscious of what I had heard.

Anyway, do not expect to find fancy hotels with lots of water or anything; for once, this is a trip whose main highlights are the desert and the sea, for another, the fresh water there is brought from La Guajira and it´s easy to imagine how expensive it would be to use extra water for a bath or have more comfort. This is what it is: They hung the hammock for you to swing perpetually or at least the whole night, and that´s all you have, no mosquito nets, sprays or anything, just some wood cabins with access to the tranquility of the playa, brisa y mar and the lovely starred sky.
These are your hotelsThese are your hotelsThese are your hotels

I suppose we are lucky in a way that it hash´t become a worldwide destination yet

You see, in a way, and although this might sound contradictory to what I wrote previously, I think the beauty of the Cabo de la Vela is that it has been kept as natural and environment-friendly as possible.

A quite colourful trip

I am not joking, in there, the background, the silence provides you with the perfect venue to encounter your inner feelings as you embark on a trip to getting to know more about yourself. Well, at least, I can say it firsthand seriously. Given the contrast of colours, the place is also ideal if you want to shoot good photos, anyone there can become a photograph expert as the background looks lovely in every shot. I hope you won´t contradict me after you see my photos, I feel proud but you know, you always think the best of yourself.

And yet, looking at the pictures of other bloggers, I sort of feel ashamed, well, I might need to invest in a better camera, that will do the trick 😊

It might look for some like an abandoned place but the views of the sea and the desert are just breathtaking. Regarding the remoteness of the place, although it is a long way of open sandy roads, I think this is the dream of a trip if you want to sort of have the whole beach to yourself, and the beaches are magnificent, you might have to walk a bit to get there, but you´ll enjoy the walk and the sun.

Some highlights

Pilon Beach

On day 2, we woke up quite early and went off to another beach called The Pilón, I loved it as it is quite spectacular, I guess it is the best beach on this lovely venue, described as a gold-sand beach by some tourist guides. It provides the whole combination, lovely colours of the sea, crystal water, excellent desert sensations

The background was lovely, the sandy cliffs assuming different colours from the reflected combinations of the sea and the scorching sun is an amazing spectacle.

The Lighthouse

Going there was a nice experience, the sunset at the Lighthouse (Faro) was indescriptible, I understand now why it is a must on the itinerary. You sit there, looking at the horizon and the beautiful rainbow colours and then you wonder why you get so worried about life sometimes if you have there the secret of happiness, so much beauty in a single spot, that´s awesome.

The Ahuyama Desert

The sort of sandy storms were fun, i couldn´t help but thinking of the description of Pablo Coello in The Alchemist. And I don´t know if jumping is an spontaneous thing once you are there but I saw other people doing it and just felt like it, I am glad I did. Going back to my childhood was a remarkable feat, although I must say that the child in me hash´t departed just yet and I am not 24 anymore.

Playa del Ojo de Agua

A beautiful contrast of water, sand and cliffs

Well, well, the verdict

Well, if you wish to hole up from somebody, go to El Cabo de la Vela, they might take some, some time before they trace you and after they are all covered in sand, they would drop it. You see, a western scenario for a Spielberg film, a shame they already did Escobar.

No, seriously, I completely recommend it if you want, as me, to escape from it all and find some time and space for yourself. The only complaint I would have is that if they wanted to make it so eco-friendly, the first thing they should´ve thought of was to actually place bins for the trash that tourists have. That explains the complaints that some more well-educated tourists make when they visit the place. Please do something about it!!!

I wish I had had more free time to do the other tours as that of Punta Gallinas, Cerrejon and the Flamingo tour looked so riveting, but unfortunately my scarce three-day trip had come to an end. Please tell me if you do.

Additional photos below
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2nd December 2013
These are your hotels

Beautiful landscape
Wow, it makes me dream...
2nd December 2013
These are your hotels

Beautiful landscape
Hehehe, yes, I am sure that you will enjoy it lots as it is being in peace with nature.

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