What To See In La Guajira When You Spend 3 to 5 Days
Guajira sounds to me like no man’s land. What’s up there anyway? Spending 3 to 5 days in la Guajira made me feel like I was hundreds of thousands of miles away from Bogota.
This is the land where the desert meets the ocean.
Where it hasn’t rained in over five years.
Where once night falls, the only light you have to illuminate your path are the stars and the moon.
Welcome to La Guajira.
Traveling around it can be done by car. I have seen other tourists do it. However, I don’t know if I suggest it. I was told some areas were dangerous. But apart from that, past a certain point, there are no signs to indicate your way. No light to point you in the right direction. It’s just cracked, barren land and you.
It’s most recommended to hire a driver. In most cases, you’ll find plenty of tour options in Riohacha, the capital of La Guajira, all promoting very similar itineraries at about the same price.
Here’s a map of what a trip from Riohacha (the capital of La Guajira) to Punta Gallinas (the northernmost part of Colombia) looks like.
After spending a week in La Guajira, here is my experience and what I recommend you see in the desertic, magical and faraway land.
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Playas de Mayapo
Not usually on the itinerary, this beach is only twenty minutes away from Riohacha. I loved it because we were the only ones on the stretch of beach. The water was beautiful and the sand was clean. I didn’t spot any trash in the surrounding area unlike many of the other beaches that were included in the typical itinerary.
Salinas de Manaure
You are sure to stop here if you are on your way to Cabo de la Vela. Here, endless white salt mines meet the cloudless blue skies. It’s a sight for sore eyes.
The Wayuu capital. It is nothing but a small town littered with trash (sorry to say). This will basically be your last stop before you continue your ride up north to Cabo de la Vela to fill up on gas, pull out cash and fulfill other basic necessities.
Desert of Carrizal
The ride to Cabo de la Vela is truly spectacular. You cross the cracked ground of the desert of Carrizal, and stop to admire puddles that have turned pink due to high salt concentrations.
Perhaps you’ll spot a few children running out of their rickety, dusty shacks towards your speeding car to ask for anything you have to give them. Sometimes they might block the road with a cord and ask you for something in exchange to let you through. Be ready for this and pack a few sweets, snacks, and even water to hand out.
Cabo de la vela
A beach spot with a few huts, Cabo de la vela is ideal for windsurfing. You can come here for a few days to exclusively surf. Definitely an awesome plan, (but also quite pricey).
As part of your itinerary, you go stay in a simple but clean lodging. Don’t expect anything extraordinary in Cabo de la Vela anyways. Everything is plain and simple. If you’re into seafood, you might be offered the option of fresh lobster tails at dirt cheap prices! And if my memory doesn’t fail, I think it was about 20,000 pesos.
Other sand dunes and beautiful beaches
You’ll be taken to a couple of spots including Playas Ojo Del Agua, to take a dip in the ocean.
El Pilon de Azucar and the Mirador del Faro to admire the views of the ocean. My ultimate favorite were the Dunas de Taroa, a breathtaking spot where the desert melts into the ocean.
For us, spending two days in the desert was just enough. However, if you want to surf, consider getting to Cabo de la Vela on your own and spending as many days as you like. Or if you want to further explore the desertic lands of the la Guajira, a driver can take you all the way up to Punta Gallinas, one of the northernmost parts of Colombia.
You will learn that in la Guajira reside an indigenous group called the Wayuu. The indigenous Wayuu people live in communities is called rancherias. They are also those who make the fashionable Wayuu mochila bags.
And in the case that you want to pick one up, check out my awesome Wayuu bag website!
If you speak Spanish and want to learn more about the indigenous Wayuu people, as your accommodation or a tourist office if you can visit a rancheria or Wayuu community.
We took up the offer to visit a rancheria for a few hours and got the privilege to discuss with the head of the community and learn more about their culture and traditions. We sampled some of their food, discussed their day to day, their customs, and received a beautiful demonstration of a traditional dance called la yona.
Pink Flamingo Sanctuary of Fauna and Flora
Be aware! Although they say it is a pink flamingo sanctuary, these birds migrate and are not there year-round. Before you head over, have a local call the park to see it’s the right season to visit the park.
Silly us, we did not do such thing and went to the park only to spot one single flamingo flying away from us. A bit of a deception if you ask me.
And what about Palomino?
Palomino was actually much closer to Santa Marta and was a bit out of our way. After seeing so many beaches we assumed Palomino would be similar and decided to skip it for this time around.
Maybe next time!
Despite la Guajira being so poor, you’ll find everything surprisingly expensive (similar to Bogota), not only in terms of food, but also the price of tours and services. However it’s totally worth budgeting la Guajira in your Colombian trip as its contrast will definitely be an adventure to remember.