Finally it was time to head to the Caribbean coast of Colombia and I could not wait! I love being near the sea so I knew I was going to love Cartagena, but first we’d have to get there…
Pit Stop – Canyon del Chicamocha
We left Barichara and headed for new lands. En route we were to stop off and take a trip on the cable car over the Canyon del Chicamocha. Getting there was an interesting drive to say the least. An hour or so along a long windy cliff top main road being over taken by huge lorries. This wasn’t for the faint hearted, one of our group ended up sitting in the walk way of the minibus with her head in her knees.
Eventually we made it to the national park and being situated on the top of a mountain…meant the views were stunning. El Parque Nacional del Chicamocha has a lot to offer, the main attraction is the cable car. Which crosses the Canyon and river, for the small price of £10.00pp. If you plan to spend more of a day up here in the mountains, the the park also has a water park perched on the side of the cliff.
On wards to Cartagena!
It was around 18:30 when we touched down on the Caribbean coast and stepped off the plane into the sweltering heat. It was honestly the hottest place I’ve ever been to. It’s not just the heat but the humidity. Be grateful for air con!
The city of Cartagena was buzzing and full of life! A huge difference to what we had experienced throughout the earlier part of our trip. The Caribbean influence was very evident here with a clear change in the people and the culture. We ate well that evening and enjoyed what Cartagena had on offer for us – Salsa and cocktails in one of the city’s Cuban style bars.
Exploring Cartagena by Day
After a night of not much sleep, self induced. We dragged ourselves up, however in the comfort of our air-conditioned rooms we had forgotten the immense heat that was about to hit us. Walking downstairs was a struggle. We didn’t have high hopes for our energy levels for the rest of the day. Nevertheless, we headed off to the highest point ‘La Popa’ where you can see a panoramic view of the city. Of course, you will also find a church at the top as religion plays a huge part in Colombia. You will often see huge crosses on top of hills and churches in every town. From here you can see how the city is divided and how the old city is located snug inside the city walls right in the heart of the city.
Visit the Old Town UNESCO World Heritage Site
If you are up to it then wander the streets and discover the Old Town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can walk the cobbled streets and take in the beautiful balconies covered in bougainvillea. Balconies are the most important symbol in Cartagena. In the past they used to show how wealthy a family was, the bigger the balcony the richer you were. The city also played an important part in the past days of the drug cartels, as a harboured city. As well as the country’s main export port for coffee and fruit to Europe and the UK. Our tour guide in Cartagena was very knowledgeable and made sure we understood the Cartaginian motto – cha cha cha.
Paradise on the Islands of Rosario
Remember down here at sea level, mosquitos are a lot more common so take your mosquito repellent! Cartagena beach is more of a city beach. So if you’re looking for the traditional Caribbean style beach your best bet is to head out on a boat ride to the archipelago Islands of Rosario. A group of private islands with a beautifully preserved ecosystem, where you can experience crystal clear water and perfect corals. This is the perfect place to visit for that Caribbean style getaway where you can either visit for a day trip or book a hotel but at a hefty price.
Round up of Cartagena:
I can honestly say that Colombia exceeded my expectations and I am so happy I was given the opportunity to visit this beautiful country. Travelling with a tour group is a good idea as we all felt safe together and the advantage of being in an organised group enables you to visit places you might not if you were by yourself. Colombia offers such a variety of destinations and attractions. If you are an adventurous person and wish to experience South America I wouldn’t hesitate at picking Colombia!