From Barranquilla we made the two hour trek to the beach city of Santa Marta. Along the way we came across several small villages, all that were unfortunately covered in non-biodegradable trash. We had to stop for photos and some drone footage since we want to capture ALL of Colombia, not just the pleasant parts.
Although it may not have looked like the best place to live, the children there were all dressed well and had great attitudes. They were very kind and fun-loving.
The adults we interacted with were very welcoming too. They invited us all to their homes so that Charles could show them the video he caught of their village with the drone.
When we got to Santa Marta it was time to check in to our hotel, Kali Hotels’ Casa de Leda.
I loved the theming throughout the lobby; and certain aspects of the rooms had an Asian feel, which I’m a big fan.
Breakfast was served on the rooftop lounge every morning, which also had great decor.
Our first full day in Santa Marta was spent in Tayrona National Park, which is a MUST DO when in Colombia. When we first arrived we had to watch an educational video, then a guide explained the different options we had to get to the park’s beaches. Option one was to hike two hours there and two hours back… I made the mistake of wearing flip flops that day so I was hoping that wouldn’t be our choice. Option two was taking a boat, but those stop running at 3:30 pm and it was almost noon when we got there. So we went with our last option which was to ride horses there.
Some members of the family haven’t had great experiences on horses in the past so there were some nerves at first, but I was super excited. Luckily, my horse and I had similar mind sets, he was a leader so we took to the front of the line the entire time. It was a really fun ride too, not just flat land. There were cliffs, and even rocks to climb up and down.
We did take one break during the hour and a half ride down to the beach, but it wasn’t bad at all… well at least not in my opinion, the others might disagree. The way back wasn’t as comfortable, we were all a bit saddle sore by that point; but the views we got while on the beach were totally worth it!
Here’s the boat you can take to the beach that I mentioned earlier.
And if you decide to camp at the beach for the night you can rent a tent or a hammock.
Fabes and I even did some rock climbing to get a better view… and take a cool selfie.
But the drone got the best view of all. Here’s a screenshot from the footage.
Aside from the park, there is plenty to do and see in Santa Marta:
Enjoy a brew on the beach.
Scout out amusing street art.
And definitely check out Lulo. The food was so good we ate dinner here two nights in a row. It is run and owned by two American sisters who moved to Colombia from Connecticut. We ate outside which was nice, but we did have to deal with beggars coming up to our table and performers playing their music throughout the entire meal. Our waitress Amy (one of the sisters) did a great job of telling the vagabonds to leave us alone though.
If you do end up at Lulo make sure to try their Maracuya Mojitos, they’re heavenly.
After a couple of days in Santa Marta we took a plane to Bogotá, the largest city in all of Colombia. We only stayed there for one night (soon to come back) and hit the road for Villa de Leyva. There was plenty to see on the way there:
For example, this adorable little milk maiden.
A colorful neighborhood, complete with a puppy in a basket.
This clay pot producing family.
Plenty of ruana (poncho) selling shops.
More dogs and some cows.
Plus, gorgeous mountain landscapes.
Our main stop during the drive was at Catedral de Sal (the famous Salt Mine Cathedral). A tour costs about $7.00 USD and you can ask to wait for one in English if needed, but we pretty much went around doing our own thing so Fabes could get these great photos:
I really love the way they keep the tunnels lit, it feels very much like a sacred space, until you reach all the gift shops at the end. Other attractions here include a 3D cinema and a rock climbing wall for kids.
But, even with the cheesy decoys, it was beautiful, and I’m glad we made the visit.
About an hour from here we finally made it to Villa de Leyva, to find out that it was the town’s off season and many restaurants were closed. Even then, it was still an intriguing little community with its colonial-style, Spanish architecture very well preserved. When we had first gotten there, the sun was setting, but in the morning we got a great look at the place.
We’ve been in Colombia now for about two weeks, and it all seems to be going by so fast. We only have one more city to explore, and that’s Bogotá. It’s the capitol of Colombia and it’s very extensive… like this article. So thanks for making it through another one with us and stay tuned for more.