Palomino in Colombia. Visiting Paradise.
This little piece of paradise will take you back to another time.
Although Wi-Fi is accessible, the atmosphere and vibe of the place is so different from the modern tourist towns we have become used to.
No hi-rise, Little traffic, no traffic lights… lots of secluded B&B’s .
If you are done visiting the same old, same old tourist towns. The Eastern Caribbean Coast will be a breath of fresh tropical air for any traveler
Santa Marta, Is the gateway to this part of the Caribbean.
If you have no car…
Buses run at set times throughout the day to Palomino.
(Or you could take a private tour).
Make your way to the Mercado Publico de Santa Marta.
The best way to do this, is to grab a taxi, and tell the driver you are going to Palomino, and he will drop you in the right area.
The buses from Santa Marta go past Palomino, about another hour further along the coast towards the Venezuelan border to Riochaca.
Costs are about $10,000 – $20,000 COP ($6.00 – $14.00), Torcoroma and Unitransco bus companies run hourly services.
Copetran goes once a day and Rapido Ochoa runs 4 services a day.
To go further up along the coast, past Riochaca up to Bora Bora, you need to hire a taxi in Riochaca.
The cost is between $50,000 – $70,000 COP ($30 – $40.00 ), return. (2019 The Colombian Peso is priced against US dollars.) Negotiating is allowed ?.
Perhaps a better option would be to hire a car or motor bike in Santa Marta and travel to your own timeline.
From Santa Marta, it is an easy drive, less than 4 hours to Riochaca.
Our Starting Point.
Our plan was to stay a couple of days in Santa Marta and link up with Germain ( who runs Kashi Moon accommodation), in Palomino.
We had also arranged for him to take us on a tour of the region around Palomino up past Riochaca towards the Venezuelan border.
(Try to) Go Prepared
As well as taking in the sights , sounds, and nightlife of Santa Marta, it is convenient for buying those essentials we sometimes forget.
Beach towels, hats and sunscreen, toiletries, board shorts, ( if you left yours at home).
Palomino is the perfect place to use as a base for further excursions along the Caribbean coast and experience truly unique culture and scenery.
So lets begin at the BORA BORA beach club, which is above Palomino and right on the Caribbean Sea.
Totally unlike the Bora Bora Beach Club in the Photo Below.
This BORA BORA is the popular Beach Club on the Isle Del Rosario, where on weekends, boatloads of people travel from Cartagena (Colombia), to relax and party.
The Other Bora Bora,
IS Above Riohacha in the La Guajira department in North Eastern Colombia. Long inhabited by the Amerindians of the Wayuu ethnic group.
In the past Riohacha was a place where it was easy to find pearls in the harbour, the city was a magnet for English pirates (Sir Francis Drake being the most famous ), who would raid the place looking for Pearls and Gold.
Above Riohaca the landscape becomes almost desert like.
Mostly Inhabited by goats ( and a few people).
You are off the main tourist track.
Although this is changing as more people expand their horizons on their visits to Colombia.
Like the other Bora Bora, it is situated along the Caribbean coast, with one difference.
This Bora Bora is accessible by vehicle.
But why come here?
- Uncrowded Beaches
- Clear tropical waters
- A changing Desert Landscape
- Flamingo Sanctuary
- Sand Dunes that meet the sea
- Wind Surfing
- Beach Parties
- Family fun
- Secluded Beaches
- Original Traditional Handcrafts
- Friendly People
- Historical Sites
- I never looked for boat hire and diving. Never thought about it actually, but will check it out and update this post. Also…
- Santa Marta has quite a few dive boats and is one of the most inexpensive places in the world to get diving accreditations.
A typical tropical beach, with the remnants on life washed ashore by the high tide.
Seashells which were (are), homes to critters and sea grass lay along the tidal reach.
The water is clear but like all open water that is offering an invitation…
If you cannot swim or are not a good swimmer, be careful and stay near the shoreline.
This is basically the end (or the beginning), of what is becoming a popular backpacker trail.
Starting at either Cartagena or Santa Marta.
Unlike the other Bora Bora there is more to do here than lay about, drink alcohol and swim.
And you can still get refreshments.
There is more to see and do along the coast above Riohacha. Kite Surfing, if your into it, 4wheel driving across sand dunes. Our trip was more exploration than tourist oriented.
As you travel back towards Santa Marta there is a Flamingo Sanctuary. Located in a huge tidal lagoon near Camarones
Getting out to view them is only by sail boat.
Not your average sail boat, but a dugout sail boat. One of the great things about doing things along here is the authenticity of it all.
For instance these tours out to the Flamingos, are only done by Amerindians, in their traditional boats.
Forget about water skiing, surf kiting or any of that stuff on the Lagoon. It is not going to happen. But on the ocean side of the lagoon you have options for those and other water sports.
The Flamingos coming into view.
Why Towels on your head?
Someone forgot the hats and sunscreen.
Actually that is another story.
Note: The people who live in this harsh environment are the poorest of the poor, If they approach with items to sell, be polite.
The items they sell are handcrafted and colorful, all done in the traditional manner. For what they are asking for their quality handicrafts or produce, you are getting a bargain.
An Esky with Ice comes in handy if you like prawns.
Germain somehow managed to produce one and we bought enough to fill a small esky to take back with us, where we had Prawns Colombiano, Prawns Australiano, and curried prawns.
Palomino is a must visit. For the past 5 or 6 years it has been slowly developing, as more tourists realize the uniqueness of the area.
Only 100 klms from desert you are in rain forest, from where you can see snow capped mountains.
From Wikipedia. Palomino’s paradise attracts a low number of tourists even though the jungle landscape is exotic, there is vast biodiversity, and the beaches are white and uninhabited.
Palomino is close to the entrance to Sierra Nevada National Park and close to the Resguardo Indigena, (Indian Reserve area).
Especially popular, is tubing down the Palomino River.
With a laid back atmosphere, and the majority of accommodation, (B&B’s), located among the lush vegetation, you are taking yourself back to a simpler era.
The Kashi Moon Hostel is at the end of a lane way away from the noise of the main street.
Photo from inside the gate. It was Senor Germain’s cat, that encouraged this shot.
Why Stay Here?.
No Car?, No problem. Host Snr. Germain runs ( no rush), tours in his 4×4
Car Parking inside the Hostel grounds
New spacious units, separate bath and shower. External Showers to wash the sand and salt off before going to your unit.
Personalized friendly service, It pelted down rain on our first night there. Our intention was to walk to town and try out one of the cafes in the town.
Senor Germain solved our problem. He took orders and drove up to the cafe and returned with ginormous Brazilian ?’s for everyone. Tasted awesome too !
Very Competitive rates
Suitable for visitors of all age groups
Visit the indigenous people of Tuquenca and learn more about their culture (about 45 minutes away).
There are 4 tribes ( Kogi, Arhuaco, Wiwa and Kankuamo ), who have separate tribal areas in the Sierra Nevada.
Not all are able to be accessed by tourists.
We were lucky, as Germain has permits from the tribes that allow him to enter some tribal areas. See video below.
Tubing in the River.
A Go- Pro is useful here, as you could see monkeys or Toucans in the trees along the river bank as you meander down the river.
Waterproof bags to carry your things can be purchased in Palomino if you forgot to get one in Santa Marta.
Generally you can buy one from who-ever you hired a tube from.
Excellent Photography Opportunities
Kids can be Kids.
Adults can relax on the beach, or surfboards can be hired and surfing lessons are available.
Santa Marta (Again)
Santa Marta is South Americas oldest (European), town.
As well as being a busy working port it is also the gateway to many of the best destinations in Colombia.
- Tayrona National Park and its excellent beaches and lanscapes
- Lost City of The Sierra Nevada
- And of course the Caribbean Coast to Riohaca and beyond.
You can contact Snr. Germain here.
Or by Phone. +57 300 2028810
For Planning your Itinerary go here
For private transport from Santa Marta to Palomino or return from Palomino to Santa Marta go here Use “ExploreColombia10” for a 10 % discount.
As usual, I am at :- email@example.com
Santa Marta and Palomino are often tagged as unsafe because of their past. I have not had any problems in either of them. ( I have visited Santa Marta 3 times over 4 years ).
My only issue was with a Canadian near the beach this year, but that was a no big deal really.
I met some Venezulean youths in Santa Marta this time and I enjoyed their company for a short while. I do not think it any more unsafe than many other cities / towns in the world.
Do a google search if you are unsure.
My eyeballs tell me backpackers and retirees are increasing, even with all the trouble next door in Venezuela.
I did learn, that Venezuelans and Colombians speak a older style of Spanish than other South American countries.
The night life in Santa Marta is more on the scale of a large town than a big city, and with many party hostels popping up all over the place, you have lots of choices as to where you party.
And, yes drugs are here… be careful, if your caught with drugs your next “B&B” will not be very comfortable.
The markets and out door dining scene around Parque de los Novios is a great place to visit on Friday and Saturday nights.
The street performers are great to watch and listen to. Don’t forget to put some pesos in the hat or tray.
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