After saying goodbye to the notorious city of Medellin, Ryan and I hopped on a plane for our final week of the trip. I’ve never been to the Caribbean before and it seemed like the perfect paradise to end the five month journey.
We landed in Cartagena, known for its historic walled city along the sea, and bunked at an Airbnb just a short taxi ride away. The old city sits within fortress walls and is a UNESCO heritage site and the cobblestone streets are alive with performers, artists, restaurants, bars, and more. Although the humidity within the city can be painstaking during the day, we enjoyed getting lost through the winding roads at night and climbing the fortress walls overlooking the sea. After two days we set off towards the eastern coast, a small “hippie-like” town that offered snorkeling and scuba called Taganga.
[lunch view looking over Taganga]
I hadn’t breathed under water since my trip to the Philippines and I knew I needed to finish this trip with at least one dive. Ryan came along to snorkel and we took a beautiful boat ride along the coast nearby the national park. The dives were fun, nothing new and unfortunately the visibility wasn’t the greatest, but to breathe under water again felt amazing and I’m grateful for getting the chance. We even had a lovely lunch at the local dive shop’s hidden little cabana where massive iguanas sunbathed. That night our dive instructor took us out for the best vegan bbq kabobs I’ve ever had with amazingly strong frozen mojitos to wash them down. Then we went to the town’s main club that sits high above cove and danced for hours under the stars.
[Spot the iguana]
The next day we set off for Minca. First we needed to bus to Santa Marta to drop off our big backpacks at the hostel we’d be staying at the following night and find a jeep taxi to take us into Minca. Ten of us squeezed in this old, rusty 4-wheeler and with little air flow and the humidity wasn’t kind to us that day. After an hour of bumpy, jungle-like roads we hopped out in the little town of Minca. But we weren’t at our destination yet. The eco-hostel we booked for was another 45min moto taxi ride up into the forest. We weighed our options and decided to skip paying for another ride and hike up to Casa Elemento on our own. It was long, uphill, two hour climb, but when we arrived it was worth every sweaty step.
[The road to Casa Elemento]
The place was recommended by close friends and known for its incredibly, massive hammock that overlooks the luscious coastal jungles. Need I say more?
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The famous hammock at Casa Elemento, just outside Minca, Colombia. The perfect place to chill. #travel #travelgram #travelling #traveling #backpacker #explore #wanderlust #mountain #jungle #minca #photography #camping #trekking #colombia #chile #hiking #casaelemento #EarthFocus #BBCTravel #LoveTheWorld #TravelAwesome #LiveTravelChannel #worlderlust #yourtravellist #TravelingOurPlanet #awesome_earthpix #EarthFocus #TheGlobeWanderer #campingofficial #campingcollective @southamerica
This hidden, isolated gem is covered in hammocks, includes a pool, bar, treehouse, family-style meals, and even a high ropes course in the woods below. I could have settled in for days, weeks even, enjoying the warm heat, the sounds of the toucans, and the sunsets in this hammock. Minca, till we meet again. Sigh.
[hostel kitty yawns]
[more hammock hangs at Casa Elemento]
And the next day we were off. Waving goodbye after only a night to a my kind of heaven spot is hard, but we trudged back down that long road and headed back into Santa Marta for a night out. From stunningly peaceful to a three-story party hostel complete with rooftop party was quite the change and I honestly wish we stayed an extra night in Minca. We strolled around town chatting with some local nutters and taking in the night sea. We enjoyed a few drinks on the rooftop, but called it an early night. That was a mistake. The hostel never grew quiet and the non ac dorm room was miserably hot. I ended up sleeping on the sofas in the tv room where there was a tad more air. The Caribbean humidity is not one to mess with. The next day we headed back to Cartagena for our final two nights in South America. We opted for an aircon room and spent the night wandering through the old city watching the night come alive.
For our final day Ryan and I decided to head to Playa Blanca. A famous, tourist beach with creamy, white sand along turquoise, clear water. Most travelers pay an overpriced fee to boat over and back, but of course I found the cheaper way. Two local buses to a town far outside Cartagena where we each hopped on a mototaxi that dropped us off next to the shoreline. I have to say our way was much more fun 🙂
[Last day in Colombia, last day in South America[
Thankfully the beach was quite empty because it was a weekday and we played in the perfect sunshine and stunningly blue water for hours. Then I had one of those crazy, small world, holy hell, kind of experiences. As we swam with beers in hand, we started chatting with a few travelers nearby. One of the girls look insanely familiar and when she walked off, I realized why. I met Eva on my first days in Thailand. On the boat to Koh Pha Ngan where we spent the days few days dancing to the Full Moon and two and a half years later we’re swimming next to each other in the Caribbean on the Colombian coast. Life is just one amazing surprise after another and it just shows regardless of how vast this planet is, you can still bump into a friend on the other side of it.
We swam, drank beers in the crystal clear water, and relaxed taking it all in. Five unforgettable, adventure-infused, months spent across the mind-blowing continent. How grateful to have traversed five unique, enticing countries. From the warm Caribbean waters on the north to the Antarctic region of Chile on the southernmost part of the continent, through the Andean Mountains and the central deserts, we fell in love with it all and I know we’ll return for more.
Cheers if you read most of our South American adventures or if you’re just reading this one. The Disastrous Duo continues onward. Next up my home turf for a few weeks. See you soon U S A.
still waiting to use my teleport. see below.