San Cipriano Travel Guide

  • San Cipriano
    by mircaskirca
  • San Cipriano
    by mircaskirca
  • Things to Do
    by mircaskirca

San Cipriano Things to Do

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    by mircaskirca Updated Mar 14, 2010

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    Set in the tropical forest, San Cipriano provides a range of hiking opportunities. Most visitors hike into the jungle along a truly beautiful trail out of town. There are some beautiful cascades and crystal clear pools where you can take a dip and cool yourself after walking. A place is called refugio del amor (refuge of love). Follow the track out of town until you see an ecological trail with a sign refugio del amor (on your left). The area is an excellent place for birdwatching. If you are attentive you may spot some birds on the way.

    While observing the unusual trees and plants of the tropical forest a small group of Colombian tourists (from Bogotá) came to me and started a friendly conversation. They asked me where I was coming from. When I told I was from Slovenia, one girl immediately mentioned Ljubljana and a few other Slovenian towns. I could not believe my ears!! There were very few people in Colombia that knew about Slovenia. And then, in the jungle of the remote San Cipriano, there was somebody who even knew Ljubljana. She told me that not long ago she travelled in Central Europe, and among other countries also visited Slovenia. And she loved it :)

    Related to:
    • Water Sports
    • Jungle and Rain Forest
    • Hiking and Walking

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    by mircaskirca Updated Mar 11, 2010

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    When I arrived in San Cipriano I had a short coffee break in Hotel y Restaurante La Tia, and then chose a place for lunch later on (I arranged with a local woman to prepare it at the appointed hour). I only had one day in San Cipriano so I wanted to make the most of it. I asked a local girl about the trails and the adventure started.

    Swimming or bathing in the crystal clear water is the most enjoyable activity in San Cipriano. There are a few small pebbled beaches along the nature trail that starts at the end of the town. You can not miss them, they are well marked. It was very pleasant to swim, not too cold. Though at some places there are very strong currents so you have to be careful. Beautiful green surroundings, very tranquil, only the sounds of birds and other creatures of the jungle filled my ears.

    If you have more time you can also go inner tubing. Several places rent out inner tubes. You have to hike 30 minutes up the trail out of town to come to an entry point in the river, and float downstream back to town. The river has some rapids so it can be fun.

    Related to:
    • Jungle and Rain Forest
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Water Sports

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    by mircaskirca Updated Mar 10, 2010

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    San Cipriano town is a tiny settlement of 500 inhabitants. It is situated at 200m above sea level and set deep in the humid tropical forest of the brightest green, off the Cali-Buenaventura road. Remote and almost inaccessible, San Cipriano is 15 km from the nearest road. The town is completely inhabited by community of African descent and their culture remains distinct from the rest of Colombia.

    The town is little more than a single dirt road lined with simple wooden houses where you find a few restaurants and some cheap accommodation. There is not much more to do except enjoy the atmosphere and observe life in the street. It's always interesting to learn how the local people live. Some of them are open for conversation. Though most visitors come here to explore the beautiful natural surroundings, especially some jungle trails and the crystal clear river. Ask the locals to show you the best spots.

    Related to:
    • Jungle and Rain Forest
    • Hiking and Walking

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San Cipriano Restaurants

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    by mircaskirca Updated Mar 10, 2010

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    Numerous locals offer basic accommodation in a simple wooden house. They also serve cheap meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner). For a small town, San Cipriano has plenty of places to get food and drink. Due to the town's proximity to Buenaventura on the Pacific coast, good-quality seafood and shrimp are easy to get at affordable price but you have to order the meals in advance. When I arrived in San Cipriano I chose a place and then talked to the owner lady about the menu. We agreed the lunch will be ready at 2:00pm which gave me about four hours to explore the surrounding area.

    The place had outside seating with a long table and two benches, in one of the wooden houses along the road. There was a cute but roguish owner's daughter playing next to me. And what I liked the best about the place was a cooking corner with a wall full of hanging kitchenware. Quite picturesque!

    Favorite Dish: I chose sancocho de ñato (fish typical of the Pacific coast). Sancocho de pescado is a traditional Colombian dish. It's a hearty fish soup made with plantain, yuca, potato and the fish of your choice. It was served with rice and salad (which I did not eat due to lack of hygienic conditions, especially the water). The fish is served separately and it is usually fried. I was recommended to try pescado sudado, fish cooked with tomato, pepper and garlic. The meat was nicely soft and tasty. I had a bottle of Poker beer with the meal. Sancocho was 6.000 COP and the beer 2.000 COP (December 2009).

    I liked the fish but the soup was quite poor. I wasn't happy with the service either. When I arrived at the appointed time, the food was not ready, señora did not even start to prepare it yet. I had to wait quite some time. She was also not the friendliest person so I would not return.

    Related to:
    • Food and Dining
    • Beer Tasting
    • Jungle and Rain Forest

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San Cipriano Transportation

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    by mircaskirca Updated Mar 9, 2010

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    I left Tostaky guesthouse before 6:00am and walked to Calle 5 to take a bus to the bus terminal. On the way I made a stop for a quick breakfast in my favourite panaderia where I had tinto (coffee) and pandebono (cheese bread balls or rings, quite typical of Cali). From Calle Quinta it took about 20 minutes to get to the terminal. At the counter of Coomoepal I bought a ticket for buseta (minibus) and a few minutes later we left. The ticket was 15.000 COP (December 2009).

    To travel to San Cipriano, you take a bus that heads towards Buenaventura and get off in a Córdoba, a small community in the jungle. It takes about 2,5 hours. From there it's a 1km walk downhill to the railway line where the real adventure begins. Locals have created simple platforms with seats, powered by motorcycles that sit on the rails. This very unusual journey takes about 20 minutes through the jungle. The return fare for a rail trolley to San Cipriano was 16.000 COP (December 2009) which is already a ridiculous price. Bargain hard with the trolley operators otherwise they'll try to rip you off. This happened to me but fortunately I was clever enough to ask some locals before I payed.

    Going back to Cali, in Córdoba I stopped a buseta coming from Buenaventura. I got a seat on the front, next to the driver, so I could enjoy beautiful landscape with mountains and lush vegetation which changed a lot during the journey. The driver was a friendly guy from Cali who used to live and work in Italy for a long time. We had a nice conversation. In Cali he dropped me off in front of hotel InterContinental on Avenida Colombia, just a short walk to Tostaky. This saved me a lot of time.

    Related to:
    • Trains
    • Road Trip
    • Jungle and Rain Forest

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San Cipriano Local Customs

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    by mircaskirca Updated Mar 9, 2010

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    San Cipriano has no roads and the river is too shallow to easily navigate. There is a train track but trains don't run anymore. So this small town stayed isolated in the jungle until some smart locals invented a unique new way of transportation. They created small wooden pallets on wheels (where people sit) that attach themselves to the rail. These strange contraptions are called brujitas (meaning little witch) and they move under the influence of both, gravity and the power of motorcycle that sit on the wooden pallet.

    It's obvious that they wouldn't meet international safety standards but who cares? With the speed up to 50km hour, this journey is not for the faint-hearted. The single track makes little allowance for anything travelling in the opposite direction. People often travel in convoy in one direction, taking turns with those from the other way, so they run one way for one hour and then the other way for another hour. But sometimes they just ignore it. When brujitas driving in the opposite direction meet, they move one (usually with less passengers) from the rail to give place to the other. Then they put it back and continue the journey.

    It's very unusual but memorable journey through the jungle. The scenery is spectacular and it somehow follows the river. The journey takes about 20 minutes.

    Related to:
    • Jungle and Rain Forest
    • Trains

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