I made eight dives with Poseidon, which is a PADI dive centre. Two dives cost 130 000 pesos and in that price all the equipment is included. The dives are made by boat and in-between them there is a short break at a shore were you will get some snacks (small sandwich, biscuits and coke). There is no toilet anywhere. Three days we used the big boat with roof, which is good for protection from the sun. One day we were using a smaller, open boat and I thought I was not going to like it. But it was fine. It was quite cloudy that day and we were not so many divers and there were no loud music so we could speak to each other.
When I was in Taganga they were building a pool at the dive centre. So Poseidon will be the only dive centre with a pool were you can do different exercises during the courses.
The diving is good in Taganga. There are many corals, both soft and hard. Other things you will see during the dives are: lots of tube worms, fire worms, big angelfish, green morays and smaller spotted morays, cowfish, octopus, parrotfish, barracuda, lobsters and many more.
Uppdate August 2008: I made only two dives this year as I was just passing by. The price was lower than the prvious year, 120 000 pesos for two dives (maybe it depends on the season). There were a lot of divers and most of them took different courses. All groups were small and I was happy to dive alone with a dive master. The owner Max took a look at the places I had been to the previous year and we went to two for me new places. That was great!
While Colombia is not yet as renowned for trekking as say Peru or Chile and its circuits not as famous as The Inca Trail or Torres del Paine, it is only because of the bad press the country has received over the years due to its notoriety as the kidnapping capital of the world. It surely has nothing to do with a lack of spectacular and varied scenery. There are many choices for various skill levels but aside from guided trips, one must have fair route finding abilities and some knowledge of Spanish. This is not Switzerland where a nice sign points you in the right direction at every “intersection”and tells you how much further you have to go. Even though our trip was two months long and was geared towards such endeavors we still only managed two treks and one day hike while there. Colombia is a huge country and even though there is a great transportation infrastructure, it is time consuming none-the-less. Add to this that once close to any of the National Parks, getting into them generally requires even more time, money to pay for guides, or some sense of adventure and the ability to communicate in Spanish to do it more affordably.
For me, going to Colombia was about finally doing the circuit around the El Cocuy massif. While the trek itself was “only” eight days, the time to get there, get acclimatized, and organize things made the excursion closer to three weeks. We actually rushed ourselves a bit due to the park being in danger of closure due to fire hazard. A second shorter trek in another part of the park was aborted due to misinformation by a hotel owner in Güicán. So, it could have been a bit shorter but going into the area with anything less than two weeks and expecting to complete the circuit is optimistic at best. It is a very worthwhile trek with some of the most spectacular mountain scenery I have ever seen and far less crowded than say one in the Himalayas or even Cordillera Blanca of Peru, where I have also trekked.
Our second trek was the guided one to La Ciudad Perdida. This has to be done with one of a handful of recognized guiding outfits so logistically easier if more expensive trip. The scenery is far more lush and you encounter indigenous groups along the way so a much different hike than El Cocuy.
We also did a nice day hike in the Valle de Cocora near Salento in the Zona Cafetera where longer treks are possible if so inclined.
Overall, we had two weeks in the backcountry of Colombia and it was the most memorable of all our experiences, especially the ones we spent with just the two of us.
Equipment: Bring your own gear if you want good quality. It was a hassle lugging our tent, camping stove, and all our warm/wet weather gear around often parts of tropical Colombia but we were very glad to have it for the El Cocuy trek where it would have been impossible to accomplish otherwise. The tent and stove came in handy later when we camped in Tayrona National Park, right on the beach rather than have to do it as a day hike or sleep in a hammock!
There is a dive centre on Isla Gorgona and when I visited one instructor (Alejandro) and one dive master (Jimmy) were working there. It is not cheap (like in Taganga), but actually quite expensive.
To do the two morning dives was 140 000 pesos + 70 000 for equipment, and to do the afternoon dive was 95 000 pesos + 70 000 for equipment (July 2008). I made an afternoon dive one day and two morning dives another day, and then changed some of the other prepaid activities for diving and added some money.
The afternoon dive I made was at Montañita 1on the west side of the island. I had hoped to see some big fish, but we didn’t. There were lots of smaller fish, a moray and a sea star. There were rocks and some corals.
The two morning dives we dove at Remanco del Horno and Tiburonera at the north side of the island. I enjoyed those dives very much and was happy that we saw some big fish. We saw a manta ray, a spotted eagle ray a whale shark (about 5 metres long), and a very big grouper standing still surrounded by small juvenile butterfly fishes. We also saw a lot of morays, three of them swimming together, and at one point we were almost surrounded by barracudas. We also saw a turtle, bump head parrotfish, different puffer fish, triggerfish, surgeonfish, butterfly fish and much more. I should not forget to mention that we also saw sharks (reef sharkes). One was just inside a small cave (and we had our faces very close) and another one was on the other side of the rock.
It was 26 – 27°C in the water (July).
In San Gil you will have to opportunity to try many exciting outdoor activities like rafting, rappelling, paragliding etc. I had first intended to go rafting, but as I had done that only a few days previous in Venezuela I decided to visit a cave instead.
Together with a Swedish guy from the hostel I visited Cueva del Indio in the small town Paramo. As we came to the bus station in central San Gil we asked when the next bus to Paramo was leaving, and we got the answer 10.15. We went to the market to buy a fruit salad, but came back to eat it at the bus station. That was lucky because at 10.00 we were told that the bus was leaving now.
The bus ride to Paramo took half an hour and the ticket was 3000 pesos (July 2008). In Paramo the bus stopped at the main plaza and from there the agency we were going to was situated one block up the road.
At the agency we waited half an hour for more people who were coming, but they didn’t arrive so together with a guide we went to the cave. We went with a zip line down to the cave opening. It was a beautiful place with view towards a small waterfall.
In the cave we had water up to our knees at some places, sometimes we had to bend down and at other places the ceiling was high enough to walk straight. At one point we were crawling on our stomachs. There were bats in the cave and we sat down in a room were we turned of our head lamps (first I saw there was full of bats in the ceiling). There the guide talked about the bats and stalactites and stalagmites, but as it was in Spanish I only understood part of it.
Normally the tour ends with a jump down in a pool of water, but as there was too much water we had to go back the same way we came. Before turning around we could here the sound of a running stream in an open cave and we could also see a small waterfall.
The tour took about two hours. We had booked it through Macondo Guest House in San Gil, and that’s also were we paid. To visit the cave was 25 000 pesos (July 2008). I wore waterproof sandals and a t-shirt and trousers, which I had to wash after the visit.
After visiting Cueva del Indios I wanted to visit another of the caves around San Gil, but unfortunately I didn’t have time for that. If you go earlier in the morning you can do two caves in a day though.
In Cocora Valley you can find several signed paths to hike and there are a few places where you can stay the night (one of them is Acaime). I only visited on a daytrip.
A nice walk in Cocora Valley is to Acaime Natural Reserve and back. There are two different routes so you can take one going there and the other path going back. Just after the restaurants in Cocora there is a sign ,on the right side of the road, which is saying Acaime 4,8 km. Follow the path down and across Rio Quindio and then along the valley. If it has rained it can be quite muddy, but it was not so bad when I visited. After about an hour walk in the green valley (including photo and snack breaks) I reached the forest. Then there is another hour walk through the tropical forest before you reach Acaime. The path in the forest crosses the river many times and the bridges have all seen better days. I did not want to step in the middle of the bridges, fearing one of the boards would break in half, but put my feet close to the sides of the narrow bridges. You will come to a fork in the path. The path to the right is going to Acaime and to there it is 1 km. The path to the left is the one you should take going back to Cocora. The sign says Cocora 3,8 km, but that is not correct. That is the distance you have walked from Cocora, but if you are taking the other way back it is 5,9 km.
Going back from Cocora the path from the fork is going steeply uphill and after 800 metres you reach Finca La Montaña. Here you will sign a visitor book before you continue downhill along a small road. First you walk through a pine forest but then the landscape will open up and you have the beautiful Cocora Valley in front of you. It was a lovely walk with beautiful sceneries and nice weather.
The wind currents in Medellín are very good for paragliding and the landscape is beautiful with green valleys. So I thought it was a good place for me to do a first tandem flight. I asked in the reception of the hotel for a good paragliding club and the receptionist made a telephone call to get a number which she gave me. I called and talked to the secretary Jessica, who gave me directions in Spanish. In the evening the instructor Ricardo called me to confirm the flight and he gave me instructions in English.
The next morning I took the metro to Caribe and Terminal Norte. There I took the 8 o’clock bus for Belamira (desk 17). I bought a ticket to San Felix for 2600 pesos (July 2008). I had been told to get off at a restaurant called Voladero. On the opposite side of the road there was an airplane and the bus ride here took about 45 minutes. The Aeroclub is in the red building. Soon the instructor Ricardo arrived with Andrés, who was also doing a tandem flight.
We walked up the hill (not a long walk) to the starting and landing place for the paragliding. It was a sunny Sunday morning and there were many people there. Several had their own equipment and some did a course and a few made a tandem flight like me.
For the flight it is good to have long sleeves, sunglasses, sun block and a camera. Below us was Bello (north of Medellín) and a valley. To the south was Medellín and another valley. The flight was lovely and it felt very safe. It lasted for 22 minutes. Then I waited for Andrés and we went to the restaurant above before taking the bus back to Medellín.
I can absolutely recommend this Aeroclub and the instructor Ricardo Esgerra Flórez.
The flight was 70 000 pesos (July 2008).
dragged mi girlfriend to Junior Baranquilla futbol match,watchin south american futbol live cannot compare to anywhere,stadium road is underconstruction for a new railways so currently as of march 2008 there is alot of dust and dirt,but the crowds with the bands and banners,and police,military,security was second to none,my advice during day games is to sit in the shady part of the stadium
The trek to Ciudad Perdida is a six day trek, but many groups also do it in five days (I’m glad we didn’t). It takes three days to arrive to Ciudad Perdida and then there is one day for exploring Ciudad Perdida, and then two days for walking back. It is the forth day that many people skip. They see Ciudad Perdida in the afternoon they arrive and then leave early the morning after. But why rush when you have come all the way.
Turcol is the only company organising treks to Ciudad Perdida (but I have heard there might be other tour companies soon). I went to Turcol’s office in Santa Marta to hear which days they would have a trek. I wanted to go in two days, but they just had a trek the day after or in four days. I decided to take the trek in four days. I went to an ATM to withdraw money and went back to Turcol to pay. For the six-day trek I paid 460 000 pesos (July 2007). In Taganga later that day I heard they now had a trek in two days (other people had signed up after I had been to the office), so I changed day as it suited my schedule better.
It is a fantastic trek and I will write more tips about it on my Ciudad Perdida page.
We spent this entire day visiting the city. Thre are still many of the ancient staircases and tracks left, as well as stone terraces, which were used for religious ceremonies.
What is most fascinating about the city is its location on the slopes above a mighty jungle gorge, only accessible on foot.
From our starting point we hiked for three hours (two hours of which were uphill), mostly through jungle, passing some nice places for a swim on the way.
Despite of the ascent, it was not too strenuous since we walked at a moderate pace and made some rests on the way.
Close to the place were we stayed for the night was a waterfall with a deep pool, a great place to refresh, after all this sweating.
Another three hours (two downhill) to our starting point, and another two-hour ride back to Santa Marta.
The Trekking Tour was magnificent and great value. Spending the night in hammocks was comfortable, our guide was very nice and the food was alright, too. Besides the standard dish, meat with rice and sandwiches, we were also provided with fresh vegetables and fruits.
The hardest day!!! We had to walk back Day 2 and 3 in just one day, which meant eight hours of walking, ten river crossings, and one hour constantly uphill (20% ascent, at least). I am sure i have never lost so much water in my entire life.
Another five hours to Ciudad Perdida. This section was the most beautiful, and at the same time the most adventurous of the tour. It involved eight river crossings and climbing over slippery rocks. The path led through dense jungle.
After lunch we had to climb up an ancient staircase for almost one hour until we finally reached the lost city.
Colombia is an extreamly good place for scuba diving. The underwater world in the Caribbean is breathtaking. There are several dive-sites and dive-shops in the Caribbean region (Cartagena, Santa Marta, Islas del Rosario etc.), i personally love the little fishing village of Taganga, where there are quite a lot of PADI dive-shops and which is surrounded by amazing dive-sites. Diving in Colombia is also rather cheap (not in the Islas del Rosario however), when compared to the rest of the world. And the things you can see down there......
Equipment: You can rent the equipment in all dive-shops. You can either take a course (a mini-course or a licence course) or just rent the equipment (usually this means that you will be taken to the dive-site and given a small snack in between dives).
Four-hour hike through beautiful nature. We reached our destination at 1pm and spent the rest of the day on the river nearby.
More Regions in Colombia