Cabo de la Vela, Colombia: Where to Stay for an Authentic Experience

What travel stories do you have?

Global travel blog that features travel stories on living, traveling and growing up in cities, villages and towns around the world!

cabo de la vela

Cabo de la Vela, Colombia: Where to Stay for an Authentic Experience

Having visited Palomino many times, I needed to see some more of Guajira state – so I planned a trip to Cabo de la Vela (the northern part of La Guajira) to see the real spirit of this magical region.

To get to Cabo de la Vela, you can take a bus from Palomino or Santa Marta (via Maicao) to Cuatro Vias, a place near the Venezuelan frontier. You can then take a private car to Uribia, the indigenous capital of Colombia where a big and exotic autochthonous market is held. From Uribia you can choose to take an auto stop (in the morning preferably) or a 4×4 for 30 thousand pesos. The entire trip will cost you around 60 thousand pesos ($20).

I chose to take the auto stop and, after crossing the dry landscape in two trucks transporting cheap gasoline from Venezuela,  I arrived at Cabo de la Vela.

Cabo is beautiful, with calm waters and fast, edgy winds that are ideal for kite flying and wind surfing. The scenery is mostly desert with cacti and mind blowing rocks that crash into the sea. Most of the people living here are wayuú making a living from fishing or goat farming, though the most important business in the area is coal extraction in Cerrejón. The coal is mined here and then transported to other countries through a train that crosses the territory. Yet, coal is not a good thing for this region because the beaches are polluted by it – moreover, most of the money goes to an industry that doesn’t help the communities living in this region.

When I travelled here I stayed in a fisherman’s place. My host was known as El Sierra (he only reveals his real name to friends and family). He lives in a house just beside the Pesquera, one of the first places you see when coming to Cabo, with his three children (two boys and a little girl). You can easily stay with him if you have a hammock or a tent. He is an open minded man with a sense of humor, and he can teach you a lot about the Wayuú culture if you speak Spanish or…wayunaiki, which is his native language. His father lives nearby and helps with sewing/darning the nets. A conversation with this man is pure knowledge, and I learnt from him that there are different types of nets for catching the various marine species.

El Sierra's Boat PIC: RM

El Sierra’s Boat PIC: RM

Being at El Sierra’s was one of the best moments of my journey, and I highly recommend staying here. The only thing you have to do is help with what you can, and buy a lot of supplies – in particular water. Water is vital since it’s very scarce in la Guajira, but you can buy a 200 liter tank for 20 thousand pesos (we recommend you to do so). El Sierra can give you fish for a reasonable price, but it is better if you buy enough rice, vegetables, pasta or corn meal for 6 or 7 people. This is actually really cheap if you consider a kilo of rice costs only $1 in the store nearby, although vegetables and fruits are expensive (it is better if you buy them in Uribia). Anyway, you’ll have the meal of your life if you do bring your spices and goods – Sierra can cook for you and he makes amazing fried and stewed fish. He can even teach you how to properly treat the different fish (freshly caught) in a proper way (cleaning, cutting, spicing).

Freshly Cooked Fish PIC: RM

Freshly Cooked Fish PIC: RM

If you are an adventurer, you should definitively help Sierra with the fishing. He leaves around 8-10 pm and finds a place to sink the net, then you will sleep on the boat until 5 am, when you’ll have to pull the net out of the water. This is an astonishing experience, you’ll have the chance to see marine species of all sorts – stingrays, red snappers, bass, cojinoas, soles, lobsters, sardines, catfish, shrimps and other wonderful fish.

Today's Catch PIC: RM

Today’s Catch PIC: RM

There are several places to visit near Cabo, my favorite was Pilón de Azucár, which is a sanctuary and a beach that looks like a scene from Star Wars. There is also playa Arcoiris, el ojo del agua and el faro, places that you should definitively see if you have time. Remember to bring water and sun lotion (it is better if you leave early in the morning). If you have the budget, you can take a boat tour with Sierra.

Cabo de la Vela Landscape PIC: RM

Cabo de la Vela Landscape PIC: RM

Remember to clean up and recycle your garbage. La Guajira  is a sacred place for the Wayuú and it needs people to protect the environment. You can do much if you show people the importance of leaving a tidy space. If we all collaborate by cleaning, we will protect this blessed land.

Ricardo Meier

Ricardo Meier

My name is Ricardo Meier and I was born in Caracas, Venezuela. Since I was little, I have had an urge to connect with people, but for me it was really hard because I am a natural introvert. As I grew up, I discovered I had a passion for languages, arts and music - all of these tools helped me get through my shyness, I studied languages and got a degree, I did drama for 3 years in order to find the tools to communicate with others, I’ve been making music (the soul language) since I was 16 and now work as a street musician and I’m a part-time online translator. Travelling has always been my favorite hobby, I feel free when I get on the highway and discover new places, people and their cultures. I’ve been on the road for two years, travelling around South America and Europe. I believe travelling is a way to cure one of the world’s biggest problems, intolerance. Not comprehending the other is what brings war to the world, so in order to open our minds and discover ourselves we must first discover what others have to offer and find peace.

LEAVE A COMMENT