You can get to Barranquilla from Cartagena by ground-based transport (2 hours) or by aircraft from Bogota (1.5 hours). Barranquilla is called the Gold City. It is a large seaport and industrial center which has long been connecting the coastal part of the country with the central, since a large part of the goods are delivered into the depths of the country along its main river, Magdalena. In Barranquilla the Magdalena empties into the Atlantic Ocean. The majority of Colombia's Arab population, descendants from Syria, Lebanon and Palestine, who arrived to the country in 30-50s of last century, live here. Their presence had a significant effect on the development of the regional cuisine and architecture. Here it is possible to see houses in the Arab and Moorish style. Barranquilla is also the homeland of the singer Shakira.
This city is famous for its unique multicolored carnival, which is part of UNESCO's Nonmaterial Heritage of Humanity. The carnival is held for one week every year in January and the beginning of February.
Rioacha city is the capital of Guajira and the door into its unusual world. A trip to the peninsula takes 2-3 days. From Santa Marta one can get there by the ground-based transport (375 km, 4.5 hours), or by aircraft from Cartagena (20 min.) or Bogota (2 hours). The border with Venezuela passes onto the peninsula.
The peninsula and the department Guajira is a world of natural contrasts. Gold sand and cacti of desert plus emerald green seas, multiplied by the dazzling whiteness of solonchaks and the blue of lakes, give only a weak image about the beauty of these places.
Along the road from Rioacha to cape Cabo de la Vela it is possible to observe mangrove brushwood and lakes. Then the road passes by solonchaks Manaure – the largest deposits of sea salt under the open sky. To the south from Rioacha there is the Temple of Flora and Fauna Flamingo, where in the territory of 7000 acres among the salt lakes and the desert beaches it is possible to watch the life of millions of pink flamingo and other marine birds.
Cape Cabo de la Vela is one of the most interesting places in the peninsula, and also the most northern point of South America. The souls of the dead leave to rest from here, according to indigenous legends. Here there are desert sands cutting directly into the deep verdancy of the Atlantic. It is also sacred for the Wuayyu indians, who dwell in the peninsula, and the white cliff of the mountain Pylon de Asukar, from which it is believed the souls of dead people migrate into the parallel world.
By jeeps you can get into the depth of desert, see the way of life of the Wuayyu, and spend the night in the hammocks in the settlements, called rancheria.
This trip is for 1 -2 days. It is possible to reach Santa Marta by ground-based transport from Cartagena (2 hours), or by aircraft from Bogota (1.5 hours).
Santa Marta is the capital of the department Magdalena. It was founded in 1525 and is rather rich in colonial buildings. Five kilometers from the city there is the museum Qinta de San Pedro in the house where Simon Bolivar passed away in 1830. Santa Marta possesses a rich hotel complex for all tastes and purses, Rodadero beaches, and it is also famous for its natural parks, the museum of sea, and the preserve of Mamankana, where it is possible to do extreme sports.
The national park Tayrona is one of the most important places of pilgrimage, due to the splendid views. Here there are cliffs, emerald green water, white sandy beaches, a rich animal world, and good diving. The Indian village Chairama is a reminder of ancient dwellings of the indigenous people of Tayrona. The unique historic-archaelogical complex is located inside Tayrona park. It is possible to reach the park by ground-based and water transport. The national park of Tayrona is located at a distance of 10 km from Santa Marta. The outstanding virgin beaches and coral reefs await you here. You can get there by ground-based and sea transport.
The national park of Sierra Nevada has snow-covered mountains surrounding Santa Marta - 6000 meters above the sea level. Peak Colon is considered the snow-covered mountain nearest in the world to the sea coast in a tropical zone. This is the place where the indigenous people Asario and Kogi live. It is possible to make separate excursions here from Santa Marta. The Buritaka river and waterfalls in the depth of jungle, coffee plantations and ancient settlements are only a small part of the natural treasures of Sierra Nevada.
The Lost City ("Cuidad Perdida") is a unique architectural complex of pre–Columbian culture of Tayrona, famous for its craftsmanship in the processing of gold. Lost high in the mountains with the help of the complex system of terraces and rock stairs, it connected to more than 200 ancient settlements. It is considered to be one of the archeological treasures of Latin America. It has only been discovered very recently. To visit it, it is necessary to have a special permission of the Ministry of Nature Protection. It is only possible to get there on foot (3 days hike in the jungle).
Cartagena is situated on the Atlantic coast. It is possible to get there by aircraft on any of the local airlines. Time in flight from Bogota is 1.5 hours. Voyages are daily, practically every hour. The climate in Cartagena is hot and moist, with the breeze blowing in from the sea. The temperature is 28-30 degrees Celsius.
Cartagena de Indias was proclaimed part of the historical heritage of humanity by UNESCO. Those who read in their childhood the book about Captain Blad's journeys will recognise the colonial streets, unapproachable forts and fortress walls, palace of Inquisition with the impressive museum of the torture instruments, cathedrals and balconies. Cartagena is also called Heroic. It proclaimed its independence from Spain first and survived the numerous raids of pirates, as well as the blockade of Spaniards and Englishmen. Exactly from here, the coast, is where the Spanish conquest of the country began. For a period of many centuries Cartagena was the largest port of America, the shelter of pirates, and biggest slave market.
Now it is a city of hotels and sandy beaches, trips on coachman and walks by fortress walls, restaurants and eternal fiesta. It seems to have been created for romantics and enamoured ones. Besides the architectural sights of the city of the 16-18 centuries, of which there are a lot (forts San Bernardo and San Jose, that protected Cartagena bay, San Felipe castle and La Popa Monastery), there are other things worth seeing: a museum of gold, dedicated to the cultures of Tayrona and Sinu, the museum of marine biology, monuments to the Worn-Out Boots, and to the indigenous girl Catalina, the symbol of the International film festival, which is held in Cartagena every year in March.
The National Beauty Contest takes place in Cartagena annually in November. The organizers of international and corporate congresses and exhibitions chose the city.
It is worth it to go to another town situated on the island in the middle of the Magdalena river and which is a pearl of architecture under the aegis of UNESCO. This is Mompos, which presents, besides colonial masterpieces, the unique technology of processing gold, known as Mompos filigree.Definitely visit the Corals of Rosario National Park .
This is a trip for the whole day by boat launching from the archipelago Rosario, which consists of 23 coral (predominantly private) islands. The archipelago is separated from Cartagena bay by 47 km.
Leaving from the bay, it is possible to admire the imposing Spanish military forts San Fernando and San Jose de Bokachika.
The nature of this archipelago is predominantly 3 ecosystems - coastal lakes, mangrove brushwood and dry forests.
There are also the snowy sandy beaches, transparent pure water, through which the thickness of the coral reefs and rich underwater world are seen well.
On the isle San Martin there is an aquarium where it is possible to see numerous marine animals (more than 40 species), feed sharks, and admire a dolphin show.
Not far from the Rosario islands there is the so-called Island of Treasures, nearby which Spanish galeon San Jose sank, well-packed by innumerable treasures, robbed by Spanish conquistadors.
Diving, fishing, snorkeling are also practiced. The ship moors to one of the islands (Baru, Islagrande and others ), where it is possible to bath and dine. Here you can taste fresh spiny lobster, fish dishes and rice with coconut.