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Traveling from the Wind Paradise through a mud river to the super beach

Driving from Cabo de la Vela to Punta Gallinas

After my adventure into the lost city, I set off for La Guajira. This department is not only the northernmost of Colombia, but also has the northernmost point of the whole continent, the Punta Gallinas. A perfect destination for Colombia holidays. On my trip, I stopped in Riohacha, where I had coffee with my local partners for the region and exchanged the latest information. We spoke about the tour to Punta Gallinas, where I could drive with my own vehicle. This, however, in the convoy with two other vehicles, which were steered by Wayúu. The Wayúu are the indigenous people living in the area. However, their territory is located partly in Venezuela. So the Wayúu are usually dual citizens and can move freely across borders.

After all the details were discussed, I drove on to Cabo de la Vela, where I spent the next two days. Cabo de la Vela is a small fishing village on the west coast of the department. The wind is very steady, strong and offshore. As a former windsurfer, I started kite surfing there 2 years ago and rightly claim that this is one of the best spots in the world. I also like the fact that Cabo de la Vela has hardly been developed touristically even though it should be on every travelers bucketlist during Colombia vacation. As it is desert climate it is best to sleep in a hammock at night. You will not find luxury hotels here. La Guajira is one of the poorest regions in Colombia and many Wayúu speak no Spanish due to lack of education.

In the early morning of the third day, I met with the Wayúu drivers. The journey should be a true adventure. Already at the sight of the other vehicles I noticed that they were a lot more off-road than mine. I also took two backpackers with me. We were on the road for about 2 hours when the classic roads stopped in this form and the ground became rocky or sandy. Interestingly, there were always children with strings on the wayside, which they released as we drove through. I did not understand the meaning of this technique until we had to stop. This was not voluntary. The highwayman had this time stretched no string but a chain. From the front vehicles food was served. Fortunately, the day before I had bought a large pack of crackers, which we could now use as a toll. The pace was very high, even among the Wayúu seemed to give some racers. After another drive we were completely in the desert and there were no signs of road. Due to the rain in recent weeks, there were regular stops and the Wayúu walked a few steps to test the ground and to discuss the best of the route briefly.

Due to our high speed, we caught up with 2 other vehicles, with which our convoy grew to 5 vehicles. On a river, in the middle of the desert, however, a stop was announced for the first time. All drivers met for a meeting and started a site inspection. A first driver then ventured a crossing and got stuck. A second vehicle did not fare better. Both, however, were pulled out again. Only at the fifth attempt one of the vehicles made the crossing. After about 30 minutes, all vehicles were translated, with one that had to be repaired. While it was in the river, it suffered minor engine damage. I was lucky (or was it my driving skills?) that I did not need help for the crossing.

After lunch and over five hours of driving, we finally arrived at Punto Gallinas. Although the journey is arduous, it’s worth it. The area is very meager, but has something magical for me. We visited a beach, where the dune flows directly into the sea. Nobody else was there except us. A little piece of paradise on earth. After some swimming and rest on the beach we visited more places and finally drove to the hotel. There one has the option between “room” with mattresses or hammocks, but everything is completely sufficient. The showers and sanitary facilities are also completely OK. After a good meal and a few beers, everyone went to bed early.

The next morning, the tourists were shipped on a boat. With our vehicles we had to make a detour and met the group 2 hours later to pick them up again. On the way there my colleague drivers once had to drag me up a dune and once pull out of a muddy river. Although we had to stop several times, so that minor repairs could be made to the other vehicles and a radiator evaporated all the drinking water of the tourists, the return trip went without incident.

La Guajira is one of my favorites in Colombia. The area, the climate and the people exude on me an indescribable magic. For visitors who want to travel Colombia in a luxury manner, certainly not the right destination, La Guajira offers a great experience for visitors who are a little adventurous. La Guajira, I’ll be back!

Pelecanus Travel Colombia

May 2017

Blog Frank Spitzer



  1. whathelll 3 February, 2018 at 5:11 am - Reply

    Hi, I’m doing this drive in mid March. How did you hook up with the drivers? I’m renting a toyota fortuner from cartagena and making my way over there.

    • admin 6 February, 2018 at 7:09 pm - Reply

      Hi Whathelll
      Firstly mid March should be no problem as there will be no or just little rain fall. Saying that, Punta Gallinas is not accesible by car after rain. With a Fortuner you will be good, it is a reliable car and four by four.

      As I wrote in my Blog, I drove in a convoy with other cars with Wayuu drivers. They work for the travel agency we collaborate in the region. You shouldn’t try to drive up there alone, you will get lost.

      You can either send us an email at info@pelecanus.com.co and I will provide you a contact or you can reach out for a local travel agency yourself or you drive up to Cabo de la Vela and talk to the local people. I hope this helped.

      best regards
      The Pelecanus Team

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