The last couple of days we had the pleasure of seeing another small Caribbean coastal town of Colombia. As you drive from Cartagena, the vegetation gets drier and drier to the point where cactus trees line the streets and it appears desert-like.Â The rolling hills while not lush, are interestingly covered in cacti, a mountainous desert in a way.
We drove through the town of Barranquilla where preparations for the annual Carnival parties were going on. Since our trip was focused on diving, we did not stop here for the festivities but the carnival here is apparently one of the biggest in the world, just not as well know yet as those in places like Rio de Janeiro and Trinidad.
This part of the country is surprisingly quite undeveloped, with most houses being small wood-framed huts along the road.Â The winding road took us up into the mountains and down over the other side to the small town of Taganga, near the one of the oldest ports, Santa Marta. Taganga is a tiny beach town with lots of dive shops and backpackers.
Diving here was different, it always amazes me each time I go under water and a different world appears. Here the visibility wasnâ€™t as great as San AndrÃ©s, but the coral was interesting. Huge rocks covered in different coloured hard corals and lots of different fish. The sea was pretty rough though and even though our instructor Max and his wife of Poseidon Dive Center took us out in a great fully equipped boat, the rocking back and forth on our way to the beach for lunch made me seasick!
We arrived at Tayrona National Park for an afternoon on a secluded beach where the Ecohabs are located. â€œEco Habsâ€ stand for Eco â€“ habitaciones (or Eco Rooms in English). They are huts built in the traditional indigenous style of the region, furnished with comfortable beds in white linens, hammocks looking out to the forest or the sea, stone and ceramic bathrooms and even a flatscreen and iPod docking station, all under a thatched roof and 360 degree wood-shuttered windows.
We had a delicious 3-course meal on the beach. At this ecolodge several trails through the rainforest can be explored with a naturalist to see monkeys and various endemic species of birds and other wildlife.Â The lodge is run by solar power and has several other initiatives to make it the greenest accommodation in Colombia.
With that our two weeks in the Caribbean drew to a close. We were then off to BogotÃ¡ for the real work to begin â€“ the travel trade show â€“ and another chance to explore the capital city at its high and cool altitude of 2640m (7900 feet!).