Friday, May 30, 2008

Cartagena, Santa Marta, Ciudad Perdida

Hello all,

We flew up to Cartagena and we ended up spending much more time there than we intended. It was a lovely city and the real narrow streets and the generally laid back atmosphere reminded me of Cuba an awful lot. The first 2 days we didn't get up to a whole lot bar just strolling around the streets otherwise known as bumming around. I think we might have been a small bit shattered from all the bus trips before this. After 2 days of this we reckoned we should get our act together and the following day we headed for Isla de Rosario and Playa Blanca. I didn´t think much of the tour and we probably would have been as well just heading straight for Playa Blanca. The nhext day we headed for Volcan de Tolcan which is a volcano that is filled with mud from it bubbling. It was really good surprisingly. We met a crowd on this trip from Brasil, Germany, America and Switzerland and ended up going on a Chiva bus around the town that night with them to be dropped at a nightclub later. It was a ripoff though if any other travellers are reading this. It was 25 mil for just over an hour whereas it's advertised as being 4 hours and most of this time wasn't spent on the bus. Very good sport and got a fair bit of free rum into us.

The following day post champions league final we headed for Santa Marta via Taxi to bus station via Bucaramanga (Shakiras birthplace by the way but sadly didn't get the photo of her statue) via station in Santa Marta to Taganga. Taganga is a great little coastal town just outside Santa Marta but sadly infiltrated with scores of Israelis and every restaurant seems to cater for that. I wouldn't be surprised if half the town is Israeli owned but that's pure hearsay. We only nbummed around here for 2 nights and then we did penance on the Ciudad Perdida trek.

I´d recommend the trek but you would definitely want to be in some sort of condition. I´m in the prime of my life at 29. If there´s anyone reading this blog and you´re touch and go whether you´ll actually do the trek you can post comments here and I´ll get my girfriend Caroline to get back to you on how hard the trek was as her and my opinions would differ a good bit and she read alot of blogs before she did it as she was unsure of the difficulty. The first day had a hard first hour but the other 2 hours were ok. Day 2 I think was 5 hours walking but it was easyish. We got there when we thought we had at least 1 more hour of walking left. Day 3 I think was the hardest with 8 river crossings which I did in my bare feet but you´d probably be better off if you had flip flops or sandals. After this there were 1350 steps to the top to Ciudad Perdida. We only spent 1 day in Ciudad Perdida and to be honest this is enough. Day 4 was long enough but from here on in each day was a repeat of what we´d done before. 5 was fine but 6 was tough as there was heavy rain with about an hour to go. Was very testing but I thought the hike was very good. Our guides Gabrielle and Alberto were excellent. I think magitours in Taganga was the name of the tour company we did it with.

After tonight we´ll have spent 3 nights in Taganga post tour. Just relaxed for most of it as well as catching the Ireland V Colombia match here, Ireland jersey and all. Today we went to Parque Tayrona. This was well worth a visit. It´s about an hour from Santa Marta so if you´re going you should go early as there´s a bit of walking to get to the beaches even when you get the jeep from the front gate.

Early start in the morning to head into Venezuela. The only thing we´ll see will be Angel Falls here and after that we´ll be heading for Sao Paulo followed by Iguazu falls. Hope the sunshine is lasting at home. 16 days to go.

Here are the latest photos:
Cartagena, Taganga, Ciudad Perdida

More photos to follow as they´re not loading very fast for me tonight.

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