If you think about paradise beaches, maybe you imagine white sand, a blue sky and a shiny sun every day. The Colombian pacific coast is a little bit different of your paradise dream.
The pacific coast is a little piece of Africa in the middle of America: a black culture between jungle and beaches. It’s the strength of the ocean, the dark of the sand and the sky and the afro-descendant culture hides in the middle of a forgotten place, Buenaventura.
Being there, we really advise you to take ones days to discover the small village of San Cipriano, ubicated in a beautiful landscape in a natural reserve and only joinable with an incredible collective transportation!!!
Where : Juanchaco, Ladrilleros, La Barra ; Colombian Pacific Coast
How to go there?
- From where you are, you must search any bus that goes to Buenaventura (from Bogota, they are two buses by day – 10 hours – $50.000~$60.000).
- At Buenaventura, you have to walk around 10 minutes to join the touristic harbor and take there a ship to Juanchaco (return trip ticket : $70.000). You’ll have to pay $7.000 additional for the harbor tax. The journey lasts less of 1 hour and will drop you off on the Juanchaco’s beach.
- When you’ll be in Juanchaco, you can easily access to the smaller villages of Ladrilleros and La barra by taking a moto-taxi : ~$3.000 ; if you want to walk, you’ll can join Ladrilleros in 30 minutes, and La Barra, in one hour.
What to do:
- Pacific culture and Community
These three villages are fishermen settlements, located at the mouth of the Bay of Malaga. The inhabitants of this region are mostly descendants of African slaves that were taken to exploit the wealth of that region. Despite of this tragic past, there is a sense of community and solidarity between people and, even if these places are ones of the poorest of Colombia and were strongly hit by the violence, you’ll be very surprise to not really notice it. To say it with other words, it reigns there a peaceful ambient and people really try to preserve it.
If you’re curious, you’ll can discover there the Afro-Colombian culture by speaking with local people, tasting their gastronomy or listening to Pacific music and its Marimba. In Juanchaco, there is a foundation of local musicians that will enjoy to show you what they do : just ask for the foundation of Marina !
It’s also obligatory to mention that this region shelters indigenous settlements, whom one of them is accessible by walking. It’s ubicated near the harbor of Estuary (between Ladrilleros and La Barra) and you can go to visit it. Around 30 persons live there, in traditional houses made in wood that really merit to be seen: this typical technic of construction reveals ingenious capacity to build houses. You can also discover there a part of native handcrafts, that are conscient souvenirs to bring back home.
- Pacific Ocean and its coast
The beaches of Ladrilleros and La Barra are good places to take a bath in the Ocean and to enjoy this beautiful landscape. You can walk all along the coast and discover how the Pacific Ocean meets with the jungle.
/!\ Before walking along the beach, please speak with local people and be aware of high and low tides : it can be dangerous if the Ocean blocks you!
If you like aquatic sports, you can also go kayaking on the Pacific Coast or surfing. Different organisms propose that plans.
In the end of the day, take the time to see the sunset, drinking for example the famous Cocoloco, a tasty cocktail made with coconut milk and different liquors.
- Mangroves and natural pools
If the west side of this region is boarded by the Pacific Ocean, the interior’s lands shelter a totally different environment. Indeed, you can discover there the mangroves: a tropical forest of estuaries.
Lots of local people propose touristic tours to guide you in boat across this incredible environment and to bath you in natural pools. You’ll discover the wealth of that landscape and its tranquility.
Cost : $15.000 ~ $30.000/pers, depending on the tour’s time and the variety of places you’ll going to go.
- A bathing in a peacefully environment
If you’re tired of the Ocean, you can go to take a bath in a calm river. You’ll just have to follow these indications and walk for 30 minutes.
- From Ladrilleros, you have to walk in the direction of La Barra.
- At a moment, you’ll see a crossroads: you have to turn right, following the sign ‘Estuario’.
- Continuing in that way, you’ll see on your right a water station: just when it ends, take on the right on a pathway which boards the station’s wire fence.
- You’ve to walk approximately 100 meters and you’ll meet with a cloture: quit the pathway to ride along the cloture by the right. You’ll discover a little path in the vegetation. Just follow this for 5 minutes more and you’ll get to the river.
You have a pond on the right and another one, more profound, on the left side. If you walk 100 meters more following the water, you’ll discover one more pond.
There, you’ll can enjoy the tranquility of the jungle and the nature’s energy. Maybe you’ll have the luck to meet with turtles and lizards. Don’t be nervous, they are inoffensive! If you stay quiet in the river, little fishes will come to eat your dead skin.
- Pacific gastronomy and spirits
In that region, you’ll can enjoy a variety of seaside food and discover fresh fishes. Other specialties of the region are the ceviche de camarones and empanadas de camarones, delicious dishes made with shrimps.
The Pacific Coast also prepares a traditional alcohol called Viche, an artisanal liquor prepared by the indigenes of that region based on sugar cane. With that, around 500 cocktails are prepared by the afro community with different plants and spices. If you want to have an overview of that, you can ask for Marina, who lives in Juanchaco, near the military basis. That local woman prepares an incredible variety of this Pacific elixir and she’ll be rapturous to explain you the history of this beverage. If you want to bring back Viche as souvenir, here you have sophisticated ones! Another place to buy Viche is in Martin’s store, ubicated in Ladrilleros: local people use to say that is the best traditional Viche of the region and It’s very economic!
Where to sleep:
The larger offer of accommodations in that region stills remain in the village of Juanchaco. Nevertheless, Ladrilleros also proposes different places to stay, in a more peacefully environment. Indeed, the majority of tourists sleep in Juanchaco, which is the entry gate of that region. If you’re less regarded on comfort, you’ll can also find in La Barra habitations in locals’ houses. Anyway, you’ll can easily find a place to sleep, depending on what you’re searching: hostels, peacefully huts, camping and family hotels.
If you want to have a grat experince in Colombia, you got to live and shared with the locals, went kayaking on the Pacific Coast, visited the mangroves and had few drinks and some dance in the down town, enjoying the surrounding nature, trying the artisanal spirits of the region. A little bit of the afro heritag.
Juanchaco, Ladrilleros and La Barra. 3 places to met and have a experience with afro culture in Colombia