Santa Marta & Cartagena, Colombia

I took the earliest flight with Aires airlines to get to Barranquilla then a 2-hr bus to Santa Marta. One thing I noticed about Colombia is that the airports and bus terminals in most major cities are usually located very far from the city center that you’ll have to take a cab to get there with your heavy luggage. I felt the tropical weather as soon as I got off the airport. The 2-hr bus ride was very scenic with a combination of sea and trees. Within 10 minutes of my arrival at the El Noctamburo hostel, I already sweated. The warm weather really reminds me of my home country, Malaysia, where wearing a t-shirt and shorts and flip-flop is the typical outfit all year round. Because of the warm weather, there are a lot of street vendors selling cold drinks like Tamarindo, Agua Panela, and lemonade. Tamarindo and Agua Panela are my favorites. Santa Marta is a beautiful small town and everything you need can be found on the main street in Centro. Five days in Santa Marta, one day was spent at beaches in Taganga. Another day at Bahia Concha which has crystalline water but getting there requires a taxi and a bumpy jeep ride. I also did a day trip to the Tayrona national park. The park needs a full day if not two to explore the beautiful beaches along the trail. Getting to the Cabo San Juan area took me about one hour hiking the trail in flip-flop. The rest of the time I just took a leisurely stroll around town, what a relaxing life! After Santa Marta, I hopped on the bus for Cartagena which is 4 hours away. Cartagena is hotter than Santa Marta, I had a hard time trying to sleep the first night in the dorm room with fan. The Makako Chill Out hostel that I stayed at provides complimentary lemonade which is awesome for the hot weather. The walled old town is the highlight of Cartagena with numerous colonial style architectures. I went out for a walk whenever I felt bored in the hostel. The style of the wall is very similar to the fort built in San Juan, Puerto Rico, which makes sense since they were all built by the Spaniards. Walking on top of the wall surrounding the old town is lovely during sunset. The BocaGrande area reminds me of Miami the way the buildings there look. The beach and sea color in Cartagena are only mediocre. I took a day boat trip to Isla de Rosario and Playa Blanca where everything becomes paradise-like after a 2-hr boat ride. The boat first brought us to the Isla de Rosario area where the islands there are barely big enough for one house. The boat then stopped at an aquarium where a visit to the aquarium is optional and I chose to stay on the boat and enjoy the view of Caribbean islands and sea. Playa Blanca was the highlight of the trip where we had 2 hours of time to enjoy the warm sea water and the beautiful beach. The El Castillo de San Felipe fort offers free entrance into the fort on every last Sunday of the month. The view of the old town on top of the fort is good and there is a super big Colombian flag flowing for a great show off picture.

Taganga

Playa Grande next to Taganga beach

Locals fishing at Bahia Concha

Tayrona National Park

Cabo San Juan

Another beautiful beach in Tayrona Park

Boca Grande in Cartagena

Walls built by the Spaniards

Views from the aquarium at Isla de Rosario

El Castillo de San Felipe

The flag is really huge!

This is Cartagena!!!

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