Over the last year, we heard great things about travelling to Colombia. I was intrigued by the country, so it was natural pick for our next trip.
I cannot say enough good things about the country. The people are lovely, the culture is interesting, the landscape is beautiful and we found it safe. We decided to stick to the northern coast in the Caribbean area. We originally wanted to visit Medellin and fly to Cartagena, but our short timeline convinced us to stick to the northern coast.
We flew into Cartagena to start our journey along the northern coast of Colombia. There is an interesting Caribbean influence in this part of Colombia. We stayed in Getsemani, which is outside the Walled City, but still within the “outer wall” of the old city. This is a beautiful, colourful and hip area of the city.
It feels less touristy and gave us a better taste of the city. This area has local music, great food and a busy late night atmosphere, especially on weekends. It’s lovely to walk through the streets and meet locals sitting outside their homes.
Getsemani is walking distance to the Walled City and Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas – both of, which are worth a visit. The Walled City is certainly touristy, but it’s pretty for an afternoon walk. This area has lots of shops, restaurants and places to buy souvenirs.
San Felipe is a fort dating back to 1536 with an interesting history. We explored on our own (plus watched a video on their history) in about 2 hours. The best part is that they allow visitors to explore the tunnels deep below the fort.
Volcan de Lodo El Totumo
We took a day trip to Volcan de Lodo El Totumo. El Totumo is a mud volcano – yes you heard right mud! It also happens to be the smallest volcano in the country, but its uniqueness makes it worth the visit. Legend has it this was once a volcano with lava and I priest blessed it to become mud. The mud is supposed to have minerals that are good for you skin.
We climbed up the staircase built on the side of the volcano and looked down at the mud below. We were hesitant at first, but the mud was buoyant and warm – much more pleasant than expected. Although the mud is incredibly deep, it’s impossible to sink. You just float on the surface, as the occasional bubble of sulphur comes up.
For COP 4,000 you can get a massage in the volcano and for an additional COP 4,000 someone will take pictures with your camera. You cannot bring one in yourself because they do not want them dropped in the volcano.
Washing off the mud is almost as interesting as the volcano itself. We walked down the cobblestone path towards the lake below. A lady quickly appeared and sat us down in the shallow water. She had a small bowl to wash water over our head. If you are self-conscious, leave that feeling at the door! Bathing suits were moved around, boobs were scrubbed, ears were cleaned out and my boyfriend lost his shorts for a few minutes. The group we walked down with, after the whirlwind experience, left clean (for another COP 4,000).
We added a lunch on the beach and a mangrove tour to our excursion. The mangrove tour was very interesting and beautiful. A boat took us through the tunnels inside the mangroves before emerging to a large, but shallow lake.
Cartagena and the area around it were beautiful. I would highly recommend this area as a stepping off point to the northern coast.
Read about our other adventures in Colombia: