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Colombia’s oldest city is gateway to natural wonders, cafes and ancestry

Santa Marta is not the first destination that comes to Brazilians’ minds when they talk about Colombia . Bogotá the country’s capital and gateway appears at the front along with the historical, gastronomic and bustling Cartagena .

But just an hour from Barranquilla, Shakira’s homeland, the oldest city in Colombia She keeps two titles for herself that make her seductive: authenticity and ancestry.

Add this to beaches of hot waters kind colorful historic center musical rhythms that range from cumbia to reggaeton, food beyond seasoned with Caribbean influences and resort standing on the sand and you have Santa Marta in front of you.

Among these attributes, simplicity is also a keyword: luxury is not displayed as something material – and it doesn’t need to be. And the heat with an average temperature of 28ºC, the history of essential importance for Spanish America, and food with native fruits, fried foods and unique seasonings, as well as Landscapes and the nightlife which mark the experience.

Paradise park, original cafes and lost city

Just an hour by plane from Panama City, Santa Marta is the gateway to Sierra Nevada the highest coastal mountain system in the world that is a Biosphere Reserve by Unesco, and also for the beaches of Tayrona National Natural Park .

While the first is home to indigenous people and surprises with the interplay between sea, mountains, heat and snow, the second is located between the mountains and the Caribbean Sea, which gives it unique landscapes and tours.

Although Santa Marta’s urban beaches don’t have the appeal of the Caribbean, it is in Tayrona Park that typical Caribbean looks stand out, with clearer waters and green vegetation. The entrance is 34 km from the city center by land, but it is also possible to arrive by sea.

The unmissable beaches in the Tayrona National Natural Park are : Bahia Concha, The Playa Cristal and the famous Cabo San Juan del Guia, the most visited and requires a two-hour walk, but which rewards you with the views. Tickets to Tayrona cost 62,000 COP in low season (R$77) and 73,500 COP in high season (R$91).

The park is the second most visited in Colombia and covers 15 thousand hectares. The tip is to opt for group boat trips, which can leave from the marina in the center of Santa Marta and which give a better perspective of the area. The advantage is being able to swim in calm, clear waters along the way, as well as practicing snorkel .

Already inland, 42 km from the coast, one of the greatest treasures of Sierra Nevada, which has a peak of 5,775 m, is the coffee production . According to the Colombian government, more than four thousand families are involved in local production, while five thousand coffee farms are spread across the region – if you want to visit one of them, the tip is to go to Minca where ecotourism shines with rivers and small properties 40 minutes from Santa Marta.

Plantations in the Sierra Nevada are grown in the shade of native trees, and solar radiation combined with a dry season makes the Arabica coffee with designation of origin has medium acidity and chocolatey notes.

Planting is also carried out by indigenous communities mainly due to Arhuacos , Koguis , Wiwas It is Kankuamos who work to recover their lands.

A Amorigen is one of these projects in which ancestry mixes with everyday life: the brand sells organic coffee from the Kogui ethnic group for 40 thousand COP (around R$50 for 500g of ground coffee) and also handicrafts, such as Arhuacos backpacks, which can be found in establishments throughout the city and in online store.

Speaking of ancestry, the Sierra Nevada is still home to Lost City a sacred area for the indigenous people founded around the year 800, six centuries older than Machu Picchu . Today, ruins of the ancient city blend into the nature-filled landscape.

Getting there, however, is not easy: the journey takes around four days of walking and there are no hotels or restaurants along the way. It is recommended to be with a guide and bring a tent and food. Adventurers who reach the ruins say the connection with the place is powerful, but it’s the path that makes the trip worth it.

The center and tours

In addition to the beaches and discoveries in the mountains, the center of Santa Marta is where the local soul reveals itself. During the day it is ideal to walk the Bastidas Malecon a kind of promenade by the sea, and have a coffee in the Ikaro Cafe which offers a vegan and vegetarian menu in a photogenic environment on a small street of colorful houses – the coffees come from their own farm in the Sierra Nevada.

In the surroundings of Bolivar Park large central square, there is the Tairona Gold Museum which displays archaeological objects from the Sierra Nevada in an old 18th century mansion. Entrance is free and serves as a good stop to shelter from the heat in the air conditioning.

A few steps away is Cathedral Basilica of Santa Marta graceful white building from the 18th century that houses the remains of Rodrigo de Bastidas, founder of the city in 1525.

Commerce around the Los Novios Park , another central square, comes into its own as the sun sets: it is during the night, especially on weekends, that the surrounding area becomes very lively. The streets are full of people, the bars It is restaurants compete for customers on the sidewalk, events take place in the square and rooftops They go into the early hours of the morning surrounded by lots of music.

An option for those who want to enjoy a true Colombian party while spending little is the La Azotea Disco Bar. Without paying anything, just climb a few flights of stairs and find yourself in an open-air bar with a dance floor and a mirrored globe suspended in the center. The place hosts DJs who play everything from rumba to the most recent reggaeton hits.

Keep in mind that, day or night, traffic in the center of Santa Marta is chaotic. Taxis stand out from transport apps, but the price of the ride to a specific address must be agreed in advance.

Source: CNN Brasil

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