So I’m not even going to pretend I saw enough of these two places to really offer advice on them. View this as a post to round out of the complete set, or maybe an idea of where you may want to stay on your way to Ciudad Perdida.
After returning from the trek and picking my bags up from MagicTours, I asked the guy working there what a quick, easy, relaxing thing to do would be before heading to the plane. He recommended heading to Taganga, a 15 minute collectivo ride outside of town, which would cost me 1400p each way. He said there was a nice beach and a pretty harbour, and some nice shops.
So, next morning, after waking up on my own darn schedule, I headed down to the Cathedral Square, found the collectivo with a Taganga sign, paid my 1400 p, and ended up at a sleepy little town with a nice beach and a pretty harbour.
Taganga is the “backpacker ghetto” of the region, the other jumping off point for Ciudad Perdida, and the place you want to go if you want easy access to a nice local beach. There are a few other beaches just outside of Taganga, accessible either by walking or by a boat ride, though I didn’t have time to check those ones out this time around. I got to dip in the water, walk on the main drag, have some delicious pancakes in honour of Daina, and then made my way back to Santa Marta.
If walking around Taganga is relaxing and picturesque, walking around Santa Marta is more… functional. There are plenty of nice hotels right on the water, but the beach is not as nice, the harbor is full of freighters instead of fishing boats, and you’re surrounded by more concrete than trees. It’s a city, though not a particularly big one, and while I could see myself lounging around in Taganga for a few days, I could see myself having to go to Santa Marta for a conference or something.
The one neat thing Santa Marta did have was an outdoor airport. I’ve been in a few small airports where check-in wasn’t that far from the outdoors, but the Santa Marta airport is open air, check-in doesn’t require going through any doors, and you don’t go into an actual closed room until you get to the departure lounge.
So I went to Colombia for an adventure, and Ciudad Perdida definitely provided that. I got to reconnect with an old friend, jumped into the ocean for a few minutes, sampled local food, and got out of the negative bazillion weather of Toronto. Am I an expert on the country? Definitely not. Would I recommend going back? Absolutely. I think it has a lot more to offer than what I saw, and that’s saying a lot.