La Guajira: The other end of the world

La Guajira desert, the most northern tip of South America covered in sand and draught. I already heard some pretty spectacular stories about this deserted strip of land in Colombia and couldn’t wait to see it with my own eyes.

The road to La Guajira

Going to La Guajira you got two options. You can do a tour that costs you a shitload of money, or you can figure it out yourself. Not only more backpacker budget friendly, also a lot more adventurous. Make sure you find an English guy like I did, and you got nothing to worry about.

So there we went, two Belgians, two English and I off to the desert. On this little field trip we probably used every sort of transportation you can think of, ranging from moto’s, minibuses, 4×4’s to boats going through landscapes that changed even quicker than we changed vehicles.

la guajira desert view
Welcome to the desert

roadtrip La Guajira

Lobsters and Kitesurfing

Our first stop was Cabo de la Vela. A little desert town where it hasn’t rained for about three years. Not a single drop. It’s also the place where the indigenous Wayuu people live that make the most gorgeous bags. It takes them a month to make one bag and all patterns have a meaning and belong to a certain family.

wayuu woman Cabo de La vela
One of the Wayuu women
streets cabo de la vela
The “streets” of Cabo de la Vela

Cabo de la Vela also had a little surprise waiting for me. I’ve always wanted to learn how to kite surf, but never really got the chance to do it. And here I was, in the middle of nowhere without running water or any sort of Western luxury, only to find out this is the place to be for kitesurfing. So exciting!! A first attempt at kitesurfing got rewarded by another perk of Cabo de la Vela: $8 lobsters. This little desert town got it all figured out I must say!

kitesurfing lesson Cabo de la Vela

kitesurfing Cabo de La vela

most northern point of South America
The most Northern point of South America

Northern Milestones

Cabo de la Vela wasn’t our final destination though. We got another 4×4 and a boat that brought us to Punta Gallinas; the most northern point of South America. Quite a milestone I must say… I got to touch ground in the most southern point in Argentina and now, after 6 months made it all the way up to this special place. Instead of considering taking a ferry to Antarctica, up north we found sand dunes. Quite the opposite. This is how we roll… literally.

Punta Gallinas view
Our hammock was literally 20m from this view… how amazing is that?

sunset punta gallinas

beach walks desert punta Gallinas
The dunes of Punta Gallinas

Cookie Toll

There’s something special about the road politics between Cabo de la Vela and Punta Gallinas. The dusty dirt roads here are ruled by the indigenous kids and their moms who figured out that tourists can be quite fruitful. Since there’s practically nothing and there’s no way you can start your own little vegetable garden, you gotta find other ways to get food. Well, those smart ass kids figured it out: Cookie toll. Every ten meters or so there’s a big rope across the road and a group of sassy kids that won’t let you through unless you give them cookies. Damn, I wish I was that smart on that age.

mother child cookie toll la guajira
Coming to collect their toll…
wayuu boys cookie toll la guajira
Serious business; no cookies, no entry

A proper way of leaving La Guajira

Four days of desert fun in La Guajira made us longing for pretty beaches with palmtrees again. However, getting back to Palomino didn’t go as smooth as our way in. 19 people, two babies, a box full of lobsters, a chicken and a goat, all pushed into the back of a truck. And there’s always room for more.

Oh well, you can’t leave La Guajira without an experience like this. We must have been just as much the tourist attraction as our co-travelers were for us. This beautiful part of Colombia has been worth every hassle and is definitely one of the highlights of my trip. Colombia has been rocking, please keep on doing just that and I’ll probably never leave.


truck transport la guajira
Always room for more

kitesurfing Cabo de la Vela

Wayuu woman selling lobsters in La Guajira
Lobsters, anyone?

Wayuu girl in shop La Guajira

sleeping in hammocks on the beach
Our accommodation for a day or four

houses in La Guajira

local gas station of La Guajira
Local gas station
Beach Cabo de La Vela
Beaches of Cabo de la Vela

Kitesurfing Cabo de la Vela

Kitesurfing Cabo de la Vela

boat to Punta Gallinas

Colombian woman driving to Punta Gallinas
This sweet woman drove us to Punta Gallinas

Old car in Cabo de la Vela

sunset cabo de la vela

La Guajira fence of cactus
Who needs a fence when you got cactuses?

Cookie Toll wayuu people la Guajira

Lobsters La Guajira

Punta Gallinas
Punta Gallinas in the glow of the late afternoon sun

desert punta gallinas

desert walks Punta Gallinas

desert truck punta gallinas

punta gallinas desert la guajira

punta gallinas view desert

punta gallinas dog walk

Wayuu bags la Guajira
Bags made by the Wayuu women

Most northern point of South America roadtrip

Sleeping in hammocks in Punta Gallinas

desert la guajira
No mans land

Punta Gallinas desert beach

Punta gallinas Colombia

Wayuu baby girl La Guajira

Chaos at the market of Uribia

Sunset cabo de la vela


Photos by: M. Barends ©

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