The Guajira Peninsula, in the northeastern corner of Colombia, is the most northern tip of South America. It is a desert with raging surfs where the sand flows into the Caribbean Sea. As a tourist destination it is very much off-the-beaten-track. You sleep in a hammock. The nights are sultry. Punta Gallinas is the name of the most northen tip of Colombia and South America. In the low season it is peaceful and quiet. You look at groups of flamingos that line the beach. You are in the Guajira Peninsula.
The Guajira Peninsula is a desert like strip of land in northeastern Colombia, along the border with Venezuela. It is part of the Caribbean region of Colombia, however, the peninsula is separated from the rest of Colombia by the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range.
The Peninsula consists mainly of deserted beach. It is a sparsely populated area and not attractive for mass tourism. You can get there by renting a 4×4 jeep or by plane. During the rainy season from September to November, the area is largely inaccessible because the dirt roads become impassable. Public transport is not available.
In general, the Peninsula de Guajira is an inhospitable place. There is always a strong wind, the soil is sandy and the Macuira mountains rise suddenly over a short distance as a wall up to 900 meters above sea level. At the foot of the mountains you will feel the desert heat. Very Few people live in the Guajira peninsula. The Wayuu Indians go about their business in a manner largely unchanged. They live in small villages of a few hundred men across the region.
There are no real cities in this area. The closest thing to a city is the settlement of Uribía, the capital and the hub of the peninsula. If you drive around the region you will surely come across some of the Wayuu people. You see them herding their goats. And occasionally you will see them sailing onto the Caribbean Sea. They dive for pearls there.
The beaches at Cabo de la Vela
If you come to this area for the beaches, you will find the most beautiful ones at Cabo de la Vela. This is also the place to find accommodation if you are planning to spend the night. There are several dozen small hotels here. You usually rent a simple hut with a bed or a hammock. You can feel the sand beneath your feet when you get up in the morning. It’s usually nice and warm (or scorching) already.
Pilon de Azucar Beach
For the most beautiful beaches of the region you have to do a little walking. An hour’s walk from Cabo de la Vela lies the beach Pilon de Azucar. Half an hour further, you will reach Ojo de Agua. These are desert beaches with a foaming surf and golden sands. You will not find many tourists here. You just might have them all to yourself.
The best part of the Guajira Peninsula is the most northern point of Colombia (and South America). You can only reach Punta Gallinas by boat or with a 4×4 SUV. The beach is being hit with constant winds and it is a perfect place for windsurfing. However, the chance of you seeing someone windsurfing on this desolate spot is still small.
Off the beaten track
In this most northern destination of South America you can spend time baking in the sun. You can walk along the waterfront to search for pink flamingos. Or you can withdraw to the rocks elsewhere to discover more hidden beaches. But wherever you go, you are likely to be alone. You won’t quickly find another place in South America where you will feel more “off-the-beaten-track”.
Things to do in the Guajira Peninsula?
- For the most beautiful beaches go to Cabo de la Vela, also the best place to stay. Hire a simple hut with a hammock and feel the the sand between your toes when you get up.
- Enjoy Pilon de Azucar and Playa Ojo de Agua. These are desert beaches with golden sand and sparkling surfs. Here you will have the beach all to yourself.
- Punta Gallinas located at the most northern point and always has strong winds. So perfect weather for windsurfing. Meanwhile, enjoy the many pink flamingos.
- Are you on the Guajira Peninsula on May 31st? Go to the settlement of Uribia. On this day the local Wayuu Indians celebrate their Festival of the Wayuu Culture.
- Fall asleep in a hammock with sound of the Caribbean sea and the vision of the star-filled sky.