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For those of you who don’t know, La Guajira is the northern most department in Colombia. It is an exotic peninsula bordered by Venezuela and the Caribbean Sea. It contains some of the most incredible natural landscapes I have ever laid eyes on and is home to the incredible Wayuu indigenous group. Even so, La Guajira is perhaps one of the least explored regions in Colombia, both by Colombians and foreign tourists alike, and still lags behind other regions and cities of Colombia when it comes to popular travel destinations. After having travelled around La Guajira several times, I have realized, though, that it is a truly magical place full of color, nature, history, culture, and life.
Sunset in Poportí, La Guajira
La Guajira has some of the most unique and most virgin beaches in all Colombia. Beaches like Mayapo, Manaure, Cabo de la Vela, Pilón de Azúcar, and Poportí will make you think of beaches in a whole new way. Mayapo is breeming with pearl white sand, turquoise water, and local restaurants serving up your traditional fried red snapper, coconut rice, and plantain dish; Manaure will give you the chance to swim in some of the saltiest water you may have ever come across—it will leave your hair crystallized and your skin starch white. The beaches of Cabo de la Vela will remind you of the gorgeous postcard beaches you’ve seen in other parts of the Caribbean--there, you’ll find some of the most crystalline water set against the backdrop of a bright orange cliff leading to the beach below the Pilón de Azúcar where turquoise waves crash against burnt red rocks covered in exotic green moss. Traveling a bit further off the beaten path, the beaches of Poportí will amaze you with their shell cementaries, overflowing with giant, ancient-appearing shells scattered across miles and miles of virgin beach.
Salty beaches of Manaure, La Guajira
Beaches in Cabo de la Vela, La Guajira
In addition to hosting some of the most majestic beaches I've ever had the chance to grace, La Guajira is home to the incredibly colorful and unique Wayuu tribe. The Wayuu indians are one of the most well-known and most populous indigenous groups in Colombia, and their presence is felt all over La Guajira. As you drive through this rustic and desertic department, you will constantly be reminded you are traveling through sacred Wayuu territory. You will see the goat herds belonging to the Wayuu roaming in all parts, you will come across Wayuu children charging toll fees to travel through their land, you will see Wayuu women selling their brightly colored, handmade, and nationally famous mochilas and hammocks, and you will frequently pass Wayuu rancherías (traditional Wayuu housing) peaking through the overwhelming cactus forests surrounding you. Regardless of where you are in the La Guajira, you cannot escape the colorful world, presence and influence of this amazing tribe. The Wayuu are another integral part of what makes La Guajira such an enchanting place to visit.
Wayuu inspired mural in Uribia, La Guajira
Perhaps one of the most enticing elements of La Guajira is that it is not overrun with tourists or towns catering to tourists. It is still painfully and beautifully authentic. It hasn't sold out to cheap replicas of traditional goods, fast versions of typical dishes, or overcrowded "natural" landmarks. The Guajiros and the Wayuu are proud of their hertiage and traditions and are proud of the natural and sacred beauty of the land they live in. While there is a constantly increasing number of travelers making their way to La Guajira, it's still a place where you can get lost in local culture and appreciate authentic beauty. In La Guajira, you never know what exciting opportunities might present themselves or what unbelievable sights you may come across as you explore this off-the-radar destination.
Shells in Poportí, La Guajira
So, what are you waiting for? La Guajira is calling...