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“Squalid conditions, idiot guide, filth and poverty.”

Kite Addict Colombia
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Attraction details
Owner description: Imagine a lovely group of guys, who are more than passionate into kite; a desert next to the beach in a Zone out of time; fresh Fish and a Sky of sparkling diamonds. Staying in cabo with the guys from the school: one of the best times i had in colombia!!! GRACIAS POR TODOS! And meanwhile, they fulfilled they Job: get kite addicted!
Australia
Level Contributor
25 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 125 helpful votes
“Squalid conditions, idiot guide, filth and poverty.”
Reviewed February 13, 2013

I went to Ciudad Perdida with Magic Tours and it was a pleasant trip, so I had no qualms booking a 2 day tour to Cabo de la Vela from Santa Marta with Magic Tours.
After traveling in more than 60 countries I can confidently say that this was one of the worst travel experiences of my life, and I felt much like a refugee or prisoner of war during these two days of hell.
Cabo de la Vela is in an extremely poor and dirty part of Colombia. The Cabo itself is a bit of dry dusty hill. The beaches are filthy, with overflowing / tipped over trash cans in the car parks. You need to pick your way through copious plastic rubbish on the paths to the beaches, and there is nowhere clean to sit on the beach because there is so much rubbish. There are thousands of prettier coastal landscapes and thousands of nicer / cleaner beaches in the Caribbean, let alone the world.
If you have EVER seen a dry landscape before, if you have EVER seen a beach before, if you have EVER seen a dirt road before, if you have EVER seen people living in poverty before, then there is absolutely no reason to come here.
The "sights" we saw along the way I would not even count as sights. Our driver / guide did not stick in any way to the timetable, instead, he treated the trip as if it was his holiday, and we were tagging along. Thus we visited the salt pools in Manaure (you get to gawk at some of the poorest men in Colombia slaving away in appalling conditions), we stopped in Uribia (a town notable only for being even more full of rubbish that its surrounds) for the driver to buy contraband gasoline from Venezuela, we stopped to look at some modern wind turbines (which you can find in just about every country these days ie NOT a tourist attraction). We sat around for more than an hour waiting for "lunch" (at 5pm, and after that the guide announced that since we had eaten so late, we didn't need to have dinner!) and arrived at Cabo de la Vela in time to watch the sun set (again, if you have EVER seen a sunset...)
The accommodation - not "Rancheria Wayuu" as advertised, but a squalid place called Donde Mamicha - was horrifying. Hammocks were hung for us in the restaurant next to some boys watching tv - ie no privacy, no blankets or mosquito nets, and THERE WAS NO ACCESS TO FRESH WATER. There was a huge bucket of rancid sea water next to the toilets, and with this we were expected to make do. Of course, when the guide had swum in the sea the next day and wanted to have a bath himself, HE managed to get himself some fresh water to wash himself.
The next day we were held captive by the guide on a hot a dirty beach for some hours and taken to a filthy fly blown restaurant for lunch. Unsurprisingly, I contracted a parasitic intestinal infection requiring drug treatment. Despite continuous travels in often poor countries - this was the first time this had happened to me for 5 years - a good indication of how filthy Cabo de la Vela is. I cannot overemphasize how unpleasant these couple of days were, and would not subject my dog to such a trip.

Visited February 2013
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18 Thank AJSardine
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Houston
Level Contributor
97 reviews
25 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
“Ask questions”
Reviewed January 24, 2013

We booked a one-day tour to El Cabo de la Vela with Wayuu tours. Price was equivalent to other places (100,000 COP per person including transport and lunch). SUV picked us up at 5 AM at the hotel, and surprise-surprise there was already a family of 6 in the car, so we had to travel on the trunk on lateral seats. Long journey in sandy open roads, so we were not comfortable. First stop was Manaure (salt mine), but driver did not take us to the mine (lagoons), but to the packing place. Not much to see and guide was not there by the time we arrived. One of the workers volunteer to bring us in, and explain the process. He did not know much, but nice gesture for a small tip. Trip continued to Uribia, known as the handcraft capital. We thought they were going to take us to the markets to see and buy all the beautiful handcrafts made by the Wayuu tribe ... wrong, this stop was for the driver to have breakfast. We stopped at a bakery, and were able to have some food and bring water and snacks for the rest of the trip. Arrived at Utta rancheria and ordered luch to be prepared by 1 PM, couple of options, but good. Then driver took as to pilon de azucar (small hill by the beach), this was the highlight of the trip, amazing views of the sea, the beach, the desert, the lagoon. Driver was a driver, no guide, no explantion, nothing, he only took us from point A to point B. We had a couple of hours there to enjoy the view and the sea. Beach was beautiful, but water a bit cold. Around 12:30 headed back to the Rancheria, had lunch, took a small nap, and back to Riohacha arriving at 5 PM. Overall, the views and landscapes were worth it, but we were expecting much more from a tour arranged by a travel agency. We regret taking the ride in the trunk of the SUV as we were in pain next day, but since we are already up that early and did not have much time, we decided to come. Lesson learned, ask questions, or be surprised ...

Visited January 2013
Helpful?
4 Thank sooner_orchid
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Level Contributor
57 reviews
21 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
“wild, natural, amazing, but”
Reviewed November 21, 2012

but....if you are looking for comfort, nice hotel, forget it. Its the place where ocean and desert have a meeting and they made a paradise, specially if you like windursf and/or kitesurf. Great beach, amanzin warm and crystal water...and flat(offshore wind every afternoon).
cons? getting there take a lot of time and its not that easy. Accomodation is a bucket of water and a hammac.....if thats not a problem for you, its a must.

Visited June 2012
Helpful?
3 Thank MaxiMantovani
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Stockholm, Sweden
Level Contributor
40 reviews
18 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 66 helpful votes
“The feel of remoteness”
Reviewed August 19, 2012

La Guajira is a place to feel isolation and the hardness of travelling. It is fairly easy to get a shared jeep from Uribia to Cabo de la Vela. Go out of the main vacation weeks for Colombians and you will find the place empty and out of crowds.
The isolation feeling starts during the 4 hours jeep trip across the desert. Once there, there is little activities to do other than relaxing on hamacas and walk or get short motor ride to the beaches and sights a few km north.
Cabo is well prepared for tourisms, there is only one street along the sea full of hostels but out of the main holidays you will feel pretty much only the calm and quietness of an extremely remote area.
For more remote feeling, continue by boat to Punta Gallinas.

Visited February 2012
Helpful?
3 Thank Daniel F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
538 reviews
23 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 210 helpful votes
“Unforgettable (and sandy) experience”
Reviewed August 4, 2012 via mobile

A great destination, out of the crowd. A very quiet, small village, built on the sand, with extremely basic services. The sand will penetrate in any corner of your stuff and you will spend the rest of your holidays trying to eliminate it. With no chance.

But this is the price for sleeping on the beach, swinging in hammocks. If you are looking for an alternative and your preference is for the most "sofisticated" hotel, it's better to be prepared to a few wood cabins, without toilets. And a lot of sand everywhere, again.

Electricity is usually available from 6pm to 6am, as well as water. The noise of generators will accompany you all the night long.

But you will not regret to be in this magic place, two hours of trip far from Riohacha (on four-wheel-drive, if you choose to cross the desert. And you should, definitely). Once you are arrived your life will consist only in hours spent on the beach in front of the village or long walks in the desert towards a couple of other wild beaches. Unforgettable experience!

Last note: food is very essential and the best option is to negotiate a deal with local fishermen and ask your "hospetaje" to cook your day's catch. Eventually, you can decide to become yourself a fisherman and spend the rest of your life in this small, hidden paradise.

PS The beach in front of the village is ideal for kite-surfing and you will find a school that can provide you with the equipment.

Helpful?
2 Thank 23_gls
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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