This large seaside resort is the starting point for a 4×4 trip to La Guajira, a region populated by the Wayuu (or Guajiros), an Amerindian people living mainly from weaving (clothes, hammocks …) and fishing.
Not far from there is the sanctuary of Los Flamencos, an ideal place to observe the pink flamingos, on an area of 7,000 hectares.
It’s a quiet place, perfect for hiking, fishing with the locals, or doing nothing else but enjoying the sun and relaxing on the beach.
In addition to the sanctuary, you can visit the rancherias (traditional inns), the Sea Turtle Environmental Research and Education Centre, and go to the Navio Quebrado, Grande or Laguneta de Chentico lakes to observe birds…
Cabo de la Vela
For a glimpse of the La Guajira region, head to Manaure: in this setting of cacti and white mountains is the largest salt marsh in Colombia.
Then stop in Uribia: the indigenous capital of the country, this small trading town is a reflection of the Wayuu culture.
Finally, cross the magical Carrizal Desert.
You will then arrive in Cabo de la Vela (literally “Candle Cape”) is a small lively seaside village, a real paradise for kitesurfers and windsurfers.
Just 10 minutes away, there is a sublime orange sand beach, bordered by a rocky promontory (Pilon de Azucar) from where you can watch a magical sunset.
For a complete immersion in the Wayuu culture, cross the La Guajira desert to Punta Gallinas (75 km north of Cabo de la Vela, about 4 hours of tracks).
Along the way, you will discover isolated beaches, dunes and rocky cliffs (Hondita Bay, Pusheo desert beach…) and even do part of the trip by boat.
At Punta Gallinas, you stay in a local house, in a wayuu rancheria where you can taste the local specialties based on fish and seafood; you discover the local life.
You will go to Taroa, for a walk on immense white sand dunes which, swept by the wind, give the sea a yellowish colour.
You can bathe there and then watch the sunset giving the dunes an intense orange colour.
This region is the northernmost point of the South American continent.
Characteristics of Riohacha
Located on the Caribbean coast, the Colombian city of Riohacha is the capital of the department of La Guajira.
A fertile pearl region long coveted and attacked by pirates, Riohacha is nowadays an excellent starting point for exploring the surrounding areas.
With a vast white sandy beach and beautiful buildings that bear witness to the Spanish colonial era, Riohacha attracts many visitors every year.
Number of Inhabitants
Riohacha has just over 167,800 inhabitants (2005 estimate).
The territory was populated by Indian ethnic groups before its discovery by Christopher Columbus.
The conquistador Alonso de Ojeda reached the current location of Ríohacha in 1498, and the city of Ríohacha was built by Juan de la Cosa in 1535.
The Spanish royalty grants the status of autonomous city to Ríohacha in 1547.
It was attacked by the English freebooter Francis Drake in search of pearls and gold in 1596, and on May 2, 1769, in the midst of a revolt, the Waryyu attacked it.
Ríohacha carried out commercial transactions with Holland, the West Indies, England, New York and Panama during the 19th century.
On July 1, 1965, the Guajira Department was created and Ríohacha was designated as its capital.
At present Ríohacha is a cornerstone city in the growth of ecotourism and national cultural tourism.
The city of Riohacha is located in the northern part of Colombia, in the centre of the Guajira department.
It has a port and an area of 3120 km².
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How to get around Riohacha ?
The city of Riohacha has Buses or Taxis as its main means of transportation.
Taxis are the ideal means of transport for getting around the city and tourist areas quickly.
Count a minimum of 3,000 COP for a ride in the city centre.
Buses: There are two networks, the Transmilenio and the secondary network, which includes busetas, colectivos or ejecutivos (denomination attributed differently according to the size of the vehicles).
The Transmilenio makes it easier for visitors to get around.
What to see in Riohacha ?
The city of Riohacha has some tourist sites to discover.
Visitors will mainly go to the Riohacha Cathedral (Nuestra Senora de los Remedios), the Paseo de la Marina, the bronze statue of Francisco Rodríguez known as El Hombre (the father of vallenato music) and the large Municipal Market.
Government site of the city of Riohacha (in Spanish)
What to do in Riohacha ?
Relax on the beaches that line the city and enjoy their glowing sunsets.
Stroll along the Paseo de la Marina.
Visit the traditional Wayuu handicraft market.
Taste local specialties in one of the many restaurants along the seafront.
Have fun in the bars and discos in the pedestrian street of Calleron de las Brisas.
Mochilas, bufandas, ruana (Colombian pancho), Indian pottery, leather goods, beautiful blankets, gold jewelry.
Gastronomy and local recipe(s)
The dishes: the “cuy” (roasted guinea pig); mote (corn cooked with spices); poleada soup; locro (stew made with beans, corn and squash)
Desserts: quimbolitos (typical biscuits); dulce de Chilacuan; paila ice cream; almendras de leche (made with milk and cinnamon); alfajores.
Beverages: champus (made with panela honey, corn and fruit); hervidos (hot drink made with fruit juice and liquor); canelazo (cinnamon hervido).
What to see in Riohacha ?
Around the city of Riohacha, there are various sights to see.
Maicao, a city in the central eastern part of the department nicknamed the “commercial showcase of Colombia”; Cabo de la Vela, its fishing village and magnificent Pilon de Azucar beach; the Manaure saltworks; the Jepirach ecological park; Punta Gallinas, the northernmost point of South America.
It is preferable for those who wish to travel to Colombia to seek advice from their doctor and to subscribe to a medical evacuation insurance.
The local authorities do not require any prior vaccination, however, it is recommended that you are protected against typhoid fever, rabies, hepatitis A and B, diphtheria-tetanus-polio, and yellow fever.
Only clinics in Colombia’s major cities are sufficiently equipped medically to deal adequately with all conditions.
In principle, medical treatment is payable in advance before the patient is treated.
The regional hospital Nuestra Señora de los Remedios and four other facilities are available in Ríohacha.
The Paris timetable is 7 hours ahead of the Ríohacha timetable throughout the year.
I hope that you enjoyed my guide to Guajira
Now I’d like to hear what you have to say:
Do you have any questions about the Guajira ?
Or maybe I didn’t mention one of your favorite tips about this destination ?
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