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The Road To Guatapurí - Other Activity Valledupar - Colombia

Up until 2008, most roads winding into the Sierra Nevada were off-limits. Now travelers may explore the incredible wonders along them, including the road to Guatapurí.

The paved road heads north from Valledupar. Just past the Guacoches turn-off is Eco-Parque Los Besotes, a 1,000-hectare (2,470-ac) nature reserve in the foothills. The park, located 10 kilometers (6 mi) off the left side of the highway, protects 250 species of birds, seven of which are endemic, and more than 60 types of mammals. Los Besotes has 14 kilometers (8.5 mi) of hiking trails and campsites (Tel: 573-6761 / 314-540-3733, E-mail:

Soon you enter the resguardo (reserve) of the Kankuamo indigenous nation. At Kilometer 23 as the road to Guatapurí branches off to the left. It crosses La Vega, a popular swimming hole on the Badillo River. The next stop is Patillal, a village that has produced many Vallenato composers (30 km / 18 mi from Valledupar). In the plaza next to the white-washed church are giant medallions to each of the masters. The town's patron saint, Virgen de las Mercedes, is feted September 24. A Vallenato festival is held December 25-27.

Nine kilometers (5.5 mi) further is La Mina. The women of this village often gather at la Maye's house to weave together. (To see and purchase their works, drop by her place.) Nearby is the Río Badillo which tumbles through massive granite boulders worn smooth by the river. This is a perfect place to cool off on a hot day. From here on, the road is unpaved. The next Kankuamo town is Atánquez (17 km / 10.5 mi), known for its panela (raw sugar), sweets and mochilas, (woolen shoulder bags).

About six kilometers (3.5 mi) deeper into the Sierra, you come to a crossroads for two traditional Kankuamo villages tucked into a spectacular landscape. To the left is Chemesquemena (walking: 2 hr, uphill). A short distance to the right is Guatapurí. From here, a dirt path rises through forests and countryside, past a sacred well and over a hand-woven bridge, to the Koghi settlement of Maruamake.

Near Valledupar, Valledupar, Colombia

Other Activity Types:
Swimming pool, Village, Wildlife refuge, Natural park, Scenic route, Local art and craft store

Getting There

Pick-up trucks to La Mina / Atánquez depart from Galería Popular (Carrera 7 side) (frequent, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., 0.75 / 1.25 hr, $3.50 to either destination). Continues to Guatapurí (2 hr, $8). Hitchhiking back to Valledupar is easy.

Travel Tips:

The indigenous villages, especially Guatapurí, Chemesquemena and Maruamake, are very traditional. Respect their cultural ways, and don't take photos without the individuals' permission. This is sacred lands to these nations. If going to Maruamake, you will have to overnight it to Guatapurí; contact Provincia Hostel in Valledupar for information on where to stay. The public pick-up leaves from Guatapurí at varying times in the morning. Sand flies can be vicious at La Mina; avoid standing pools of water.

Relative price: Budget

Travel Skills: None

You Need to Bring:

Bring along water and food, swim gear and a camera.

Currencies accepted
Colombian Peso

Here are other activities in and around Near Valledupar that may be of interest: La Mina and Pueblo Bello And Nabusimake.

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