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The nighttime streets are well-patroled by police. Still, you should take common-sense measures at late hours. Locals warn about going to Parque de la Leyenda Vallenata, the University and Balneario Hurtado at “solitary hours”; go when there are plenty of people, such as late afternoons.

The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is closed to independent trekking, due in part to the four indigenous (Arhuaco, Kogui, Kankuama and Wuiwa) nations' wishes; it is sacred land to them. Still some deep recesses of the mountain range is also a “hot zone” with coca cultivation and cocaine processing labs (especially on the Santa Marta side of the range), plus the perseverance of a few guerrilla and paramilitary forces. On this side of the Sierra you can visit Pueblo Bello, Nabusimake, Guatepurí and other indigenous villages. On the Caribbean side, Ciudad Perdida is accessible with guide.

Dengue fever has occasionally been reported in Valledupar.

By Lorraine Caputo

Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...

18 Mar 2011

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