Colombia, South America

Serendipity and La Guajira Peninsula

La Guajira Peninsula has always been a top destination on our list. Why? Well, mostly because it is beautifuly unspoiled, there is no tarmac, the peninsula is mostly a no man’s land that has not been developed, “off the beaten path” you could say. I guess that is not 100% true, because after all there are 2 fairly popular tourist destinations there; Cabo de la Vela and Punta Gallina… not to mention a very large coal mining operation, but “off the beaten path for the most” part is good enough for us 🙂
Before our arrival in Colombia we had decided not to visit La Guajira because “reliable” sources had informed us of how dangerous an area it truly is. Wily Wayuu natives (descendants of the Arawac, the only tribe that was never conquered by the Spanish) and smugglers of all sorts populate the area and can’t wait to take everything away from you, sometimes even your (gulp) life. All this fear vanished with our serendipitous meeting of a certain Don Hernando Gutierrez De Piñeres, from Barranquilla.

Big word, serendipity, but our meeting with Hernando truly was. As we drove out of Cartagena towards Santa Marta we pulled off to the side of the road to take some pics and some guy driving a LandCruiser pulled over next to us and proceeded to introduce himself. Hernando a fellow 4×4 enthusiast, a fellow member of and admirer of the magazine Overland Journal! Not only did we have those things in common we also had friends in common back in the ole US of A. Small world indeed!

After some small talk Hernando invited us to stop by Iguana 4×4 his shop in Barranquilla and he also offered to accompany us on a trip to La Guajira! Needless to say we were ecstatic and we agreed to meet him. Hernando later explained that though a lot of the stories about La Guajira are true (smugglers abound, and apparently the Wayuu do have a bit of a bad rep) it is OK if you know where you are going and specially if you caravan. Feeling better about safety we planned, packed and a few days later we sailed forth on our big land yachts; Hernando and his lovely girlfriend Sophie in the Nissan Patrol and us in the trusty LandCruiser. The drive was amazing. Beautiful country (except for a few areas of Barranquilla and RioHacha).

This is our camping spot the first night, on our way to Cabo de la Vela, less than an hour east of Santa Marta
And this is our view from camp... that is the beach down there :)
We stopped in RioHacha for their "world famous" cebiche, and it was truly delicious. While there we met some great people... locals and an American couple.
The beginning of the seemingly endless dirt road or "destapado" this is by far the smoothest part of the road

Our original idea was a drive to Punta Gallina, but once again the extended rainy season foiled our plans. The “trocha” or off road trail was so bad that We had to “settle” for a wonderful time in Cabo de la Vela. Cabo de la Vela is a truly beautiful destination in itself and due to the bad roads we had it almost completely to ourselves!

We would really like to thank Hernando, Sophie and Hernando’s family for their friendship and hospitality we will forever cherish our time with them. Not to mention the help that Hernando’s shop Iguana 4×4 and Capi the shop chief wrencher did for the LandCruiser… muchisimas gracias.

Please enjoy the barrage of images:


  1. ian, susan & girls

    Just got your comment on the blog. Yes we’re home :-(. Both Susan and I wanted to keep going but it was unfair to the girls.

    I Just looked through your photos and it makes me want to get the atlas out. I see you hooked up with other overlanders. Safe journey.

    1. Luis Author

      Sadly we haven’t run into as many other overlanders as we would like, but there are still two years to go!!!

      It was great meeting you guys, I can hardly believe it was almost a year ago!!!! I hope the girls enjoyed the rest of the trip 🙂

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