If you want to get away from the city to unwind and do something fun, but can’t travel very far, why not try kayaking at Manglar de los Manatíes? Located by Sabanilla, on the way to Salgar, this ecotourism lodge is a little-known gem that transports you to entirely different surroundings from what you might expect.
A few weekends back we were trying to find an alternative to a day at the beach, being slowly coerced into buying overpriced drinks and coctel de camarón, when a friend offered to take us to a place he knew for kayaking. “It’s great, honestly, like being in Amazonas”, he said. I involuntarily scoffed at this remark as, although I love Barranquilla, my friend’s pride in his hometown can certainly lead to exaggerations.
When we arrived, however, I soon changed my mind. Set in beautiful grounds, it centres around a magnificent white house with a pool and is surrounded by a lagoon leading all the way to a beach. The lagoon is very narrow when you first start, and be sure to mind your head – on several occasions we had to lie flat as our kayaks passed under a series of low tree branches and foot bridges. At one point the girls actually got trapped in an overhanging bush (see photos), which we all eventually got stuck in as we helplessly tried to free them, making the trail last a bit longer than intended. But this is a credit to the pleasantly small number of people using the lagoon and, for the young boy inside of me, it made the activity feel like a real adventure!
Once we’d passed through the worst of the assault course, we came to a beautiful opening – lined with mangrove trees and the sun shining overhead, the area has a silent stillness that really does feel a long way from Vía 40 (which we’d turned off shortly before)! The current gets quite strong as you approach the remote beach at the end, but the water is shallow enough to walk the last part. With the waves crashing against the shore and silhouettes of kitesurfers just visible further down the coast, this completely empty beach was the perfect place to enjoy a bit of respite from paddling.
As we were heading back to the lodge, with the setting sun reflecting off the surface of the lagoon, my friend asked me what I thought of the place. “Like being in Amazonas!”, I replied, without a hint of sarcasm in my voice – content to have visited another of Barranquilla’s hidden jewels on the first productive Sunday I’d had in a long time!
-Kayaking costs 15,000 pesos/hour per kayak (each kayak holds 2 people, the hour is a very generous hora costeña!)
-For a more inclusive package, you can pay 25,000 pesos which includes lunch, use of the pool area, and free kayaking all day.
-They also have rooms to stay overnight, camping, and take bookings for parties. For more information, visit: http://m.manglardelosmanaties.wix.com/manglardelosmanaties.
Note: Readers have suggested you call in advance to make reservations. Contact Ibeth at 3008243897.