TRAVEL: A trek up into the mountains of the Sierra Nevada

Indigenous houses in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Photo Credit:

Life in Barranquilla is cool but if you crave adventure, you’ll need to go somewhere else. Luckily there are many places nearby to stimulate your need for new experiences and excitement – and for me, one of them turned out to be more than I could ask for.

The oldest city in Colombia, Santa Marta (founded in 1525), is only two hours by bus from Barranquilla and costs just 20,000 pesos. It’s located right next to Sierra Nevada, where thousands of tourists go to visit Minca and to see the famous Lost City every year. Indeed, Sierra Nevada offers a fresh cool breeze and breathtaking landscapes, which my spouse and I discovered totally by accident a few weeks ago. 

We had decided to forgo the bus and take our motorcycle instead and somewhere along the way, my life partner, Manuel, decided to pull over for a rest stop at the road sign up to the ”Lost City”. We weren’t really interested in taking the tour, but after a chat with a local, it was recommended that we continue our trek up into the mountains for some first hand information. We were promised that there was a place called ”El Mirador” where we could find hammocks to spend the night. Confused about why he was talking about a place to sleep at only 4 pm, the idea made perfect sense just two hours later when we found ourselves in the middle of nowhere on a tiny hiking road, without water or electricity. It was a long way there, and people we asked on the road just kept saying ”keep going.. up up up”.

So, that’s exactly what we did. It was a never-ending uphill climb, with loose sand and damaged roads. The motorcycle could hardly make it up the steep incline, and I had to run behind every time for Manuel to get it up. When the sun went down, and it got pitch dark, the only thing we could see were fireflies in the sky, along with thousands of stars.

We both knew we would be in trouble if we didn’t find this ”El Mirador” soon, and at that point we doubted it even existed. To avoid increasing our silent worries, we kept it to ourselves. At 7 pm, it was as dark as it could get..  We finally reached a place with a tiny building some people might call a house. There we were both relieved and thrilled to meet another human, a man named Juan who lived in the house alone. It turned out that Juan used to work for the narcos, growing coca leaves in the mountains. Now he’s living a more honest trade, selling freshly squeezed orange juice and water to hiking tourists. He invited us to climb up to the top of the hill, the official ”El Mirador”.

After having watched the perfect sky of stars, we got tired and went to ”bed”, arranging one hammock each in Juan´s primitive house. Thrilled about the sunrise, and how the landscape around us would turn out to look once we could see it, we woke up at 5 am.

That moment was one of those you just know you’ll tell your children about some day. The beauty of the Colombian mountains had no limit! Juan and Manuel lit up a fire in Juan’s “kitchen” made of clay, and he cooked us hot chocolate, very welcome after the chilly night.

After a hot day with Juan, learning more about his life in the mountain, we headed back down the path again, and took a very convenient swim in a lake we crossed. We’ve never enjoyed it more!

Take your time in Barranquilla to explore what Colombia has to offer! Barranquilla is the perfect location on the coast for travel during short holidays and weekends. Meet new people, discover new lifestyles and try new things! If you already haven’t, you will soon learn that’s what life’s about.