Capurgana, Colombia (2020): A Complete Travel Guide

Capurgana, Colombia (2020): A Complete Travel Guide

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Capurganá: what you must know

Where: Capurgana is on the Western part of the Caribbean coast, in the jungle named the Darien Gap.

Safety: Although the Darien Gap has a bad reputation, it’s totally safe to travel to Capurgana. I stayed there for 1 year in total. There are paramilitaries in the jungle around, but you won’t notice them.

How to get there: There is no road to get to Capurgana, Colombia. You must fly to Acandi and take a 20-min boat ride or take a boat from Necocli or Turbo.

What to do: Life is quite chill in Capurgana. There are different hikes through the jungle to get to waterfalls, natural pools or to walk to Sapzurro and the beach in La Miel. The afternoons are ideal to lay back on the beach or in a comfy hammock.

Where to stay: There are numerous basic hotels, a couple of hostels and 2 lovely hotels surrounded by lush vegetation. My favorite places are:

  • Hostel: Hostal Capurgana | “Modern” hotel with aircon and internet. You can pay by credit card.
  • Hostel outside Capurgana: Kachikine | Located in El Aguacate, a beach at 1h30 walking distance from town
  • Upscale hotel: Finca El Regalo | Hidden gems at a 15-min walk from town. Welcome to paradise.

How long: It’s not straightforward to get there, so you should consider staying at least 4 days when doing your Colombia itinerary.

Best tips: There is no ATM in Capurganá, Colombia. The inhabitants of Medellin love to get there when it’s a 3-day weekend.

Look at the Table of Contents in this post to get more information about Capurganá, Colombia.

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Table of Contents: Capurgna, Colombia

  1. How to get there
  2. Where to stay
  3. Things to do in town
  4. Day trips from Capurgana
  5. Where to eat
  6. Where to go out
  7. How to cross the border Colombia – Panama
  8. Plan your trip Step by Step
  9. Use our premium service

How to get to Capurgana in Colombia

There is no road leading to Capurgana in Colombia. It means you will have to take a boat or a flight if you wish to find out about this remote town.

1. Travel to Capurgana from Medellin and Cartagena

The boat Necocli - Capurgana (+)

The easiest way to get to Capurgana is to take the boat from the city of Necocli.

Departure Boat Necocli – Capurgana: 8 am (7 am on Sunday) | every day | 1h30

Note: There is also a boat leaving from Turbo, another town a bit closer to Medellin. However, the city doesn’t have a good reputation and the boats going to Capurgana aren’t comfortable. Plus, the boat ride lasts 1 hour more.

Note 2: From November to April, the Caribbean Sea is rough. The boat ride will be scary for travelers who are not used to it. Waves will splash your face.

There is a direct bus from Medellin to Necocli.

I advise you to take an early night bus as you want to arrive before the departure of the boat to Capurgana! Usually, it takes 9 hours to reach the city. So try to leave around 8 pm (just in case.

Otherwise, you can play it safe and stay the night in Necocli at the lovely Mariapolis hostel

Read more: The best tips to reach Capurgana from Medellin

If you leave from Cartagena, you must take 2 buses to get to Necocli:

  • Cartagena – Monteria: 5 hours | Bus
  • Monteria – Necocli: 3 hours | Van

As for Medellin, the safest move is to stay the night in Necocli at the Mariapolis hostel before taking the boat to Capurganá.

How to fly to Capurgana (+)

Option 1: A direct flight Capurgana – Medellin

You need to book a charter for yourself if you want a direct flight Capurgana – Medellin

Option 2: To land in Acandi then take a short boat ride

The Airline ADA ceased all activity since March 2019. But, San German Express is another company that took over, and its services are a lot better!

Flight schedules change all the time. Check them on San German

Once in Acandi, speed boats wait for the passengers and bring them to Capurgana in Medellin.

Boat Acandi to Capurgana: 1pm | 30 min | 20 000 COP

Boat Capurgana to Acandi: 7h30 | 30 min | 20 000 COP

View from la Coquarita, Capurgana, Colombia

2. Reaching Capurgana in Colombia from Panama

Arrive in Capurgana with San Blas Adventures (+)

If the San Blas Islands are on your bucket list, you should do it through San Blas Aventures. The idea of the company is to maximize your time on the islands. It’s a 4 Days – 3 Nights tour with 2-3 hours on a speedboat every day. The boat rides are bumpy during the windy season (November to April), but it’s 100% worth it.

And the tour ends in Capurgana in Colombia !!

  • Time: 4 days
  • Prices: low season : 425 $ / High season : 475 $

Arrive in Capurgana by boat from Carti (+)

It’s not the easiest or most comfortable option… Indeed, you will have to spend 6-7 hours on a speedboat from Carti to arrive in Puerto Obaldia (the Panama Border) then you need to find another boat to go to Capurgana. It can be harrowing.

Time: 1 full day minimum (maybe 2). The speedboat Carti to Puerto Obaldia is complicated to organize. You will perhaps have to wait for a few days in Panama City. Ask the hostel Mamallena if you need further information.

Prices (2017):

  • 20$ entrance of the kuna park
  • 200-250$ for the speedboat Carti – Puerto Obaldia
  • 20$ speedboat Puerto Obaldia to Capurgana

Fly to Puerto Obaldia then take a boat to Capurgana (+)

You can fly from the Airport Albrook Panama city to Puerto Obaldia then take a boat to Capurgana, Colombia. It’s a tiny plane, don’t be surprised.

The dock of Capurgana - Credit :Juanillo1970 / Shutterstock
The dock of Capurgana – Credit :Juanillo1970 / Shutterstock

Where To Stay in Capurgana in Colombia

1. What you should know before staying in Capurgana

You should avoid public holidays. It will be crowded. The boat could be overbooked. You can buy your boat ticket in advance at their office.

The boat ride from Nicocli is better and shorter than from Turbo.

During the high season (Public holidays, holy week & between Christmas and New Year), you should book your flight in advance. Same for your accommodation or your San Blas Adventure trip.

Capurgana is a remote place. Power cuts are common and the wifi is weak or non-existent. Don’t hope to get a 5-star service, be indulgent and relax.

2. The Hostels in Capurgana

I love to sleep in hostels when I’m traveling. It’s affordable, fun and you meet many interesting people. 

Watch the video below to have a glimpse of the hostels in Capurgana

A. Hostel la Bohemia | Welcoming & Social

La bohemia - Hostel in Capurgana Colombia

More information (+)

Hostel la Bohemia is one of my favorite hostels in Capurgana. It’s 5 min away from the city center, surrounded by lush vegetation. There is to wifi, so everyone is eating and sharing together. It’s the place to be to meet interesting travelers and enjoy a friendly atmosphere.

B. Hostal Capurgana | “Modern”

More information (+)

Located in the city center, hostel capurgana serves a good breakfast every morning in its patio. There is no kitchen. It’s a perfect stop after a San Blas trip as you will probably look for comfort and wifi. Besides, they accept the payment by credit card – It’s not common in Capurgana

C. La Posada el Gecko | Wood cabins & Courtyard

La posada El Gecko Capurgana Colombia

More information (+)

 Located in the center, la Posada el Gecko is a lovely place made of wood. Moreover, the communal patio is vast and flourish, perfect to enjoy the tasty pizza from their restaurant.

D. Acuali Ecohostal | Peaceful & isolated

Hostel Acuali in the jungle of Capurgana

More information (+)

The hostel is surrounded by lush vegetation. When you arrive, the owner advises you to close your window because of the monkeys and squirrels.

Acuali is outside of Capurgana, on the way to Sapzurro – Don’t forget to take a phone or a lamp if you go out at night. The owners look after the client when booking a boat to Necocli. This hostel in Capurgana will be perfect if you’re looking for quietness.

The breakfast is included and comes directly from the garden. No Wifi

F. Kachikine | Lovely, located in El Aguacate

More information (+)

Kachikine means “In the hammock” in Kuna. The French owners (Quentin and Morgane) have opened this hostel 2 years ago. 2 floors, a small dorm for five people, cute private rooms, a spot to set your hammock, natural toilet, drinkable water. You can use their kitchen. The breakfast is included and is different every morning.

2. The Hotels in Capurgana

A. Finca El Regalo | Peaceful & Quiet

Finca el Regalo, hotel in Capurgana in front of the sea

More information (+)

Finca El Regalo is located 15 min away from Capurgana. It would seem to be inconvenient, but it’s not. Thanks to that, this hotel benefits from a peaceful environment and the sound of the waves breaking on the shore. Besides that, the staff is friendly and welcoming.

Delicious Breakfast included.

Private double bed or bungalow 2 pers from 520 000 COP

B. Los Robles | Huge garden with pool

Los Robles, vast and flourish propriety in Capurgana, just in front the ocean

More information (+)

Los Robles is a secret paradise for couples wishing to enjoy a peaceful stay. The vast and flourish propriety is located in front of the Caribbean sea, 10 min away from Capurgana. Bedrooms are big and well decorated. Moreover, the staff knows how to make you feel at home.

Breakfast is delicious and included. And there is a vegetarian option!

Cool things to do in Capurgana in Colombia

It’s a small town, but there are enough little surprises to keep you happy for a couple of days.

  • Do some snorkeling on the other side of the dock. You can rent a snorkel at the dive shop.
  • Take a nap on the Capurgana beaches
  • Drink a Coco Africa. It’s a fantastic cocktail with whiskey cream in a real coconut. And, you take it directly in front of the Caribbean sea | 10 000 COP
  • Diving in Capurgana. It´s one of the cheapest places on earth! You can choose Dive and Green. They are PADI and the best in town!
  • Walking on the aircraft at 5 pm.

5 day-trips or half day-trips from Capurgana, Colombia

The best way to enjoy Capurgana is by doing an activity during the morning and relax in the afternoon.

1. Do the walk from Capurgna to Sapzurro

Sapzurro is a peaceful village nestled on the border with Panama, at 2km from Capurgna. It’s a perfect place to spend the day or a romantic night. Don’t forget to check out La Miel Beach!

Time: 1h20 min- one way

Halfway, you have to pay a tax of 5 000 – 10 000 COP. If you’re lucky, there will be no one.

2. The waterfall El Cielo in Capurgana

The path that leads to El Cielo pass through lush vegetation and gives you the opportunity to observe the wildlife. It’s an easy trail that you can with flip-flops or runners. There are small rivers to cross.

The waterfall isn’t impressive but it’s still a nice reward after the 1h30 walk #Ilovewaterfall.  You will have to pass an airfield first, then follow the sign. If you have a shadow of a doubt, ask your way!

Discupa, A donde esta el camino para ir a el Cielo ?

Time: 1h30 walk – One way

Price: 4 000 COP

3. Finca El Trebol, a peaceful stop near Capurgna

On your way to the waterfall El Cielo, you can decide to stop at El Trebol. The owner built everything by himself and put a dam to have a kind of natural swimming pool. It’s a peaceful place to enjoy, with a cold beer and patacones while swinging in a hammock

Time: 25 min walk- One way

Price: 2000 COP

4. La Cocarita, Capurgana’s natural pools

La Cocarita is a cool spot with 2 natural pools, just in front of the ocean. Visitors can opt for the seawater one (small fishes come to eat your dead skin!) and the freshwater one (really cold!!) before relaxing in a hammock. They also serve delicious lemonade and patacones.

Time: 30 min walk – One way

Price: 2 000 COP

 E. The Beach El Aguacate

Aguacate is THE perfect place if you’re looking for a quiet place. There is no shop to buy food and only one restaurant where you have to order in advance. Don’t forget to bring your snorkel. There is an excellent diving spot on the right side.

Take the road leading to the hostel La Bohemia then follow the coastline. Or take the boat at the dock

Time: 1h15 min (one way) or 10 min by speedboat. If you have some spare time, you should definitively spend one-night there.

Kids playing baseball Capurgana field - chrisontour84
Kids playing baseball Capurgana field – Credit: chrisontour84 / Shutterstock

Where to eat in Capurgana

There are many basic restaurants in Capurgana. They serve a menu of the day with rice, beans, plantains, and chicken for 10 000 COP.

However, we discovered other tasty options!

Where to eat in Capurgan for less than 15 000 pesos (+)

Burger something…

It´s a burger place where you can also find Veggie burgers !!! Located on the corner of the football field, just in front of the bakery

Arepa Place

It’s not easy to find this restaurant if you are not local. Most of the travelers pass without notice it. It’s my favorite restaurant in Capurgana for breakfast. You can eat delicious arepas filled veggies, eggs, and cheese for 7000 COP. And if you’re a meat-eater, they serve a chicken option for 10 000 COP.

The restaurant is on another corner of the football field. For lunch, the arepas are bigger and cost a bit more

Where to eat in Capurgan for 20 000 pesos and more (+)

Hernand Patacones

My favorite seafood restaurant in Capurgana. For 18 000 COP, they give you a bowl of soup, coconut rice, plantains with a well-cooked fish. Besides, you can ask them to grill it instead of fry it. It’s also an excellent place to eat their rice with shrimps

Hernand patacones is located after the immigration office.

The Dock

The Dock is only open when a San Blas tour arrives. However, it’s one of the best places to have an omelet for breakfast or a panini!!! It’s around 10 – 12 000 COP. It’s just in front of the Capurgana’s dock.

La Posada El Gecko

Good restaurant with a flourish patio to enjoy a real Italian pizza (around 30 000 COP) or pasta (about 18 000 COP).

Josephine

Located on the beach, Josephine is known as the best seafood restaurant in town – I prefer Hernand Patacones. Their menu is more expensive than other restaurants in Capurgana and you should book your dinner in advance because they can be very slow to prepare your meals. All kinds of seafood like Lobster, shrimp, muscles, fishes... Enjoy!

Where to go out in Capurgana

You won’t get a wild nightlife in Capurgana. However, there are still some fun events on weekends and when a San Blas Group arrives.

Salsa reggae bar, hot and fun (+)

San Blas group goes out in this “club” the day of their arrival – Usually around 10h30. They play Latin music but don’t hope for good music transition. A beer costs 4000 COP, and there is no cover.

La Brujita, a nightclub above the water (+)

Located directly on the beach, La Brujita is THE nightclub in Capurgana. It opens on weekends only. And even though, it can still be empty. It’s a hit or miss. Free cover and a bottle of rum cost 50 000 COP.

BONUS: How to cross the Colombia – Panama Border

Border instructions when leaving Capurgana for Panama (+)

Don’t worry; it’s quite simple. There is only one thing to do…

You need to stamp out before you leave! There is no Colombian border. No one will check your bag on the Colombian side.

So before taking your boat in the direction of Puerto Obaldia (Panama border), go to the Colombian immigration to get your passport stamped. Then, you have a 24h maximum to reach Panama. Before that, you are in no man’s land. It also means that you can stamp out the day before if your boat is early.

Once in Puerto Obaldia, don’t forget to Stamp in.

Border instructions when arriving in Capurgana from Panama (+)

If you are coming from Panama, you have to follow the same instructions, but in reverse order. Stamp out in Puerto Obaldia and don’t forget to Stamp in once you arrive in Capurgana.

Note: In Panama, you HAVE TO stop at Lost and found hostel. Accommodations are in the middle of nature, you can say hi to Rocky – The cutest animal ever – and have fun with 2 treasure hunts. Eat with everyone for dinner then play with a life-size Jenga, the Best way to gamble beers.

On the way back to Capurgana

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7 comments

  1. Carlos Castano says:

    I am quite impress how accurate your info is about capurgana……I have been there a few times and I am planning to take my kids to enjoy this ride…..so yes…..it is a great book to read.
    Congratulations.
    Happy reading to you all.

  2. Silvio says:

    Hi Tom

    Maybe you can remember me. I am Silvio (Swiss) from the Hostal Capurgana in Capurgana.
    Thanks a lot for mentioning us in your Blog.
    Your Blog is full of details. Super. I will certainly will mention your Blog to our clients from over the world.
    Please let update a bit the information about our Hostal. OK?
    I am Swiss and I do speak Englisch and Swiss-German. My wife is from Cali and speaks as well very good Englisch.

    This helps a lot to travelers who are not so familiar with spanisch.

    We do have the travel agency Capurganatours. Here you can by all bus-boats-air tickets for your onwards travel.

    As well are we the official agency for Panama Air und ADA. With Panama air you can fly from Porto Obaldia to Panama City in about 1 hour.
    From Acandi you can fly in 45 Minutes to Medellin.
    This helps a lot if you are under time pressure.

    All services you can pay with Pesos, Dollars or with Creditcards.

    We are here to help you. Even when you don’t stay in our Hostal.

    Capurgana still does not have 24 hour energy. In the morning the power gets switch of at 02:00 Mo to Fr. Weekend around 03:00.

    So check out if your Hostal has a generator. Maybe you pay less if they don’t provide.

    We still have no ATM in town. We change or accept USD and all major credit cards.
    We also have a restaurant integrated in our Hostal. So you can have accommodation, drinks , food, and Air-Bus-Boatstikets all payed with credit cards.

    I think this is a super service. And of corse. WIFI is included in accommodation.
    Muchas gracias.
    Thanks a lot
    Vielen Dank

      • Silvio says:

        I am a bit surprised. You have one of the best blogs with so many details…and since over 1 year no new comments.
        Ok. Here the first for 2019.
        In Capurgana:

        – still not 24 hours power
        – still no ATM,s

        But a bit more traffic the before. The nice horces who have been caring everything are going to desapear. Mototaxis are now all over……

        Any help needed ?
        Ask by Capurgana Tours & Hostal Capurgana

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