Cabo De La Vela and Punta Gallinas are two places that appear regularly on traveler’s itineraries. Why is it so popular? Should you add it to your Colombia itinerary?
I’ve been 3 times in the La Guajira desert, and you will find in this post all you need to know to visit Cabo de la Vela and Punta Gallinas.
Cabo de la Vela and Punta Gallinas: What you must know
Cabo de la Vela: It’s a small fisher town only accessible by jeep. Many kitesurf schools.
Points of interest: The landscapes are quite astonishing and the atmosphere is mesmerizing.
What I don’t like: You stay many hours in a jeep and you don’t exchange much with locals.
Can you do it on your own: You can arrive in Cabo de la Vela by yourself, then you must take a tour to go to Punta Gallinas.
Private tours: More information here.
How many days: It’s a 3-day tour if you want to visit Punta Gallinas.
Safety: The tour is 100% safe, but don’t wander on your own near the border with Venezuela. Learn more safety tips.
Weather: From September to November, the dirt road becomes a mud road because of the rain. Avoid going there during this period. More weather tips here.
Where to stay: In Cabo de la Vela and Punta Gallinas, you will sleep in hammocks most of the time. You won’t find them on the internet.
Our best Guajira tips: Plan an expedition from Dibulla, and try to include PNN Macuira in your tour.
More information: Read our top-notch Guajira travel guide.
Take a look at our table of contents to get more in-depth information about the aforementioned topics.
Where to travel after La Guajira
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Table Of Contents: Travel To Punta Gallinas and Cabo de la Vela
- The Wayúus and their culture
- Packing list
- How to get to Cabo de la Vela
- Things to do in Cabo de la Vela
- Which tours to book to Punta Gallinas
- Things to do in Punta Gallinas
- Example of Itinerary in la Guajira
1. Punta Gallinas is a harsh environment (+)
As you know, it’s not easy to live in the desert. It’s a harsh and hot environment, water is a scarce resource, and it’s hard to cultivate lands.
However, the indigenous who are living there in La Guajira fought for more than 400 years everyone who tried to expulse them from their home.
The Wayuu, as they call themselves, are fierce warriors, proud of their culture and tradition. They represent 20% of Colombia’s total Amerindian population. They are usually living in Rancherias – Clustering of 5 – 6 cabanas – and they keep their distance from each other – to avoid mixing goats.
2. A perfect souvenir from Cabo de la Vela (+)
Like most of the indigenous, they convey their cultural heritage through fantastic stories – A Man’s job – and superb handcraft creation – A woman’s job.
Wayuus are famous for the weaving of colorful bags, also named Wayuu’s Mochila – Ah, by the way, do you know how to say Backpacker in Spanish? …. Mochilero!. These bags are not made randomly. Each pattern and color have a signification. The Wayuu lady has to master them all after she got her first period – She will stay in her house few months, only surrounded by other women, to learn everything about their knowledge and how to be a perfect Wayuu wife – Yep, it’s quite strict.
These bags represent the primary incomes of the families – Even if tourism is taking a significant part progressively. Would you like to learn more about these bags?
Because of their culture and situation, they’re living at the margins of society. It results in a high uneducated percentage of the population and alcohol problems. And thanks to big companies who are collecting important quantities of coal, they have fewer lands to cultivate near the river – I’m so proud of you big guys! It’s ironic. I hate them.
Here is an interesting video explaining their situation: https://www.facebook.com/laguajirahabla/videos/1869093820018384
To resume, if you want to help them, be smiling, respect their culture, don’t work with kids and buy a Wayuu bag or a hammock 🙂
There is a Wayuu culture festival every year in Uribia – It’s La Guajira Colombia’s capital. Usually from 31/05 to 02/06
Stuff to buy before arriving in Cabo de la Vela (+)
- Buy a 3-5 gallon of water. You will save money, and it’s more ecological than little bottles. If you want to earn some good Karma point, you should buy one for the kids too 😉
- A hat
- Extra batteries or power bank if you want to take pictures and play Candy crush at night
- A thin blanket – Towels are fine too. You will probably sleep in a hammock. It’s nice to have something to put on you when it’s windy
- Vegetable if you’re vegetarian. But you won’t be able to cook
- Cash – There is no ATM in Cabo de la Vela or Punta Gallinas!
Uribia will be your last chance to get these tasks done
1. How to get to Cabo de la Vela, La Guajira
From Santa Marta to Cabo de la Vela (+)
Let’s start with the farthest, Santa Marta.
- If you’re arriving in Santa Marta, you can take another bus directly in the direction of Riohacha. It’s also possible to take it at La Bomba. It’s a Gas station outside the city. Around 3 hours / 21 000 COP
- In Riohacha, you need to take a shared taxi to get to 4 Vias – It’s a simple crossroad. 1 hour / 5 000 COP
- In 4 vias, if you are lucky and not alone, you can take a 4×4 going directly to Cabo de la Vela. Around 2 hours – 30 000 COP.
- If you have no friends, you have to take another shared taxi to get to Uribia. 1 hour / 5 000 COP
- From Uribia, they are 4×4 or trucks going to Cabo de la Vela. You will be buried under a mountain of chips. 2-3 hours / 15 – 20 000 COP
Update 2019: ChipViajero found a new way to reach Cabo de la Vela from Rioacha. You can try to contact the hostel Hostel Liwa Kashi as they organize daily departures to Cabo de la Vela. The cost seems to be reasonable – 60 000 COP. The WhatsApp is the following: 310 620 9832
From Palomino to Cabo de la Vela (+)
You have to wait for a bus on the side of the main road. You will stop in:
- 4 Vias – 2 hours / 15 000 COP
- or Riohacha – 1 hour / 8 000 COP
Then you have to follow the instruction above.
In my opinion, Palomino is a perfect spot to start an expedition to Cabo de la Vela / Punta Gallinas. You can let your backpack at the hostel and only travel for a few days with your day bag. You’re going to a desert. You don’t need a thousand things – mainly water, swimming short and money.
Furthermore, you gonna be happy to not carry your backpack everywhere in La Guajira Colombia as you have to take shared taxis, jeeps, and speedboat. Life is better when you’re traveling light. You can also laugh about the other travelers and their giant bags.
Do you know: Germans have a particular word for this situation. It’s “Schadenfreude.” I love it! Does it mean I’m a bad person? :0
From Riohacha to Cabo de la Vela (+)
You can arrive from Santa Marta / Palomino by bus, or you can fly to Riohacha! The airline company is Avianca.
Warning: There are only a few flights. And the prices can quadruple if you’re booking them at the last minute – if you’re lucky to get one. Especially during the high season. The best way to check the availability is to use the function Calendar of Google flight. Here, you will get more information about booking a flight in Colombia.
Price and time: Around 200 000 COP / 1h45
Then, you follow the advice above to get to Cabo de la Vela.
Moto rental in La Guajira (+)
I’ve heard it’s also possible to rent motorbikes and travel by yourself in La Guajira Colombia. I don’t have any information about it, but I would be glad to edit my detailed guide if you’re writing your experience in the comment section!
There are plenty of places where you can sleep. Many locals are renting hammocks on the beach. To get a room is possible too.
Keep in mind that you are in the desert. Don’t imagine yourself having a bath, a jacuzzi or a shower. It will be more like that:
Prices and tips (+)
- Hammock: 10 000 COP
- Bed or Ranchero (Large hammock): 15 000 COP
Your best shot to get a private room is to go to the Caracol hotel.
It will be cheaper at the entrance of Cabo de la Vela.
There is no hostel in Cabo de la Vela. If you’re looking for a more social place, you should have a look at kitesurf’s schools. There are a bar and available hammocks. Look for Eoletto Kitesurf.
- Chinchorro: 20 000 COP
- Private room: 60 000 COP
Beach Pilon de Azucar in Cabo de la Vela (+)
There is a beautiful beach a little up north. You can take a moto-taxi to get there. Take one moto-taxi per person, even if they say they can fit two people. Enjoy the view, it’s fantastic.
The sea will be calmer in the morning. The moto-taxi will wait for you.
Price and time: Moto taxi: 5000 COP (one way) – 15 min
Sunset from the lighthouse in Cabo (+)
It’s a lighthouse located outside Cabo de la Vela. You can stop there when coming back from your beach session in Pilon de Azucar. Be there at sunset. You won’t regret it 😉
Price and time: Moto taxi: 5000 COP (one way) – 10 min
Kitesurf in Cabo de la Vela (+)
Cabo de la Vela is a paradise for kitesurfers and windsurfers. It’s always windy, and the sea is as flat as a lake.
There are a few kitesurfing schools in Cabo de la Vela. You can take classes – Package of hours – and you can get the accommodation for free. Eoletto kitesurf has a good reputation in Cabo de la Vela.
The average price for a 1-hour kitesurfing class: 100 000 COP
It’s also possible to rent the equipment: Around 80 000 COP/ 1 hour.
Exploring Punta Gallinas (+)
It’s a two days trip in La Guajira Colombia desert to the northernmost point of South America. I will explain it more in detail later in this article.
If your plan was only to get to Cabo de la Vela – Without going to Punta Gallinas -, you have to go back to the civilization by yourself. No worry, it’s not complicated.
Many jeeps bring workers every day to Uribia. You need to wake up around 5 am and take one of them. You can ask your host to help you, or you can wait on the roadside.
Prices and tips (+)
Prices and time: 1h30 / around 15 000 COP.
Then from Uribia
Prices and time:
You can find and bargain a car going directly to your hostel in Palomino: Around 160 000 COP (In total) / 2 hours
You can take a taxi to go outside of Uribia. The buses are not coming to town.
- Bus Uribia to 4 vias (It’s a crossroad): 6000 COP / 1 hour
- Bus 4 vias to Palomino: 12 000 COP / 2 hours
There is also a town named Riohacha between 4 Vias and Palomino. Sometimes you have to stop/change buses there.
However, I think that it would be a pity to miss the opportunity to get to Punta Gallinas. Let me explain to you why.
As I said earlier, Punta Gallinas is the northernmost point of South America. There is nothing around except the silence of the desert and the noise of the waves. You don’t go there for the landscapes – Even if there are fantastic. No, you go there for the experience because it’s far from everything and very few people have let their ephemeral footprints in the dunes.
The hostel in Punta Gallinas is basic, and you will sleep in a hammock belong to a few other backpackers. But you won’t care because sunrise, sunset, and stars will be yours only.
1. Which Punta Gallinas’ tours can you book to explore La Guajira
If you check on the internet, I’m sure you have found tens of results. I can’t evaluate each company as I don’t even know them.
But I can give you some information to help you to make a choice.
Book a Punta Gallinas tour from Santa Marta (+)
- Most of the Punta Gallinas tours last 3 days / 2 nights
- You stay 1 night in Cabo de la Vela and 1 night in Punta Gallinas
- You stop on the way to admire Uribia and the salt collection in Manaure
- You spend many hours in the car
- It costs around 200$ all included
However, there is a tour in Alta Guajira that I would love trying. It allows you to admire the national natural park La Makuira – an oasis made of lush vegetation and waterfalls -, nestled in the middle of the La Guajira desert. The contrast of colors with the white-sand dunes is breathtaking.
Book a Punta Gallinas tour from Riohacha (+)
- Most of the Punta Gallinas tours last 3 days / 2 nights
- You stay 2 nights in Punta Gallinas, or 1 night in Cabo de la Vela and 1 night in Punta Gallinas.
- It costs around 200$ all included
You can also ask around in order to meet a local with a private jeep. They will offer you to be your driver for 2 days. But, the price would be expensive if you’re alone. In a group, you can pay as little as 150 000 COP each – only for the 3 days transport.
Book a Punta Gallinas tour from Cabo de la Vela (+)
You don’t need to book it in advance. You don’t even have to look for it. A local will come to you within an hour.
It’s usually possible to leave the next morning – Departure at 5 am.
Even if you’re alone, they will put you in a jeep with other travelers. It’s around 8 people for each jeep. But if you’re in a group, you can bargain more.
The tour will end in Uribia the next day.
The Punta Gallinas tours from Cabo de la vela only include the price of the transport for the 2 days. But, no worries, a hammock will be available for you in Punta Gallinas.
You can ask the driver if it’s possible to stay one more night in Punta Gallinas. You have to notify him before starting the tour. Thus, he can organize a jeep with a place available for your return from Punta Gallinas.
Last time, we were 4, and we paid 120 000 COP each for the transport.
All tours from Cabo de la Vela travel to the same rancheria. There is always a hammock or a Chinchorro for their passengers ;). Besides, there is a shop to buy water, beers, chips and order breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
List of the price in Punta Gallinas - 2018 (+)
- Hammock: 15 000 COP
- Chinchorro: 25 000 COP
- Lunch and Dinner: 15 000 COP
- Lobster: 30 000 COP
- Breakfast: 7 000 COP
- Baby beer: 3 000 COP
All the Punta Gallinas tours leaving from Cabo de la Vela are doing the same itinerary
Day 1 Punta Gallinas tour from Cabo de la Vela (+)
5 am – Departure from Cabo de la Vela
8h30 am – Arrival at Punta Gallinas – Breakfast
9h30 am – Exploration of Punta Gallinas – Don’t forget your water and sunscreen
- Stop at the mirador to observe the fantastic Bahia Hondita / Honda
- Stop at the lighthouse – The northernmost point of La Guajira Colombia and South America
- Swimming session at Taroa dunes
2h00 pm – You get back to the Rancheria
5h00 pm– A walk to another beach to observe the sunset
Day 2 Punta Gallinas tour from Cabo de la Vela (+)
- 8h30 am – Departure to Uribia by jeep
- 11h00 am – Arrival at Uribia
You can decide to enjoy another night in Punta Gallinas, but you have to notify it to the driver at the beginning of the tour. The jeeps don’t stay with us for 2 days. They drive back to Cabo de la Vela every day.
The jeep will bring you to Uribia. From there, you just have to follow the indications explained before. Here.
Here are my recommendations if you want to enjoy Cabo de la Vela and Punta Gallinas on your own.
Keep in mind that you need 3 days minimum to visit Punta Gallinas from Palomino.
Detailed Itinerary 4-day from Palomino to Punta Gallinas (+)
—————————— Day 1————————–
- Early morning (Around 10 am) – Departure from Palomino to Cabo de la Vela
- Around 4 pm – Arrival at Cabo de la Vela
- Looking for accommodation in Cabo de la Vela, beers, sunset, and kitesurfing
—————————— Day 2 ————————–
- Morning – Beach at Pilon de Azucar
- Afternoon – Book a tour to Punta Gallinas the next day
- End of the Afternoon – Sunset at El Faro (Lighthouse)
———————— Day 3 & Day 4————————-
- Punta Gallinas Tour – Check out the previous section
- Around 2-3h pm: Arrival at Palomino
Travel stress-free: Chill out while we plan your trip to Colombia
Every budget is different according to the travelers’ needs. If you’re traveling on a shoestring budget, a tour to Punta Gallinas can be a little expensive for you. Especially if you’re booking a tour from Santa Marta.
Low Budget to visit Cabo de la Vela:
The backpacking budget for Cabo de la Vela (+)
- Palomino to Cabo de la Vela: 45 000 COP
- Moto taxi (Lighthouse and Pilon de Azucar) : 5000 * 4= 20 000 COP
- 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches and 2 Dinners: 10 000* 2 + 15 000 * 4= 80 000 COP
- Juices, beers, and water: 30 000 COP
- 2 nights Hammock: 10 000 * 2 = 20 000 COP
- Total: 195 000 COP
Low budget to visit Punta Gallinas
The backpacking budget for Punta Gallinas (+)
- 2 Days tours Punta Gallinas – Transport: 120 000 COP
- 1 night in a Chinchorro: 25 000 COP
- 2 breakfasts, 1 lunch, and 1 dinner: 45 000 COP
- Beers and water: 20 000 COP
- The way back from Uribia to Palomino: 20 000 COP
- Total: 230 000 COP
Total: 425 000 COP / 3 days & 3 Nights
Don’t forget there is no ATM in Cabo de la Vela or Punta Gallinas.
Read the answers to your questions (+)
Is there any tienda where to buy fruits vegetables and other stuff?
There are small shops where you can easily buy water and chips. However, it will be harder to find vegetables. You should buy them in Uribia.
Is it possible to go in one day from Punta Gallinas all the way to Cartagena?
No, it’s impossible. The best option would be to stop 1 night in Palomino and 1 night in Cabo de la Vela.
It’s also possible to find hostels in Riohacha.
Is it possible to get my flight from Riohacha the day we leave Punta Gallinas?
Yes, you should catch it easily if it’s scheduled for after 7 pm.
Can I find a hostel in Cabo de la Vela with a shared kitchen?
I don’t think so.
How do we organize the return from Punta Gallinas by car if we stay for more than one night?
You have to ask the jeep’s driver if it’s possible at the beginning of the tour. Most of the time it is doable as he is coming back every day with new travelers.
There are all kinds of landscapes in Colombia. The country is famous for its Caribbean beaches, its huge mountains, the lush vegetation in the Amazon rainforest, etc… But only a few people know there is a fantastic desert nestled on the Caribbean Coast of Colombia
By going to Cabo de la Vela and Punta Gallinas, you will travel to a different part of Colombia. A place where the environment is harsh and can’t be mastered. The Wayuu have adapted their culture and way of life to survive on these lands for hundreds of years. It’s not easy every day, but they deal with it and keep a warm smile on their face.
If you’re looking for a resort and chilling at the beach, you could be disappointed. But if you want to live a different experience and be lost in the silence of the desert, I’m sure you will appreciate it.
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