Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, La Guajira and the Tayrona Park
In the north of Colombia, in the departments of Magdalena, La Guajira and Cesar, lies the majestic mountain range of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and its snow-capped peaks. It is the highest coastal mountain in the world. Only 22 km separate the slopes from the Caribbean Sea. Its highest peak is the Colón peak, which rises up to 5775 meters. The Sierra is home to the Teyuna Archaeological Park (the Lost City), birthplace of the Tayrona Indians, the largest indigenous civilization in the country. About thirty thousand natives are Tayrona descendants, belonging to the Kogi, Arhuaco, Kankuamo and Wiwa ethnic groups and the "older brothers" still live there. UNESCO declared the Sierra Nevada a Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site in 1979. Many works like recovery, research and conservation take place in the Park. The major tourist activity is hiking along cultural and historical trails. The wildlife in the park is extremely rich, there are the jaguar, tapir, deer, paramo, the condor, the paujil, mountain parrot and many others. The landscapes of this region are enchanting: rainforest, mountains, snowy peaks, coffee crops and exotic flowers, natural pools, waterfalls... The region’s wealth also lies in its population, indigenous people who have lived there for centuries, with an ancient mystic culture. The cultivation of coffee and cocoa is also very important to the region.
HISTORY OF THE SIERRA NEVADA:
The Sierra is currently inhabited by the Koguis and Ljka indigenous groups better known under the name Arhuaco, who retain their mythology and ancient traditions. The Koguis indigenous community is a Native American group living in the northern Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta, in the valleys of the rivers Don Diego, Palomino, San Miguel and Ancho. These people are organized in small villages, under the authority of a "mamo" central figure in the Koguis culture that embodies and enforces the sacred laws. Their way of life has remained the same for decades. The Koguis earn most of their resources thrugh agriculture. Their lifestyle is inspired by their belief in the "Gran Madre" or mother nature. According to them the earth is a living being that must be respected. Their mission is to maintain balance and harmony between man and nature. Among their ancestral traditions, the "mamos" activity and the coca ritual are particularly notable.
La Guajira has a completely different appearance. The desert landscapes are decorated with rocks along the Caribbean coast. La Guajira has an incomparable wealth of images and colors. The landscape is varied, colorful and wide. It is a magical destination where you will witness the most ancient Colombian customs and feel the mysteries of Wayuu indigenous communities; the main Colombian indigenous people.
At Punta Soldado and Punta Aguja, you will experience perfect contact with the essence of nature.
The lush vegetation and biodiversity of Macuira create an amazing oasis in the desert of La Guajira. This paradise is the most sacred and mythical place for the Wayuu indigenous people.
From English pirates to Spanish Pearl hunters, everybody tried to conquer the La Guajira peninsula. In the 1970s a significant amount of immigration from the Middle East occurred, which contributed to the rich diversity of the region’s demographic. In the La Guajira region there are National Parks, five indigenous communities and a huge Arabic community. La Guajira is also the birthplace of vallenato music. Numerous artists and composers were born there.
HISTORY OF LA GUAJIRA:
The Wayúus: Before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors, the north (Alta) of La Guajira was inhabited by the Wayúus, the biggest indigenous community in Colombia, 250 000 people distributed between Colombia and Venezuela. In the highest parts of La Guajira, the Wayúu groups used to make a living by hunting, gathering and fishing. They had their own language and their own customs. It was a matriarchy, where women had a key role in this Wayúu society. In 1498, a companion of Christopher Columbus, Alfonso de Ojeda, was the first Spaniard to arrive on La Guajira Peninsula. The Wayúu have always shown a strong resistance to invaders. Due to this massive opposition, the Spaniards left the north part of Colombia to focus on the south, which had more resources. Indeed, the Wayúu are a warlike community that never submitted to the invaders. They worked with the English, Dutch and French, with whom they exchanged weapons and whiskey for pearls and sheep.