If you haven’t noticed aready, I’ll come right out and say it: I’m a dope. I’m generally quite comfortable with my dopiness, but sometimes it is cause for concern. Here’s an example, just a little sample:
OK, so if you want to see this:
You need to go on one of these:
“Tell us something we don’t know, you dope,” I hear you muttering in exasperation. Alright, so, while I have enjoyed the beauty of Tayrona’s sublime beaches and backdrops, and Cocora Valley’s mist-shrouded gorgeousness, I have, due to my aforementioned dopiness, been caught out on trails in both places. I’ve been thoroughly footsore, demoralised, and have found myself quoting Frank O’Hara : “I can’t even enjoy a blade of grass unless I know there’s a subway handy, or a record store or some other sign that people do not totally regret life.” It doesn’t have to be this way, though. Colombia has such a variety of sublime natural destinations that are decidedly worth a brief little walk. And, through my mistakes, I’d like to put forward my top 5 things to consider if you don’t want to look, and feel, like a dope.
1. Talk to Locals.
Don’t be too scared, or proud, to ask Colombians that live around the area for directions or advice. Even if your Spanish is terrible, a simple “donde esta…” plus map-pointing and gesturing will probably be enough to convey your meaning. I haven’t met a local on a trail yet that’s not less than happy (if a little amused) to point out directions to a poor, bedraggled, gringo.
2. Wear the right footwear.
Just like in fancy clubs, you don’t want to be caught out with inappropriate shoes. You don’t need the latest, super-extreme, radiation-proof hiking shoes with blue-tooth and GPS, but how I cursed my crappy, ill-fitting flip-flops when I was traipsing through Tayrona’s aromatic mud, attracting bemused glances from locals in their gumboots. A good, sturdy pair of shoes or boots that you don’t mind getting a little dirty can be your best friend.
3. Pack plastic.
Which brings me to my next point. If you don’t want a sodden, possibly useless, passport, or a fried mobile phone, take some plastic bags with you. They don’t have to be the fancy-pants zip-lock ones; just a couple of shopping bags you picked up from the supermarket should suffice in keeping your valuables safe and dry.
4. Clothes, darling, clothes.
I like outrageous flares. However, I didn’t like them that much after I’d traipsed through mud and water around Cocora Valley. Even if you’re Disco Stu, a pair of no-nonsense shorts or three-quarter pants are probably a better option. Maybe a powder-blue safari suit….?
5. Knowledge is Power.
I can be fairly lackadaisical when it comes to preparation for a trip, and that’s often fine. However, as signage can sometimes be scarce or confusing, I’ve realised that if I plan to go on a Colombian trail, it’s probably best to know where I’m going. Browse our website here, do a bit of googling, and quiz anyone you see (vide point 1 above) about how to get to those majestic wax palms or that beautiful, secluded beach.