Capurganá and Sapzurro – two towns located between the jungle of the famous Darién Gap and the white sand beaches with turquoise water of the Gulf of Urabá. In this region there are no roads, all the people who want to get there or who want to move from one town to another must do so by boat.
But perhaps it is exactly that lack of buses, cars, and trucks that gives them such a special atmosphere, the only means of transportation that can be found in Capurganá and Sapzurro are donkeys, bicycles, and motorcycles. This can make planning a trip there more difficult, however, it is worth it, no one should miss it! – Remember that I mentioned white sand beaches, lined with coconut palms, turquoise water in front of a jungle full of exotic plants and animals.
I went with my boyfriend at Easter to Sapzurro. Easter is definitely considered high season and there were a lot of people, but thanks to the fact that Sapzurro is a small town with limited capacities it did not feel as crowded unlike Capurganá which is bigger, but I will talk about that later …
How can they travel to Sapzurro? Here I leave all the information, costs, and travel tips in this practical guide to travel to Sapzurro.
How to get to Sapzurro:
You must first take a bus to Necoclí or Turbo. The bus from Medellín to Necoclí in Cootransuroccidente costs 70,000 COP and takes approximately 8 hours. The other bus companies that operate this route are Gomez and Hernandez as well as SotraUrabá. The 3 companies leave from the Terminal del Norte de Medellín, where it is quite easy to get to by Metro: from any area of the city they go to the Caribe station and from there they enter the terminal directly.
I recommend buying tickets a few days in advance, especially if you want to travel in the high season. We called a few days before going to our hostel in Sapzurro and the man recommended that we take the boat from Necoclí. This option from Necoclí has several advantages: the journey is shorter with 1 hour and a half (from Turbo it is between 2.5 and 3 hours), the town of Necoclí is also very beautiful (Turbo has a bad reputation) and the price of the boat is the same.
For those who choose to travel to Sapzurro from Turbo: the bus from Medellín to Turbo should cost 62,000 COP. I also recommend buying the return ticket to Medellín on the same day of the trip at the Medellín terminal or at the Necoclí terminal.
The second part of the trip to Sapzurro is by sea and costs 60,000 COP one way per person or 120,000 round trip per person from Necoclí to Capurganá. I recommend that you buy your return ticket to Necoclí at once and make a reservation for the return when you arrive in Capurganá (especially in high seasons like Easter).
Making advance reservations is possible, but they did not work in our case, but we heard from someone who deposited 50% in a bank account and, he and his group managed to leave on the 8:00 am boat. We had called to make a reservation a couple of days before for the 8:00 am boat as well, but we had to stand in line just like those who arrived directly there. Finally, we left in the boat at 11:00 am to go from Necoclí to Capurganá.
Leaving Capurganá, the situation was very similar: people who booked to leave Capurganá at 8:00 a.m. left at around 10:30 a.m., the other boats left more punctual but: Do not plan your trip with a very tight schedule, as you cannot trust that the boats leave at the planned time!
Note: When leaving Necoclí for Capurganá and from Capurganá to Necoclí, a port tax of 2,000 COP per person is charged. Also, bear in mind that the company only allows you to carry 8 kg of luggage per person, for each additional kg 1,000 COP is charged, but we did not weigh our outbound luggage but only for the return.
Here is the contact of the operating company of the Necoclí-Capurganá-Necoclí boats for more information and reservations:
Tourism investments MARIN CARRASCAL
(034) 821 4164
315 687 4284
The last part of the trip is to get from Capurganá to Sapzurro. By boat, it costs 10,000 COP and takes 5-10 minutes. For this, they do not need to make any reservations, simply arrive at the dock and ask for the next boat that leaves to Sapzurro and vice versa. The other option is to walk for 1.5 to 2 hours through a humid tropical forest, which I will describe later in the activities.
Where to stay in Sapzurro:
After doing some research online and making some calls, we decided that we were going to camp in Sapzurro because we wanted to stay several nights and the truth is that the budget did not allow us for some cabins. As the town is so small, the prices for private rooms in the few lodgings that exist are very similar at 90,000 COP per person per night or more if the hotel includes food, etc.
Where the Chilean camping costs 10,000 COP per person and night; Normally it is worth 15,000 COP, but if you call in advance to make a reservation, it is most likely that they will give you that discount. We bring our own tent, but it is also possible to rent a Chilean tent. Other options offered by the lodging are hammocks, shared dormitories, and a few private rooms. The hammocks cost 15,000 COP in high season per person/night and 10,000 / 12,000 in low season and the bedroom is more or less the same.
The lodge offers a basic kitchenette with two gas burners and basic equipment, bathrooms, and showers. She also has a restaurant that is currently run by a girl from the United States, but if they don’t ask her where she is from, they probably won’t notice her, since she speaks Spanish as if it were her native language. She runs her restaurant with a lot of love and offers 2 types of breakfast (basic of 2 eggs, an arepa, and coffee or aromatic for 5,000 COP or a more abundant one for 10,000 COP) and food in the evening.
Food prices vary depending on the menu, but normally they cost 18,000 COP (fish, rice and salad), spaghetti costs 15,000 COP / vegetarian spaghetti 12,000 COP, another dish with seafood costs 22,000 COP; one night they even organized a BBQ.
Another nice and similar place to camp is right next to El Chileno and is called La Posada. It is more expensive, but it has a larger camping area.
What to do in Sapzurro and Capurganá:
In Sapzurro there are no other things to do than enjoy the beach and the sea, but in its surroundings, there are a number of landscapes, fauna and flora to discover:
- See turtle spawning in Acandí:
Caná turtles arrive at a beach near Acandí to spawn. Tour operators in Capurganá offer this turtle-watching tour for 60,000 COP and the tour leaves at 8 pm and the return can be between 1 am and 4 am, depending on the time the turtles come out of the water, but how can it be? It was a bit difficult to get back to Sapzurro by boat in the early morning, we started looking for other options. We managed to negotiate with a man from Sapzurro who has a boat (which normally offers the routes between Capurganá, Sapzurro, and La Miel) to take us to Acandí for 50,000 COP per person leaving and returning.
So by going to various lodgings and restaurants, counting other travelers in our plan, we managed to gather the 12 people. I recommend bringing warm clothes, a blanket to sit on or sleep on the beach while waiting for the turtles to arrive, suddenly some food and water, as they may have to wait a couple of hours – but always keep in mind that there is no guarantee to see turtles.
The spawning season of these turtles in Colombia is approximately 5 months, between February and June of each year, with more incidence in the month of April. These dates are very important because only in April and early May is the probability of going out to the beach any night you can see the turtle spawning. Sadly we did not see any on the night we went to Acandí which may have been because it was a full moon night and therefore a lit night and the turtles do not feel comfortable spawning with the light …
- Hike to Playa Blanca in La Miel, Panama:
Sapzurro is the last town before reaching the Colombian border with Panama, and therefore it is quite easy to get to La Miel, Panama. Seeing the Sapzurro church from the front, go to the next corner on the right and there turn left, follow this path to the bottom until you reach a dirt path, pass the bridge and already reach the stairs that go up the hill which represents the boundary.
At the top of that hill, there will be some patrollers of the Colombian and Panamanian police, but they do not need a passport, they will only register their identity document and even if they did not bring it, they will give them the number of their identity card or passport, and they will let them pass. After about 15 minutes of walking, you will arrive in the town of La Miel, in the first block turning to the right passing a soccer field and then some coconut palm trees will arrive at a spectacular beach of white sand and blue sea.
- Duty Free in La Miel, Panama
Another place of interest is the Duty-Free at Playa Blanca de La Miel in Panama. A short time ago, they installed it on the entire beach behind the pier. There they will get everything (pots, covers, appliances, sheets, clothes, etc.) but the most sought after are sweets and imported alcohol, which are much cheaper there than on the other side of the border, in Colombia.
Fun fact: Here the prices are dollars since it is Panama territory, but there are no ATMs in town. Don’t worry: Colombian pesos are accepted! That new modern building in the center of the beach and surrounded by cabanas made of wood and palm leaves look a bit weird and badly located.
- Hike to Capurganá and from there to the natural pools around it: La Coquerita, El Trébol, El Cielo and the Pool of the Gods – all are natural pools near Capurganá where entry to each is worth only 2,000 COP. They are highly recommended!
But first things first: How to get from Sapzurro to Capurganá? From any point of Sapzurro looking towards the sea, go right until you reach a beach, continue towards a blue house and before arriving you will see a sign pointing to “Cascada La Diana”. Follow the direction indicated by the sign and where the path separates, take the path on the left. It is a very beautiful ecological trail that first goes up to a viewpoint from where you can see the bay of Sapzurro on one side and Capurganá on the other. From there, the trail begins to descend to Capurganá.
If you follow these instructions, you cannot lose them. You see beautiful and exotic plants and flowers, and with a bit of luck, you can see exotic animals like monkeys in the treetops. The walk is 1.5 to 2 hours depending on the step and how long you take in the viewpoint, but in any case, you must carry a lot of water because even if you are used to exercising you will sweat a lot due to the humidity of the jungle.
The second part, going to the natural pools: Once they have arrived in Capurganá they can simply take advantage of the best offer of restaurants, shops, tour operators and pharmacies (things that there are not in Sapzurro) or be on the beach there, but like me, I went in high season and there are more hotel capacities in Capurganá, the beach was quite crowded.
Another option is to go to the natural pools:
- The pool of the gods is 10 minutes from the pier and I did not recognize it at first glance because it is simply a small pool that is separated from the sea with some rocks and that is why the water is calmer but salty. It is the only free pool.
- La Coquerita is following the path to the pool of the gods for another 20-30 minutes. This pool is the one that I liked the most for 2 reasons: the path to get there offers spectacular views with rock formations, the waves that crash in them, the palm trees and other trees, and the other thing I loved was the pool of natural waves of La Coquerita. Additionally, there are some freshwater pools as well, but they lost their charm compared to the wave pool due to the drought of the waterfall. There they also offer something to eat and drink
- El Trébol y El Cielo are at the other end of Capurganá behind the airport runway. There are some signs there, but it is easier to ask people on the way to tell you. Getting there, we saw monkeys in the trees – fascinating animals! These two pools are freshwater.
After walking and at sunset, our group decided to pay the 10,000 COP and return by boat to Sapzurro. We arrived tired, but happy, although a little burned out because we were exposed to the hot sun of the Colombian coast for a long time. I recommend applying a lot of sunscreen!
What / Where to eat in Sapzurro:
In all the restaurants in Sapzurro the food costs at least 18,000 COP, although sometimes you can find something cheaper, it does not go down more than 15,000 COP. That is why I recommend that if you do not have the possibility and low budget to prepare food in a kitchen if you have access to one, although everything is more expensive in the shops of the town than in a large supermarket in the country.
Some examples: 0.5 L water costs $2000, 1 L bottled water $3000, 6 L bag of water $5000, sachet of mayonnaise $1000, 1 can of tuna $ 4500-5000, hot dog style bread $1000, package of sliced bread $3700, Suntea (in powder) $1000, Águila beer $3000, Club Colombia beer $3500, Festival cookies $1000.
What to bring to Sapzurro:
Although almost everything can be obtained in Sapzurro or easier in Capurganá, I recommend taking what you can in the 8 kilos allowed on the boat because it is always more expensive there. This is the list of things I recommend taking for a trip to Sapzurro or Capurganá:
- Clothing: bring light clothing, a bathing suit, a towel, comfortable walking shoes (tennis), flip-flops, a sweatshirt and long pants or something to keep warm, as it may feel cold when it starts to rain.
- Sunscreen, Repellent, Mareol, Moisturizing cream (aftersun): lots of sunscreen! The sun is very hot, and the most likely thing is that you will spend a lot of time on or near the sea, and it is reflected. Mareol tablets are useful if your stomach is sensitive to seasickness on the boat, since the journeys are quite long.
- Cash: calculate what you will need and bring that amount in cash. They can be oriented very well with the prices mentioned above, and they will realize that it is a relatively expensive destination, however there are no ATMs or cards are accepted in Sapzurro, Capurganá or La Miel which means that you have to withdraw money you have to do it. Before going on a trip.
I don’t think there is an ATM in Necoclí, only in Turbo. – But beware! The people of Turbo and Necoclí also know that and there have been stories of travelers who were victims of robbery, but using their common sense not to go into the streets alone, etc. they must be fine.
- Large plastic bags: the bags are used to protect your luggage so that all the clothes do not get wet on the boats
Written by: Anna