In the final part of this two-part series, I describe the different destinations of Aguacate, Sapzurro, and Capurgana, and the great family run Bahia Lodge. Read Part One here.
We were soon sipping cold beers next to a beautiful beach with the waves crashing behind us.
Greeted by our uber-friendly German host, Lothar, we were escorted to our rooms and cabanas in the Bahia Lodge.
The cabanas overlooked the beach with their own porch and hammock; the majority of rooms had a sea view. It was idyllic. The room interiors were rustic and full of character, but clean.
There was plenty of space for all the guests on the extensive grounds, along a small pool (you can’t swim in the sea as it’s too rough).
A raised bar was situated right by the sea, and there were tables on a peaceful grassy area.
The price was very reasonable at 95,000 pesos ($40) per person, per night for a room and 110,000 pesos ($47) per person for a cabana. This included breakfast and dinner.
I also learned from Lothar that my ancestors from Scotland had tried to settle in the nearby area across the Panamanian border in the late 17th century.
Suffice to say, the tropics didn’t agree with us Scots much and New Edinburgh ended up in its current ruinous state within a few years, and Scotland had to go running to England for money (one of the reasons why England and Scotland are now together in the United Kingdom).
We had a delicious lunch for 15,000 pesos ($6.50) served up by Lothar, his wife and sister-in-law, a real family operation, before spending an afternoon in various stages of napping and recovering from the exertions of the journey.
In the evening, we were greeted with a candlelit dinner and another fine serving of food. I, not being a fish fan, was given the option of chicken. And it was tasty and fresh. Fish, if you like that sort of thing, also got a thumbs up.
Beer and wine could be bought at the bar to be put on your room tab.
The next day we headed into Capurgana. A 15-minute boat ride or “45 minute” stroll along the coast with some fresh sea breeze. Or rather one hour and thirty minutes for our group.
We arrived at Capurgana, and I have to say I was disappointed. It had a buzzy, touristy feel to it, and the beaches in the close vicinity weren’t anything to write home about.
Being the main tourist hub, there was an array of accommodation, including Hotel Las Mananitas. However, the picturesque photos I had seen online were more charming online than in person, and it was busier than I expected.
If I had arrived here after our 12-hour ordeal, I would be disappointed.
After a street empanada and cheeky rum and Coke, we headed off for Sapzurro, the quieter and more secluded neighbor of Capurgana.
There weren’t exactly directions, but with a group of 10 mostly pasty-looking foreigners, we were directed well by the locals to go over the big hill where we would end up in Sapzurro.
The path was fairly clear through the forest, and we had some cheeky monkeys for company, who were just doing their thing up in the trees.
About half way up there was a small hut with refreshments and a Colombian keen to share information about the history of the area and the work they were doing to protect the environment.
As you might guess, there was also a suggested tip of a few thousand pesos to help keep up the maintenance of the area and paths.
Once we reached the top of the hill, we were treated to a fantastic view over the bay areas. I don’t use the word lightly, but it was stunning. Please see photo below.
A further 45-minute downhill and we arrived at Sapzurro. A beautiful, tranquil and small beach with a more chilled village behind it. This was more of the vibe we were after and was far superior to Capurgana in virtually every way.
After a short menu of the day at a local restaurant, we were off to Panama!
It wasn’t far, a 30-minute walk up and over another hill from Sapzurro. The border crossing was essentially one man from Panama writing details of your Cedula de Extranjeria and a “Welcome to Panama” sign.
Evidently no border guard patrolled the Colombian side. A 20-minute walk down the other side and we reached the famous La Miel Beach.
It was beautiful, and I can imagine, if there weren’t hundreds of Colombians dancing to salsa and drinking beers on their Semana Santa break, quite the tranquil scene.
The beach, despite the masses, was still stunning. However what wasn’t great was the sea. It was filthy. As in you couldn’t move two meters without stepping in plastic. It was a real shame as the backdrop was beautiful.
I am sure that when it isn’t Semana Santa it would be very picturesque. Also of note is the huge supermarket that sells duty-free drinks. You can pick up a bottle of Casilleros del Diablo wine for $6, which is about half the price you would regularly pay in Colombia.
So we bought a few bottles. The boat picked us up at sunset. We then had another hairy ride. I got wet, very wet, and then we ran out of fuel and had to stop off at Capurgana before arriving in Aguacate at nightfall.
We didn’t go out into the town at night as we preferred the chilled out vibe at our accommodation, but you can go out in Capurgana as there are a few bars and restaurants. It’s not your typical party spot though.
In season, you can also watch turtles laying their eggs at night on the beach. There are also various places to snorkel, horseback ride and scuba dive.
The luxury travellers arrived the following day. Worse for wear. Their flight had been delayed in Medellín.
They suffered the two and a bit hour boat journey (somebody booked the wrong airport, doh!) and they had it worse since they had to do it in bad, mid-day currents (not advisable, and only boats on deliveries were out there).
We spent one more day chilling on the Aguacate side of our accommodation, larking around in the sea and playing various games.
Our return to Turbo was a much smoother affair, and only an hour and a half journey.
So the million dollar question, was it worth it? I wouldn’t go back for a second time, but I would recommend going once.
If you can afford to fly, do it. Likewise, I highly recommend Bahia Lodge or staying outside of Capurgana in Sapzurro, where there are multiple options to rent rooms or camp.
It was nice to get out of the traditional tourist bubble and doing so helps you realize that Colombia is full of hidden gems.
Just keep in mind you might need to endure some discomfort to reach them.