After spending more than two weeks in Cali, the salsa capital, I ventured to go to the port of Buenaventura to take a cargo boat to Bahía Solano. This town located in the Colombian Pacific can only be reached by sea or by air, they have no roads, since they are surrounded by lush jungle on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other.
There are small planes that fly from Medellín, and the prices as in almost all the airlines of the world vary depending on the date, there is no fixed price. There are only two airlines that make this route Satena and ADA, and you will find prices on their website, but the foreigners cards (not Colombian) do not work on their website, so either go directly to the airport to buy your ticket or find a local agency where you can buy it. Be careful, at the airport they do not accept credit cards either, only cash.
You first need to arrive at the port of Buenaventura, from here you will have two options, speed boat or cargo boat. To get to this place in the Colombian Pacific you will have to take a mini bus from Cali, which takes about 4 hours and there are buses every hour.
By speed boat
There are fast boat options from Buenaventura, but it’s more expensive. You have to go to the port and there ask prices and schedules to the different locations of the Pacific coast. It is a good option if you do not have much time. You can go for example to the area of Juanchaco or Playa Ladrilleros and it takes about 4 hours by boat, there are accommodation options there.
By cargo boat
If you are not in a hurry and you travel with time, I recommend this option. It is the cheapest, a ticket with meals included and shared “cabin” costs 150,000 COP (approximately 43€) and it is a very authentic trip.
The journey lasts from 22 to 26 hours depending on the state of the sea, but they are very stable boats and although I went in the rainy season and there was a storm all night long the boat did not move much and I did not get sick. But it is always a good idea to take sickness tablets before the journey just in case.
The ticket includes 3 meals, dinner, breakfast and lunch. All three are the same menu, rice and fish, yes, for breakfast too. And a hot tea.
The boats only leave 2 days a week and it is best to call to confirm the days and the departure time. Not many passengers use it, since it is basically a cargo ship, where they transport absolutely everything from food to furniture, so do not expect any luxury, just a different experience.
I travel with Bodega Renacer, his phone number is 311 3402716.
Accommodation in Bahía Solano or El Valle Chocó.
Once you get to Bahía Solano you can take a tuctuc that will take you to El Valle if you want something even more authentic and still free from the crowds of tourists, the distance is not very long but the road is quite bad without asphalting, so you take between 30-40 minutes, but the landscape is worth it.
In El Valle Chocó you can make excursions through the jungle, visit waterfalls and also participate in activities such as the release of turtles, provided you are lucky enough to go during the spawning season between July and October. I advise you to visit Mama Orbe, it is an eco Hostel located in front of Cuevita Beach and that is responsible for the conservation of turtles. They make scheduled excursions from El Valle, but if you go and stay one night there they do not charge you for the activity, and if you are lucky you will be able to release turtles at night and the next morning.
If you dare to live this experience, please leave us your comment, we would love to know how you were adventurous!