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Northern Colombia: Still Undiscovered

By Paul Menta/www.thekitehouse.com

I got the call from Wladamir Paternina from Humboldt Kite School, my partner at The Kite House in Ecuador. He said he was heading back up to Columbia to visit family and that I should meet him. I told him nah, I’d rather go on a wave trip, but let me know how it is there.

Photo Paul Menta

Three weeks later, I got an email saying, “Hey man, you going anywhere? There is 25 knots of wind here 24 hours a day and waves!” I start picturing head high waves with a tube, blowing side-off. He tells me he is near Barranquilla, Colombia, in a place I can’t even find on Google Maps. I started researching flights and find I can fly directly to Barranquilla everyday from Miami for cheap. I’m out of here!

After a quick two and a half hour flight, I was picked up and we headed to the coast. Wladamir is excitedly telling me how you can ride flat water on one side with perfect side-onshore conditions for freestyle or racing while the other side, a short five minute walk away, serves up perfect long peeling waves formed by sandbars with side-offshore winds.

Photo Paul Menta

Waves, Freestyle, and Racing — Why is no one here?

Twenty minutes after leaving the sairport, we reached Nautico Velero in Puerto Velero. In the middle of nowhere, the center is owned by Carlos Gomez, a hardcore wave windsurfer and kiter. His center was really rad, albeit rather primitive. With palapas everywhere, Puerto Velero has no water or electricity, but Carlos and his staff more than takes care of you with fresh caught fish, beans, rice, rental gear, and tons of wind.

I see all the flat water and Carlos says to me, “You like to see the waves huh?” We then gathered our gear and food for the day and headed down the fishermen’s trail which was covered with more driftwood than I’ve ever seen in one place. Five minutes later, I see wind swell with a form to it that has a great lip and long, long lines, all rights.

Photo Claudine Bencelin

We rode all day – just three of us and I got covered up more times than a cold Eskimo. Over the next four days, I kited waves in board short conditions until I couldn’t ride anymore. I did manage to squeeze in one 30 minute freestyle session in the flats just to do it but the waves were just way too much fun.

Now that I have been back at my home base in Key West for a few weeks, I am still reliving this trip and the good times and epic conditions discovered. There are still a ton of uncrowded spots out there that are wide open for you to discover. You just need friends, internet, and a sense of adventure.

Photo Paul Menta

FACT FILE:

LODGING:

Since Puerto Valero has no running water or electricity, Puerto Colombia is just five minutes away where Carlos from Nautica Valero offers nice rooms for rent on his property. For $30 a night, you get a private room, bath, cable TV, air conditioning, and internet. Carlos is also building accommodations at the center next year that will get power.

FOOD:

Food is good and simple, mostly consisting of rice, beans, fish, and plantains. There is a ton of fruit everywhere and smoothie stands can be found throughout the town. Restaurants are mostly small mom and pop eateries with meals ranging from $3-8 USD on average.

CONDITIONS:

The best time to go is between early December and mid April when it seemingly blows every day. “Light wind” days are around 16 knots, but the average is about 25.

GETTING THERE:

Fly Avianca into Barranquilla or Cartagena. I flew from Miami to Barranquilla for $382 round trip. For transportation, Nautica Velero takes you everywhere or flag down one of the many taxis. If you stay at Carlos’, you will just go with him to the center every day. If you stay in town, you can take a taxi to the center. Flat water riding is directly in front and waves are a five minute walk away.

SCHOOL:

Nautica Velero offers kite and windsurf rentals as well as lessons.

WEATHER:

Average temperature is 85-90°F from late November to early April. Trade winds more or less cool it to a more comfortable temperature during daylight hours. Bring plenty of sunscreen, a hat, and a rashie!

WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO DO:

This is not the place you take a date. You go to Puerto Velero to kite or windsurf. If your significant other doesn’t ride, they can lay out in the sun all day and chill. Main tourist attractions in Puerto Colombia include its swamps, beaches, the Castillo de Salgar (castle), the old train station, and the wharf. You can also try paragliding from the top of Cupino mountain.

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