Discover Nuqui, one of the Pacific coast’s and Colombia’s most idyllic spots, stay at a beautiful, tranquil eco-lodge and experience tropical forests, untouched beaches and welcoming hospitality from the local communities.
I was lucky enough to find myself with seven weeks to spend backpacking in Colombia over New Year, and decided on a diverse collection of destinations.
And so it was arranged – an itinerary including the very furthest tips of La Guajira; the surprisingly under-trodden paths of Huila, and the Volcano of Purace; the depths of the Colombian and – okay, I admit it – Brazilian Amazon rainforest; and first of all, the rugged Pacific coastline of El Choco.
All four legs of this journey were utterly spectacular in terms of beauty, and equally exhilarating and arresting with regards to ‘adventure’. Yet, if forced to pick one, there would be no competition: Nuqui, or rather, the beaches and villages just south of this small, charming fishing town – charming despite, or perhaps thanks to, its somewhat dilapidated appearance.
I stayed for 13 days on the Choco coast, spending all of my time at the Nautilos Ecolodge Guachalito. Guachalito is not so much a village as a stretch of untouched beach, accessible only by boat, which extends uninterrupted for tens of miles around the Gulf of Tribuga, a large, sheltered bay that opens up into the Pacific proper. On these beaches, one finds a sprinkling of eco-hotels strung out, miles apart – all consumed by jungle; all completely paradisiacal.
My arrival to this particular accommodation was admittedly far more coincidental than the result of any concerted effort on my part. A friendly businessman who sat next to me on the plane to Medellin (the stop over, before you take the smallest plane you will ever board to the smallest airfield you will ever land at) spoke effusively about this entire region and insisted that I stay in this particular establishment, and with the kind of ideal traveller’s luck usually only dreamed of, I finally arrived there for a third of the price.
So yes, this particular spot might not be the backpackers’ first port of call. But as my friend Hector told me no more than thirty-seven times, it’s great because “you’re right in the middle of the action.”
‘Action’ might actually be false-advertising: those two weeks in Guachalito turned out to be two of the most tranquil of my entire life. Staying in a quaint, moderately-sized bedroom with an en-suite spouting recently collected rain water, I would exit my boudoir each morning straight onto a personal terrace equipped, naturally, with a hammock and deck chair. The lovely local chef would ring her mellifluously toned bell at 8am and down I would descend for breakfast. Breakfast’s self-indulgent tone seeped happily into the rest of the days’ activities: an undemanding beach-read; a deeply non-exerting beach stroll; or a thoroughly deserved dip in the ludicrously turquoise sea – ideal temperature, of course, for cooling off.
Lunch and supper ensued, with delicious local fish dishes ranging from fillets of whatever was caught that day to fresh tuna soup and tuna salad. Later, evening beach walks to hidden waterfalls were set against astonishing sunsets on the way there and, on our return, the most exquisite and existential-crisis-inducing star-gazing sessions of my life. Even waking up one morning to see that my friend’s shoe had been artfully both vomited and defecated into by a resident cat could not dampen the mood. Overall, whether appreciating the sight of the awe-inspiring jungle crashing silently into the Pacific Ocean, or listening from my bed to the distant roars of howler monkeys and lapping of gentle waves, I was simply in an eternal bliss.
Whilst this trip normally costs 180.000 COP per day, this includes accommodation plus three meals a day. As previously mentioned, this “middle-of-the-action” advantage means one can walk to many nearby places of interest, including the villages of Coqui and Jobi and their respective mangroves and river, as well as Termales, a village with its own natural spa. People here are delightfully warm, and if you fancy a cheaper and more authentic experience, a recommended posada in Coqui called “La Chocolateria” charges only 45.000 a night with food.
By David Polden