On the Caribbean coast of Colombia in the county/department of Chocó, near the border with Panama is the seaside resort of Capurganá which is not accessible via road.
Some years ago I went there with my family for a five day holiday. We bought a package which included return flights from Olaya Herrera airport in Medellin, room and full board in hotel El Mar, free drinks from ten a.m. until midnight and a free class of scuba diving in the hotel swimming pool.
Olaya Herrera is the original airport of Medellin, now there is an international airport up in the mountains near the town of Rio Negro about forty-five minutes from the city. However, when I first came to Medellin in 1980 Olaya Herrera was the only airport, and the large aeroplanes had to circle quite a few times to reduce height to be able to land on the short runway of the airport situated in the Aburrá Valley, surrounded by the Andes Mountains. These days the airport is used mainly for internal flights and small aircraft. I remember as we left the departure lounge to board the flight there was a sign in English above ht e door that wished all passengers a happy fly, rather than flight. Sometimes I wonder if this has been corrected.
The plane was a small twenty seat Foker with no doors separating the pilot’s cabin from the main cabin so it was possible to see the pilot and co-pilot throughout the flight. At least we could see they weren’t sleeping. After takeoff besides being handed a carton of juice and a sandwich for an early lunch we were also given ear plugs to cram inside our ears to reduce the noise of the engines.
The flight took about one hour and fifteen minutes and was quite smooth considering it was a small plane. Some of the views along the route were spectacular, especially over the mountainous region and along the coast as we approached Capurganá.
The airport at Capurganá can best be described as rural, the runway or maybe it's better to refer to it as a landing strip, was squeezed between a row of fairly shabby houses and huts on one side and dense vegetation on the other. The airport buildings consisted of a row of one-story huts selling local craft work, drinks, sweets and a few other assorted products. There was also a customs office, which had certainly seen better days, and didn't look as if it saw much work or had any real use.
The hotel was situated on the edge of the beach and was quite rustic, the main construction being of wood. There was a small bar, an open plan eating area, an open-sided area with hammocks where one could go to relax, a few table tennis tables and a swimming pool.
The beach at Capurganá is not big, but it is typically Caribbean with coconut palms growing all along it. The sea was not the typical turquoise blue that one expects in the Caribbean, mainly due to the waves churning up the sand on the seabed. Not far out to sea there was a very small-uninhabited island. Along the beach there were a few benches where one could sit and watch the world go by, a wooden hut where they sold drinks and seafood and volleyball net.
The food at the hotel was buffet style with a good selection of dishes, and included a starter, main course and dessert. Each night there was some form of entertainment organised by the hotel staff which usually involved audience participation, though just like the beach sellers they respected those people, like me, who didn't wish to take part in such activities. We went to two or three of these events and thoroughly enjoyed watching the people making fools of themselves.
There were three excursions available, one by boat, to a nearby village called Sapzurro and then onto a nearby beach called La Miel, another was a walk to a place called El Cielo, which in Spanish can either be translated as The Sky or Heaven and a third one, also by boat to another nearby beach. The excursions were not included in the price, but were not excessively expensive. We chose to take the excursions to Sapzurro and El Cielo. The two boat trips were all day excursions and therefore included lunch, whereas the walking trip only lasted four hours.
You can read part two here and part three here.
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