From Colombia To Panama

By Land And Sea

Probably one of the most exotic border crossing points in the world – Colombia/Panama at Sapzurro and La Miel is a place of outstanding natural beauty, remote enough to have escaped much development yet still safely accessible for those with time to make the journey.

Aerial view of Embalse del Penol reservoir, an artificial lake built in the 1970s - El Penon, Antioquia
Aerial view of Embalse del Penol reservoir, an artificial lake built in the 1970s – El Penon, Antioquia

Colombia

 

Portrait of a boy with the flag of Colombia painted on his face.
Portrait of a boy with the flag of Colombia painted on his face.

 

Capurgana 

Situated on the Caribbean seaboard of the biodiverse region of Choco, Capurgana is as staging point for Colombians traveling to Panama in order to work or from Panama to Colombia to renew their work permits. With no recent reports of violence, and picture postcard scenery the simple fishing villages nearby offer an excellent getaway.

Not many vehicles use the unpaved road from Medellin to Turbo – the transit point from where speed boats depart for Capurgana. It pays to be aware that the road passes through key strategic paramilitary and drug trafficking territories.

The town of Apartado, Antioquia has suffered heavy violence from FARC and Paramilitary groups due to its strategic access to Choco, Cordoba, Antioquia and to the coast.

People in this region still suffer from high levels of threats, violence, anddisplacement. displaced indigenous people who have resettled in stilt houses can be seen by the road side en route to Turbo.

Speedboats leave Turbo daily at 8am for Capurgana. From Capurgana, a fisherman will charge COP7,000 to take you to Sapzurro or to other beaches nearby.

From Capurgana to Zapsurro you can hike the clearly defined trail up and down the ridge which separates the two villages. This will take you 1.5hours carrying no gear in hot and humid jungle.

Sapzurro

Sapzurro is a quaint fishing village in a natural cove surrounded by ridges on all sides. The pace of life is slow and easy to sink into for a couple of days.

Locals move with the sea, beginning the day early and slowly. It is a very satisfying environment to be in if your desire is to wind down and make some explorations into nature. A variety of guesthouses are available including romantic waterside rooms.

A fifteen minute climb from Sapzurro will bring you to the ridge at Cabo Tiburon — Shark Cape — the official border between Colombia and Panama, which is manned by Colombian and Panamanian border guards.

From the ridge one has an uninterrupted view of pure jungle meeting blue waters along the Panamanian coastline.

A short descent from the ridge will take you to La Miel. Here there are two white sandy beaches. One is for tourists, one is for nature – untouched. See which you can access.

Panamanian military have a small border guard here and may grant you access to the second beach if you are lucky. Undocumented people have been known to make a dash for the jungle from here so soldiers are vigilant.

La Miel (the Honey)

A coral shore with a small community of mostly Afro-indigenous people. They live predominantly from the catch of fish and trade with people passing through. Ordering a fish lunch out of season may require a two hour wait, which can easily be filled by plunging into the clear waters beside the brilliant sands.

Panama

 

1126035-panama

 

The Panamanian coastline is dotted with indigenous Kuna settlements that have changed little in their way of life for thousands of years. The first of these villages, Armila can be reached by speedboat from Capurgana.

To do this, one must first register their arrival with the authorities at Puerto Obaldia – the nondescript official border entry point for Panama. Along this coastline the boundaries are a little blurred so carrying a passport or Colombian ID at all times is key.

Armila is a large settlement of palm roofed and dirt floored homes. The Kuna women typically wear vibrant hand made clothing, umpteen bracelets and anklets, gold necklaces and ear rings.

The first sight of these people is captivating for a foreigner and one can imagine the experience to be not so far removed from when Europeans first laid eyes on these shores.

With that in mind, if one wants to carry themselves with any respect in this community it is important to be aware of the exploitative approach foreigners have taken and continue to take towards indigenous people through history. It is evident in the way the people here keep themselves to themselves and offer sales of embroidery at the first point of contact.

They have little interest in the presence of tourists, while in contrast a tourist my be fascinated by the appearance of the tribe and their natural riches.

One exception to the rule is a man who has traveled the globe and studied in Russia. He has constructed an eco lodge in the village and promotes conservation of the world’s largest turtles, who spawn on the beach here from January until June each year.

This border region is a haven of natural beauty and it is tempting to explore deeper into the jungles, waterways and coral reefs. It is a rare gem in comparison to other border crossings in the world, and the relative isolation of the area will probably keep it this way unless there is a rush of tourist development.

Useful Facts

Passport or Colombian identity card required at several checkpoints.
No ATMs so cash required. (Bancolombia have a transfer mechanism for their customers in several shops in Capurgana)
Tap water is untreated, so bring purification means or buy bottled.
Electric power supply can be inconsistent. 3G and wifi can be found in Capurgana.

Top Tourist Attractions In Malaga

Malaga lies in Spain’s southern most province Andalucia.

If you want to add in a sprinkle of adventure into your holiday stay and take a break from the summer blistering heat then I’ve got a treat for you today.

I’ve listed several places below that I have personally visited and can assure you are well worth a visit.

You have no excuses. If you can hire a car that’s great and provides flexibility for you to go way of the tourist trails to explore more beautiful places.

Ok if you don’t have a hire car or can not afford one then public transport could be an option or private buses and trains can get you so far.

Malaga Minibus, Fun Ways To Travel in Andalucia

If none of them appeal to you or you are in a large group and still want to explore but all together then book a transfer with a private minibus company. There are several to choose from and there is a great price comparison post on Malaga Travel Guide’s blog here that looks at the leading Minibus transfer companies in Malaga Airport for a popular transfer to Puerto Banus

ALCAZABA FORT

malaga-alcazaba-fort

Alcazaba fort was built in 1040 to protect king Badis and the Zirid dynasty from invaders. The fortress sits on top of the highest hill in Malaga its one of the best preserved forts of its time. It was built by Moorish Muslims and based on roman design which you can see from the columns and pillars and the roman theatre.

CASTILLO DE GIBRALFARO

CASTILLO-DE-GIBRALFARO

The castle lies on the Malaga hill overlooking the city and the sea it was built in the Phoenician Punic period by the Moorish king Yusuf I from the kingdom of Granada the castles name comes from the words yabel (hill) in Arabic and faruh (lighthouse) in Greek the word Gibralfaro means lighthouse hill.

EL CHORRO

el-chorro

Guadalhorce natural park is the home of a beautiful village called El Chorro situated among the flowing mountain range it is rated a climbers paradise with exceptional conditions.

In the village for the more energetic you can hire a bike and enjoy a day in the beautiful hills and mountains surrounded by the Andalucian landscape.

n the side of the mountain near El Chorro village is a old mountain walk way called the Caminito Del Rey (as seen above) also known as the kings walk its over 100 years old and hangs 150 feet up on the side of the mountain many people have been killed trying to complete the walk around the mountain walk due to its state of disrepair. The walk way has been under repair for 2 years and the completion has seen it open to tourists in April 2015.

El Chorro is only 30 minutes train ride from Malaga Maria Zambrano station in the centre of Malaga.

MALAGA CATHEDRAL

Diego Siloe built the cathedral in the 16th century it is known as the Catedral de la Encarnacion It was built on the site of a mosque that had stood for eight centuries of Muslim power the cathedral construction continued until the 18th century and to this day the south tower and the main facade are still unfinished. There is a museum within the cathedral which can be visited free of charge. In the old days the sea used to come up as far as the cathedral.

PICASSO MUSEUM

The museum was founded on 26th Feburary 1988  it is a public foundation built under the direction of the City Council the building was constructed in 1861 and it went through a renovation in 1997 it houses ceramics , sketches and classic pieces of Picasso.

You can find the museum in the city centre it is a short distance from the Cervantes Theatre during the buildings restoration Phoenician and Roman remains were discovered and are now on display in the basement of the building.

PLAZA DE LA MERCED

This is the birth place of Picasso it is situated in a large walking plaza the square is full of cafes and exhibitions.

BULLFIGHTING MUSUEM

Museo Taurino Antonoi Ordonez is the home the bullfighting museum inside the La Malagueta Bullring at houses a in depth guide into bullfighting in Malaga and the rest of Spain.

TORREMOLINOS

Torremolinos has one of the best beaches on the Costal del Sol it is a popular with Spanish and tourists alike ideal for family holidays.