Last week was very technological in Cali thanks to the Campus Party, so I wanted to change the tonic a little, and talk about one of the eco-tourist destinations in the Valley that I like the most. It is about San Cipriano.
Located half an hour from the port city Buenaventura, this small town is located in the middle of the peaceful tropical jungle. San Cipriano is recognized locally as a tourist destination and a nature reserve, characterized by the exotic beauty of the river that runs through it. A crystalline river like none in Colombia and I would dare to say that like few others in the world. San Cipriano is so virgin and preserved that it is not possible to reach it by car, which is why its only access route is the Buenaventura railroad, which is currently used exclusively to transport loads to and from Buenaventura.
Hence another one of the additional attractions of San Cipriano is born, and that is that if you want to get to the town, you must necessarily ride in “the witches”. The witches are artisan ballerina cars powered by motorcycles, which are stuck in an unauthorized way to the train tracks and transport visitors from Cordoba to San Cipriano. Cordoba is the town where visitors arrive when they come by road to Buenaventura, and if you have arrived in Cordoba by car, you should know that you get there, and you should leave it in a parking lot, and continue on your way to San Cipriano jungle inside in the witches.
This tour is definitely not for all tastes, you must have a backpacker’s soul and like eco-tourism, because in San Cipriano you will not find luxuries, only many natural beauty. The ride in the witches is by itself an adventure and in my opinion, what makes San Cipriano so special and remains still so virgin because not everyone is measured to travel in these peculiar carts.
When you arrive in Cordoba, after solving the issue of where to leave the car (I personally have arranged with the local residents to leave it in the parking lot of someone’s house), you continue towards the train tracks, where you are going to meet the cooperative of the workers of the witches. Here there is not much to say, if you go with the cooperative, you pay your ticket at the kiosk (the price is around 7,000 pesos for the 2 trips), you agree with the person who sells you the ticket on the day and time you leave to return so that you know when you should be ready to be picked up (because if you do not learn this information, you may be staying in San Cipriano without transportation back). On the other hand, if you are one of those who like to negotiate and haggle, you can go to the same drivers of the witches and agree with them directly a rate (which may be cheaper depending on your negotiating skills, but I recommend that you better use the lockers if you don’t want surprises later).
Once you have solved the issue of transportation, ride on the witch, he said to himself. And as can be seen in the images, there is not much security (or none at all), it is only the ball-bearing car, a seat in the middle, and a motorcycle anchored at the other end. So, hang on where you can and enjoy the ride (or suffer, as the case may be). The journey is relatively short, it takes about 15 to 20 minutes in the little witch depending on the speed of the motorcycle and the number of little witches that are circulating at that time.
Here are two small videos that I took to give you an idea of what the experience is like:
Already in San Cipriano, one finds that the town is truly small, and consists of a few houses and hostels built on the river bank and further down several restaurants and at least 2 small discos. Basically the objective of the town is to provide lodging and food to visitors So if you are going to stay at least one night, the first thing you should do is ensure your stay by looking for a hostel. Many visitors are backpackers and bring their own tents so some of the houses offer indoor camping service (and it is a very good idea because, being a tropical jungle, sometimes in San Cipriano it rains mercilessly for hours, which is why having a good roof is essential to sleep well.
The San Cipriano river
After you have solved the accommodation (if you are going to be clear), you can dedicate yourself to enjoying the San Cipriano river. For this, there is a natural path that runs along the riverbank for a distance of no less than 2 kilometers through which you will find a series of selected entrances to the river called puddles. Puddles are places that locals have found appropriate for bathers because they form natural pools, and it is here that The San Cipriano river stands out on any river that I had seen before, because its natural pools can be several meters deep (the one that has the most is called dark puddle with a maximum depth of 15 meters), where bathers can not only swim freely, but also dive from some high places that are in each of the pools.
It is not uncommon to see visitors using fins and diving instruments to dive into the natural pools of the San Cipriano River, even one of the times I went, I ran into some men who had brought oxygen tanks to dive in the river. , which would have seemed far-fetched on any other river, but entirely possible here.
Something that I particularly enjoy in San Cipriano, is renting a tire (the kind for cars or trucks) and walking down the path to the last of the puddles, and from there I get on the tire and float down the river to the town. Something that is a lot of fun is that between puddles and puddles the river has some rapids, so hold on tight to the tire.
I must say that the waters of the San Cipriano river are crystal clear and transparent like few rivers I have seen in my life. The feeling of purity and freshness is unique. This is a river that makes you think how beautiful nature is, and how important it is to take care of it so that our children can enjoy places like this in the future.
Another of the attractions of San Cipriano is a guided tour through the jungle, where a native takes your group of friends to an internal location in the jungle where there is a smaller river but it has a waterfall and natural pool. It is a unique sensation to feel in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by so much jungle, giving you the opportunity to detoxify from so much technology that consumes us daily.
As for food, definitely if you like fish, you are in paradise, because the town’s restaurants are specialized, of course, in river fish that are caught locally and in sea fish that are brought from Buenaventura . It is possible in any case to find traditional food (for those who do not like fish) but due to the difficulty of access to the town you will have to pay a higher price.
In the visits I have made to San Cipriano, I have also had the opportunity to taste the breads from the only bakery in town and I must say that they are spectacular (as is well known in Colombia, the best bakeries are those in the towns) and the de San Cipriano is known for making coconut cakes, orange cakes and my favorites, the chontaduro cakes, which you should try because there is no way I can describe their flavor in words.
In conclusion, San Cipriano is an alternative tour, very economical, but very backpacking, for those who want to connect with nature and live a different experience, traveling in the witches and bathing in one of the purest and deepest rivers that can be found. in the country. So prepare your insecticide, your backpacks and embark on an adventure for San Cipriano.