Our Colombian Introduction, Mompox

Our arrival in Cartagena, Colombia marked our exit from the narrowing funnel of Central America and the beginning of a vast new canvas – South America. Whilst consulting some maps of Colombia, we were starting to realise the size of the place. The national borders through Central America are to the scale of the departments of Colombia. This was going to take some time!

We were both itching to get back into the cool climate of the mountains, but we first had to tackle 550km of lowlands between Cartagena and Bucamaranga. Wanting to avoid the relatively expensive buses in Colombia, we decided to try to grin and bear the scorching heat. So we rode south out of Cartagena towards Bucaramanga with plans to visit the historical city of Mompox enroute.

We had heard interesting things about Santa Cruz de Mompox (aka Mompós) – notably, the well preserved colonial buildings which seem to be frozen in time, in part, because it is difficult to access by the average tourist. Once an important trading post, Mompox later fell out of favour after the natural riverbanks changed. The island on which it is located is like a vast water world, penned in by the massive Magdalena and Cauca rivers. The whole region is often flooded after heavy rains, necessitating frequent hopping between canoe and motorcycle to get around.

It’s easy to get pretty comfortable staying in Mompox. The pace of life is slow, traffic is (for the most part) limited to bicycles and scooters and the momposinos are incredibly friendly. We’d planned to stay for one rest day, but this quickly turned into four before we could finally drag ourselves back onto the bikes.

In recent years, there have been a few travel articles touting Mompox as a hidden gem, yet to be discovered. We feared we might be too late, but we were pleasantly surprised to find that its charm has yet to be signficantly transformed. The handful of tourists that we did encounter were either Colombian or more intrepid backpackers.

Tour In Tune-2013-11-08-054.jpg

The grandest and most well kept buildings are located along banks of the Magdalena.

Tour In Tune-2013-11-08-071.jpg

Recent and ongoing projects to promote tourism are visible throughout the town, yet the current trickle of travellers is still relatively small.

Tour In Tune-2013-11-08-076.jpg

The plaza outside La Iglesia de la Concepción has some nice features worth exploring.

Tour In Tune-2013-11-08-081.jpg

Calle de San Juan holds well preserved buildings with strikingly rich ironwork on the windows.

Tour In Tune-2013-11-08-083.jpg

An example of the very stylish street signs throughout town

Tour In Tune-2013-11-07-045.jpg

Unfortunately, we just missed the Mompox Jazz Festival in October.

Tour In Tune-2013-11-07-048.jpg

Plaza Santo Domingo is another place to go at night for people watching, chatting to locals and sampling street food.

Tour In Tune-2013-11-07-042.jpg

The cemetery is strangely populated by hordes of orphan kittens…

Tour In Tune-2013-11-06-012-2.jpg

One of our dorm mates, an architecture student from Bogatá, rescued one of the more pathetic ones…

Tour In Tune-2013-11-06-017-2.jpg

…and decided to give it a bath.

Tour In Tune-2013-11-07-034.jpg

Mompox is known for its precious gold and silver filigree jewellery.

Tour In Tune-2013-11-07-036.jpg

The fine detail is remarkable, a test of patience and steady hands.

La Casa Amarilla

Without a doubt, La Casa Amarilla is one of the best options in town, offering a range of accommodation, from dorm beds for $8 USD to master suites for $125 USD. The dorms include access to an incredibly well kitted kitchen, comfy rocking chairs and WiFi throughout. It’s situated on the Magdalena river bank within close walking (or cycling) distance from the centre of town.


The top floor patio offers nice views of the river and surrounding buildings.

Tour In Tune-2013-11-09-084.jpg

A busy and cheerful team seem to clean around the clock; everything is always spotless!

Tour In Tune-2013-11-09-086.jpg

There’s plenty of space to spread out on the traditional Momposino rocking chairs.

Getting There

Tour In Tune-2013-11-06-007-2.jpg

In order to reach Mompox, we boarded a chalupa (long river boat) – basically a river chicken bus, jammed with sweaty bodies, riding low and slow… and very cheap. We crossed gushing Magdalena from Magangue to La Bodega for $1 each including the bikes.

Tour In Tune-2013-11-06-009-2.jpg

Getting to shore without a dock was a little chaotic, as all the passengers were eager to get going. From Bodega, it was a 40km ride on flat, (intermittently) paved roads, surrounded on all sides by a surreal water world.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: