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.
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.