Sail the Magdalena River in 2024!
One of the best parts about working in travel is the chance to be privy to new great destinations for my clients to experience. Before the world shut down due to Covid, I learned that the Magdalena River in Colombia would be an upcoming river-cruise destination. Fast-forward a bit and I'm excited to pass on that it’s happening.
River cruisers, be among the first to sail this magnificent waterway in South America in 2024! Here’s why you’ll love it.
Colombia is captivating on so many levels, enticing discerning travelers with its colorful culture. When you sail the Magdalena, you’ll witness how native cultures and Spanish influences have been woven together throughout the tapestry of history. Explore Cartagena, or la ciudad amurallada (the walled city), fortified in an attempt to ward off pirate attacks.
Visit the colonial town of Mompox, where Spaniards kept their gold safe from said pirates, and where they still make fine filigree jewelry. And in Palenque, experience the first “free town” in the Americas, where Spaniards and former slaves agreed on a Capitulation of Peace in 1603, and where the people of Palenque were officially freed from slavery by a Royal Decree in 1713 by the Spanish crown. Today, it’s a UNESCO Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
Throughout your Magdalena River cruise, you’ll have numerous opportunities to indulge in local Colombian treats, from capa cheese (try it in Mompox while you’re jewelry shopping), to butifarra (a savory sausage) and chorizo (spicy sausage), to the many lemon- and pineapple-infused desserts favored here.
In Palenque, shop the market stalls of the women who sell goods while holding baskets of treats and tropical fruit atop their heads. Try coconut cake, tamarind balls, sugared papaya and more. And don’t leave the country without sitting down to enjoy posta negra cartagenera, rooted in Cartagena and offering up a savory blend of meat, herbs, onions, garlic and a special sauce.
The birders among you will be overjoyed by Colombia’s 1,930 species of feathered friends (that’s more than we have in the United States and Canada combined!). Look, especially, for the endangered cianeguo hummingbird, or sapphire-bellied hummingbird, found only in the mangroves of Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta and the adjacent arid scrublands.
See if you can spot the Northern screamer, or chauna chavaria, that feeds on aquatic plants on and along the river. And keep those binoculars trained to the trees and sky for toucans, eagles, quails, tinamou and others.
A Fantastic Fortress
Those with a penchant for history will want to take a tour of the UNESCO-designated San Felipe Castle in Cartagena. This magnificent hilltop fortress defended the city against the French and British Empires throughout the 17th to 19th centuries. It’s also where you’ll get some of the very best views of the beautiful bay.
While you’re in the city, stop by the Gold Museum to see the ancient gold artifacts that catapulted Cartagena onto the world stage and cemented it as a principal seat of Spanish colonial power. Move on to the Vaults, which served as a garrison and prison during the Spanish Empire and today brim with vibrant artisanal shops.
Ready to move to the beat of vallenato, sip a steaming cup of Colombian coffee and explore the delightful neighborhood of Getsemani in Cartagena?
Let’s reserve you a spot on one of the first river cruises on the Magdalena! Reach out by booking a consultation through my Services page!