Colombia’s northernmost point, Guajira Peninsula has a hostile desert climate that has kept it largely isolated since colonial times. As a result it’s one of those special places where independent travellers can still feel as if they’re leaving fresh tracks. Some 240km long and no more than 50km wide, the barren peninsula is empty except for the semi-nomadic Wayuu, a beguiling mix of desert and sea, a smugglers’ haven that English pirates once tried to conquer. More challenging to explore than the rest of the Caribbean coast, the Guajira Peninsula rewards those who make the effort with the end-of-the-world feel of Cabo de la Vela and Punta Gallinas. Cabo de la Vela is a remote Wayuu fishing village, 180km northwest of Riohacha, the capital of the Guajira Peninsula that in itself is 175km northeast of Santa Marta. On the journey to Cabo you pass through a landscape of sand, baked mud huts of the Wayuu and goats grazing under the sparse shade of the acacia trees.

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