In the slideshow above are some photos I took in two different paradises. The first, Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona, is a well-known protected nature area on the Northern coast of Colombia. The jungle on the Caribbean is frequented by a thousand or two tourists a day. The most famous beach is Cabo San Juan, which is a place of surpassing beauty, and everyone with a backpack in Colombia knows about it. Getting there takes two and a half hours hiking through humid jungle, and people pay lots of money to sleep on the ground in sweltering tents or in crowded huts full of hammocks. Every threadbare hammock within earshot of the beach is booked. The toilets are rare and adorned with lines of dancing people in the morning. Few complain.
Nearby is the second paradise I visited, Minca, a charming village set inland and above the stifling heat of the jungle. About one thousand locals live clustered in the picturesque town located 20 km south from the coastal hub of Santa Marta and 0.75 km up in elevation from the sea. Its beauty and tranquility attract backpackers looking to get off the beaten path and take bone shaking rides up unpaved roads to untended guesthouses. The climate and peaceful surroundings are becoming well-known beyond the gringos and birdwatchers that currently augment the quiet community. The locals are aware and capitalizing. Along every passable dirt and rock road there are new guesthouses being slung up, the entrepreneurial residents ignoring the impotent signage of local noise restrictions aimed at protecting the extraordinary wildlife that cohabit this valley with the people seeking a more prosperous life. My guess is that when it becomes easy to get there, it will have changed.