Riohacha is the capital of the department of La Guajira. The city with 167,000 inhabitants is on the Caribbean coast and the land behind the town is rather desertic.
The 2 Terminale de Transporte. is 1 km south of the city centre at junction Caerera 11 and Avenida El Progreso. A taxi to the centre is COP$5000. Buses with Expreso Brasilia / Unitransco go:
- from Santa Marta: COP$15,000, 2½ hours (every half hour)
- from Barranquilla: COP$25,000, 5 hours (every half hour)
- from Cartagena: COP$35,000, 7 hours (every hour)
- from Maicao: COP$5,000, 1 hour
- from Bogota: COP$90,000, 18 hours (once a day)
Buses with COPetram go:
- from Bucaramanga: COP$80,000, 12 hours (8AM, 3:30PM)
- from Valledupar: COP$20,000, 3½ hours (8:15AM, 3:30PM)
- from Uribia: COP$12,000, 1 hour with a colectivo. In Uriba you can change buses for Cabo de la Vela.
Downtown Riohacha is very walkable. There's nothing much to see outside of the ten or so square blocks around the ocean. If you need to take some wheels, it's easy to hail a cab. Most fares in town run from COP$3,000 to 6,000.
- 1 Beach. Riohacha presents a much less touristy Colombian beach than what you will find in Barranquilla or Cartagena. The beach runs along the coast of the city and tends to be relatively crowded with locals and a smattering of Colombian tourists during the high season. You can also take a stroll out onto the pier where la virgen Mary awaits you at the end.
- 2 Colonial churches. There are a couple of colonial churches in the downtown area.
- 1 Cabo de la Vela. Use Riohacha as a starting point for a trip to the beautiful beach in the desert.
- 2 Punta Gallinas. Trips to the most northern point of Colombia with beautiful dunes, desert, exotic beaches and sacred indigenous culture can be organized in Riohacha.
A very good place to buy Wayu artesany, mochilas in particular.
There are a string of bars and small clubs along the ocean which serve Aguila on tap and a few imports.
There is a surprisingly wide variety of accommodation in Riohacha. The most expensive places tend to be located next to the beach, with a series of slightly dated mega-hotels. Rooms here can run up to COP$200,000 in the high season. Expect discounts of up to 60% in the off season or for rooms that do not face the ocean.
On the cheaper end of the scales, rooms can be as little as COP$15,000 at small bunkhouses and guest hostels further away from the beach. Try just east of the bus station. Be warned that many of these places cater to internal refugees displaced from Colombia's long drug wars. You will probably be sharing with some (mostly friendly) long term guests.
- 1 Bona Vida Hostel, Calle 3 #10-10 (from the bus station take Carrera 11 and walk straight to the beach until you arrive at Calle 3 (La Sede Bar), turn right; the hostel is at the end of the block), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 1PM, check-out: 11AM. Bona Vida Hostel opened for business in February 2016. It is one block from the beach and the main plaza, and about 15 minutes walk from the bus station. Run by a great couple, they can tell you how to get to Cabo de la Vela and Punto Gallinas and can call one of the colectivos to pick you up from the door to take you to Uribia. Free breakfast and coffee, kitchen, fast wifi, common room, lockers. COP$30,000.
- 2 El Castillo del Mar. Great German-owned hotel on the west side of the beach. At the hotel there is a branch of Kai Ecotravel, who was the first offering La Guajira tours for the big public. Double COP$90,000.
- 3 Casa Patio Bonita. Opened in 2013 by a Canadian expat and his Colombian wife. The different rooms are around a nice courtyard, where the breakfast is being served. The owners help you with organizing tours to La Guajira. Double from COP$100,000.
- Hotel International. Single with a fan and private bathroom (COP$20,000). Wifi available in reception. Opposite the market, 3 blocks east of the bus terminal, take a left just after the park. The hotel is tucked between a few jewelry stores, it might be easier to find at night as the shops that flank the entrance are closed.