JURADÓ, CHOCÓ, COLOMBIA
WHY DID WE GO TO JURADÓ?
To be honest, we still aren’t sure why we went to Juradó. We had opened enough coconuts in El Valle and wanted to explore the area. We wanted to see something different. We wanted to know.
Surely there’s more to life than opening coconuts on the beach…
It is an interesting question.
I will take you through our thought process in deciding to go and what to do.
Then you make up your own mind if you want to visit as well.
***NOTE*** check out the comments section at the bottom of the post after your have finished reading the article as some friendly people have provided a bit more information about Juradó and travelling from Colombia to Panama on the Pacific Coast.
THE INITIAL CONVERSATION
This is roughly how we came to a decision to go to Juradó:
Us: Are there any nearby beach towns that we can visit?
Us: What’s can we do there?
Dario: You can swim, explore the town, and there are waterfalls to visit. Pretty much every thing that you are doing here in El Valle.
Us: Sounds good.
Bam, decision made.
JURADÓ, WHERE THE BLOODY HELL ARE YA?
Juradó is the last beach town before the border of Panama and Colombia on the Pacific Coast. It is very remote and the only way to access it is by ‘lancha’. The ‘lanchas’ leave two times a week, so it is good to organize your trip in advance so you don’t get stranded.
OK, SO WE KNOW WHERE IT IS. HOW DO WE GET TO JURADÓ?
The trip from Bahía Solano takes about 2.5 hours, when the sea is calm. Even with the sea being calm it was a bumpy ride. The driver did not slow down. All I suggest is bring a cush for your tush.
The ‘lancha’ cost 70,000CLP one way.
When we ‘arrived’ to Juradó, the lancha waited at sea behind the waves of a surf beach. Hmmm, when we asked the driver he pointed that we were going to ‘beach ourselves’ here.
Brilliant, I thought.
The driver managed to take us in surprisingly smoothly and we carried our belongings onto shore.
We knew we had landed somewhere remote if the only way to arrive was to beach ourselves.
FIRST, THINGS FIRST. WHERE DO WE STAY IN JURADÓ?
The next point of call, with our backpacks on, we went in search for somewhere to stay.
There are two options, both hotels. A room with two single beds cost 60,000CLP a night. That’s the cheaper option. The best word to describe it was probably ‘moist’.
We quickly learnt that Juradó is a town not yet set up for tourists.
It had a high military presence due to being the last town before the Panama border and the known FARC activity in the area.
NEXT, LET’S EXPLORE, LET’S FIND SOMETHING TO DO…
Asking around, we got pointed in two directions, both of them being the opposite ways of the beach.
THE BLUE PILL
You can go right down the beach until you hit an outlet (or inlet, which ever way you want to look at it). If you pass this outlet/inlet you can keep walking up the beach to some waterfalls.
Problem is you need to cross the outlet/inlet. Hard to do with camera equipment. We at least went for a swim and within 1 minute of being in the water Pat had sliced his foot open on some jagged rocks.
THE RED PILL
You can go left and walk down the beach for about an hour before you hit another outlet / inlet.
At this point we discovered we were on an island.
Both inlets/outlets form a river and enclose the town of Juradó from behind. So if you wanted to take a walk in the jungle, again you will need to cross the river.
That sums up the extent of our explorations. Next, we walked around town, climbed some trees and collected some extremely under ripe mangos, which we continued to eat because it was an activity.
We then passed time by sitting in the beachfront park and read until we heard a coconut fall from the tree. Which, we managed to open up with this knife and eat. A hard feat if you have ever tried opening a coconut.
We also discovered a few stalls that sell coconut ice creams, which we proceeded to eat six a day for the next three days.
SO WHAT ABOUT THE LOCALS?
Given that Juradó is so remote, I was curious to see what the locals were like and how they would react to us exploring their town.
To be honest, they didn’t really care too much. They saw us, and continued with their way of life. The locals were incredibly friendly, but other than that they didn’t really ask us any questions as to why we were there, unlike other small towns we have visited.
It wasn’t until our third day of being there, then we started getting noticed more and people started asking us questions – ‘what are we doing here?’ At this point we learnt that tourists don’t come here to ‘visit’ and ‘explore’, tourists come here only to pass by, either from or to Panama.
After they realized we were there to explore they opened up more, especially the curiosity of the kids.
WAS IT WORTH THE TRAVEL?
So now the big question, was it worth travelling from El Valle, where we were opening up coconuts, to Juradó, where we opened up more coconuts?
It was great to see and get to know, and it is a beautiful destination.
However, I still haven’t explained the journey back…
After the fourth day in Juradó, we were ready to leave yet still dreading the journey back. We had our cushions ready for the 2.5 hour high velocity boat journey.
The good news, the boat had it’s own cushions.
The bad news, it was pouring down rain.
I feel that ‘pouring’ is an understatement. The boat was full and by the time we got on we were already saturated.
From the river the overly full ‘lancha’ started the journey out to sea. When we arrived at the outlet, half the boat had to get onto another boat to reduce the weight to ensure we would make it out.
After they had finished the transfer and went out to sea, our boat engine died.
After ten minutes, the driver got the boat working and took us over the surf. I say ‘over’ because we were airborne a few times.
Boats prefer to be in the water, hence the engine died again. This happened a few more times later as we
We transferred the remaining passengers back on to the boat and waited until it got fixed.
At this point it’s worth mentioning that the sea was rough and yes it was still raining. The boat had a cover, but that didn’t protect us from the horizontal rain smacking into our face. It felt like being a target at a world championship dart competition.
The good thing about the rain was that it disguised our tears.
The lancha had to stop three times on the way back to Bahía Solano. Twice in two different inlets so we could breathe and tell the person next to us that we loved them and our final words we wanted them to pass onto our famliy. The other time was to refuel, because we had burnt too much climbing waves.
It wasn’t all bad. At one point the sun shone through and touched our faces. It’s funny how in moments like these how good something like that feels.
We also saw dolphins jumping through the waves next to us. Showing off.
Now that is my recount of the boat ride. I have asked Pat, my travel companion at the time and here is what he said:
The worst experience to which I can compare any other unpleasant experience for the rest of my life.
Summing up, Juradó is a place to pass through and not a destination. If you were heading to Panama by the Pacific Coast, sure, stop in, eat some fish empanadas, play pool, run around town and eat some coconut ice cream. Don’t leave the perfect haven of El Valle as you can do everything there and save yourself a painful journey and the money spent on it as well.
Still the best fish empanadas I have had in my life.
Looking to travel somewhere else in Colombia?
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