For our penultimate stop in South America, we decided to go with a recommendation from Joe’s sister (cheers Grace!). She stayed at Finca Carpe Diem in Paso del Mango three years ago and said it was a great place to relax.
And she wasn’t wrong!
Paso del Mango is about an hour from Santa Marta on the Caribbean coast and it’s also pretty close to the popular backpacker town of Minca. The hostel itself is literally in the middle of nowhere and only 4×4 jeeps or mototaxis can handle the 20 minute dirt road drive to get there from Bonda, the nearest town. It was quite an experience taking a mototaxi with our big bags, but we managed to survive unscathed!
There’s a mix of private rooms, cabañas, and dorms at the hostel and we were so happy to find out that our 4-bed dorm was right next to the top swimming pool, which had amazing views over the mountains. We could pretty much roll right out of bed and into the pool!
We made good use of that pool during our 4 days at Carpe Diem. For a couple of days we just chilled out and enjoyed the sunshine. We also had plenty of time to explore the area around the hostel. And didn’t need to go far to find hidden gems – right across the road from the hostel there was a river with a waterfall and natural ‘jacuzzi’, perfect for a refreshing swim. All went well until Joe slipped and fell on a rock, spraining his arm (luckily it didn’t break, the mototaxi to the hospital would have been a bloody nightmare!).
Carpe Diem offer guided hikes in the hills around the hostel, so we tagged along with guide José one morning to hunt out the other local waterfalls. The hike took about 3 hours there and back and along the way José was great at pointing out interesting plants and animals. We even saw cacao plants! José opened a cacao fruit to show us the beans that could’ve one day be turned into chocolate. Not for these beans sadly, instead we ate the fruity coating on the beans, which was actually really sweet and juicy. I think I can safely say I am definitely a huge cacao fan, in all its forms.
We hiked to three waterfalls and treated ourselves to a swim in the last one. Definitely not the warmest water for a swim, but pretty nice after a hot and humid hike.
On our way back José pointed out the hostel’s next door neighbour – the cacao farm! He told us that tours of the farm include tasting the homemade chocolate and getting a chocolate facial. It sounded amazing and were super keen to visit! The next day we went along to meet the lovely owners and find out all about their farm.
They told us their plantation is small, just 6000 plants (!), for producing artisan chocolate. The plants are a mixture of stronger, more bitter black cacao, and sweeter white cacao. We also saw where they dry out the beans and got to have a go at shelling the beans and grinding them into a paste. They then add sugar and tadah, it’s chocolate!
After trying the finished product, having a hot chocolate, and some homemade chocolate cake (we ate ALL the chocolate), we had our chocolate facials. Joe looked especially hilarious with his chocolate facial spread carefully around his beard.
We’re not sure whether we got any huge benefits from the facial but it was fun to try it and it made for a good conversation starter when we arrived back at the hostel covered in chocolate.
As well as exploring Paso del Mango, we did a day trip to Tayrona National Park, which is only an hour away from Carpe Diem. We had a pretty crazy hike through swampy, muddy jungle and rivers that may or may not be infested with crocodiles (!) but it was worth it just to reach Cabo San Juan beach and enjoy our first swim in the Caribbean. So lush!
You can read all about our Tayrona adventure in our other blog post.
We loved relaxing in the sun at Carpe Diem hostel in Paso del Mango, such a nice penultimate stop of our South American honeymoon! Last stop – Cartagena!
Have you visited Colombia? Where are your favourite places to relax? Leave us a comment and let us know! Follow us on Instagram to keep up to date with our travel photos.