Photo of the Week: A Buritaca Sunset in Santa Marta, Colombia

  • Image by Carlos Martín, text by Fabiola Duerig, whl.travel local connection in Santa Marta
  • 13 December 2009

A Buritaca sunset is unique. Here, a local child basks in its glory while walking along the river of the same name that flows into the Caribbean Sea.

potw 2009-12-13 - santamarta-buritaca

Buritaca is located at the base of the northern foothills of Colombia’s Sierra Nevada, 50 minutes from Santa Marta. In recent years it has become a popular tourist destination; travellers of all kinds – both domestic and foreign – have fallen in love with the crystal-clear waters of its estuary mouth, the tongue of perfect beach and the magical surrounding landscape.

Buritaca also has a rich history dominated by its strategic location used for centuries by local indigenous groups. It was the centre of the ancient Tairona civilisation, which thrived along the edges of the Buritaca, Don Diego and Guachaca rivers. As their culture was as well developed as their sense of rightful belonging, the Buritaca tribe was amongst those who fiercely resisted Spanish conquest int eh 16th and 17th centuries.

The ruins of the ancient Tairona settlement, rediscovered in only 1976, were first named Buritaca-200. Today, although the indigenous people refer to the site as Teyuna, tourists call it the Ciudad Perdida or Lost City.

Located between 900 and 1200 metres above sea level in the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta on the right side of the Buritaca River, the Lost City is a complicated system of interconnected constructions, stone-paved pathways, stairs and walls set on a series of terraces once used as the foundations for ceremonial centres, houses and food stores. Structures have been discovered across an area of approximately 35 hectares, a site now managed by the Colombian Institute of Anthropology as an Archaeological National Park. As such, it has become one of the most important tourist attractions of Santa Marta and, in 2007, the Lost City (or Teyuna) was voted fifth on the list of the Seven Wonders of Colombia.

Buritaca is still today also an important place for the Koguis tribe, descendants of the original Tairona people who try to maintain their traditional culture in spite of the modernisation of Santa Marta. As Buritaca is the main point of access to the Sierra Nevada for them, it is one of the strategic cultural points where they perform their rituals in honour of Mother Nature.


Visit the whl.travel Flickr photostream for a set of more pictures of Sant Marta.


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beaches, children, Colombia, indigenous culture, local knowledge, photo of the week, South America, whl.travel,

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