A second trip to Bahai Solano was another whole adventure. A jungle trek (to look at some property for sale), a visit to a Turtle Sanctuary/Release, and several days in the local village of Bahai Solano.
Liberación de Tortuga (Turtle Release)
First you have to get to a small Pacific town called Bahia Solano. It’s a middle of nowhere Pacific town which is well known by Colombians who want to go to the beach. This requires taking a regional airline from Medellin to Mutis airport (flight info below). Airline options are grupo San German, satena, and Ada. None of them are on kayak and flights don’t run every day, you’ll have to check them all.
From Bahia Solano, you have to get transport over a very f***ed up road to El Valle. There is a road past the airport to get to El Valle. No airport there, so it’s technically more remote, but it seemed to be more modern/developed. More cars, fewer tuk-tuks. More care and concern into the aesthetics of properties, not just trying to get by. We didn’t spend much time here though, just passed through. The road is a nightmare, lots of mud, ditches, bumps, etc. I’m surprised we never got stuck.
Once in El Valle, we were met by a guide who walked us to the entrance to the beach. We got on the back of motorcycles and were driven 5km down the beach to Mama Orbe’s. This is a story all by itself – motorcycle broke down, had to walk, etc. Fun stuff.
At Mama Orbe’s Eco farm and hostel you can go just for the day, or stay overnight, collect eggs and release baby turtles. They practice conservation, and charge people to release to help fund their operation. High season for egg laying is July to December.
If you stay at Mama Orbe’s or locally in El Valle, you have the opportunity to see the Mama turtles at night, but they only come on shore at night. If you go early January, you may still get to see them. They do lay eggs year-round, but not every night outside of high season (July to December). Early Jan though, you might have good luck.
Mama Orbe’s is very basic. No running water, just collected rain water. Limited electricity, no cell service at all. We just went for a few hours and paid for lunch and a turtle release. Short version, they collect the turtle eggs from the beach to protect them from predators, wait for them to hatch, keep them for a few days so they can gain a bit more strength, then release them. It’s super cool, so happy I did it. 11/10, would release again.
Staying in Bahai Solano
We spent the weekend in town of Bahai Solano. There’s not much to do. You can find fishing charters here, or you can drink, or eat… that’s about it. Really, not much to do.
The food in town is the basic local fare of fish and rice. It’s pretty much the same meal every time. Fish, plantains, rice, and soup. Vegetables are rare. Try the Cazuela at any place that offers it, it’s a seafood stew and it’s amazing.
Hunter states that “I don’t think it’s worth it to stay in Bahia Solano itself, there’s not much to do except drink and find a fishing charter.” However, I personally really enjoyed it for a couple of days. I don’t recommend more than 2 nights here or you’ll be bored silly.
Bahai Solano is a fishing village
I’ve always found fishing villages to be ‘gems’. I think this comes from living around the lakes in Northern Indiana and having fishing as a part of day to day life.
Take a walk to the waterside in the evenings and you can see the local fishermen bringing in their daily catch. From Swordfish to Ahi, it’s a great photo opportunity and an enjoyable way to interact with the locals.
Bahai Solano is NOT for the Digital Nomad / Nomadic Professional.
There is no hot water anywhere, limited cell signal, sketchy internet at best. So don’t expect to work while there. It would however, make a great spot for a yoga retreat, or a writers weekend getaway.
Other tips – There’s only (1) ATM in Bahia Solano and most places are cash-only. The ATM can sometimes run out of money. Bring extra cash. You can exchange USD but at a premium.
This is not a trip for the Faint of Heart
If you like Four Seasons and St. Regis resorts, this may not be for you. You’re going to be dirty, everything you own is going to smell. You will miss hot water like Lindsay Lohan misses cocaine. But it’s worth all of the discomfort, it’s such an amazing place, untouched by so much of modern man. And it’s only a matter of time before there’s a Hilton in town as Colombia gains stability and the gentrified Pacific coast becomes more appealing, so go now!
- – Tortugas Del Pacifico Info – It’s important to note that Mama Orbe does not have service so all communications go through a family member that lives in Medellin so if you have last minute questions or need local assistance once you arrive, it may not be easy/quick.
- Estimated cost is around $500,000 COP round trip, prices vary.
- Mapara Crab the eco-resort (Feel free to tell Jose I recommended it, he’s awesome!)
- Pablo Escobar’s hotel: Hotel Balboa Inn in Bahia Solano
- Mama Orbe’s Eco Hostel
Additional Costs $38,000 COP in tourism tax and airport fees