Travel the Colombia Coast the Green Way
The alluring city of Santa Marta is located on Colombia’s northeastern coast. Affectionately named ‘the pearl of the Colombian Caribbean,’ Santa Marta’s backdrop is one blessed by gorgeous natural scenery, a powerful draw to travellers.
Key to preserving the area’s beauty for future generations is a strong environmental conscience, like the one exhibited by Las Pleyades, a local tourism company operating in the region since 2008 and setting green trends with its eco-conscious transfer and ground transportation services on the Colombian coast. Now, Las Pleyades is bringing its local efforts to a larger market by partnering with Green Path Transfers, a new global environmentally friendly transfer service.
The tranquil beach of Bahia Concha is set against Tayrona National Park's mountains, the Sierra Nevada for which Santa Marta, Colombia, is famous
A Natural Transition
When Las Pleyades first got started, its main aim was to provide access to accommodations and tours in Santa Marta. According to Fabiola Duerig, the company’s co-founder, the decision to provide transfers as well came naturally, in response to customer interest and desires. Initially this was in the form of complimentary taxi rides; however, as demand increased over time, a key business opportunity was revealed.
Joining forces with Green Path Transfers was the next logical step for Las Pleyades: a chance to formalise its approach. “We became a Green Path Transfers partner because we realised that transportation would become one of our new core businesses,” Duerig acknowledged.
At present, Las Pleyades’ transfer services cover the entire Caribbean coast of Colombia, including travel between the main coastal cities of Santa Marta, Barranquilla, Cartegena, Buritaca, Palomino, Riohacha and La Guajira. The trips most frequently requested run from Santa Marta to Cartagena or Tayrona National Park.
Gilbert, seen here with his taxi overlooking the Santa Marta coastline, is a driver/guide who works frequently with Las Pleyades. Photo courtesy of Las Pleyades
A Local Travel Experience
Las Pleyades–operated transfers add to the well-rounded experience the company provides to travellers. Their two bilingual drivers often even serve as tour guides; they help in purchasing local goods or groceries and showing visitors around, in addition to offering lifts to hotels, guesthouses or fincas (country estates or ranches), so no one gets lost.
In a country with Colombia’s reputation, this level of attention promotes a vital element of security. “Although security in Colombia, and even more in Santa Marta, is now much better, we are still in Colombia and tourists have to be careful with whom they interact,” Duerig said. “So this transportation guarantees safety from the beginning for people who don’t like risks.”
Of course, visitors love to interact with and learn from locals, which is easy when in the company of a knowledgeable driver. The transfer itself becomes part of the travel experience. In the end, travellers get more than just a transfer service or tourist experience, but rather a local experience.
Drawing attention to the value and importance of sustainable travel is a fundamental goal for this Santa Marta transfer and tourism company. By offering green alternative transport, the team at Las Playedes inspires travellers to think about how they can help preserve the planet.
Tayrona National Park is a huge natural paradise with exuberant vegetation, endless white-sand beaches (like Cabo San Juan del Guia pictured above) and an old indigenous settlement. Photo courtesy of Las Pleyades
Las Pleyades’ fleet of vehicles includes four taxis, 10 14-passenger vans and a chiva (wooden traditional Colombian open bus) with 40 seats. All vehicles use compressed natural gas instead of normal gasoline whenever travelling in urban areas, and whenever possible and accessible in rural areas as well.
“Here in Santa Marta, the taxis work with natural gas – so it is cheaper, environmentally more responsible and the taxi driver spends less, so he gains more,” commented Duerig. “For us it is important that local people like to work with us and deliver the best possible service.”
For responsible travellers, ecotourists and adventure seekers, Duerig recommends two nearby must-see natural paradises, both easily reached by vehicle.
Tayrona National Park, a natural reserve of 60 square kilometres is a wonderland for birdwatchers and site of some of the best beaches in the world. It is located 40 minutes east of Santa Marta.
Minca, a small village in the Sierra Nevada mountains, sits in a coffee-producing region and provides a tranquil escape for birdwatching, waterfall exploration and relaxation in a lush environment.
Just five minutes from Santa Marta, the small fishing village of Taganga, seen here at sunset, is just one of many area attractions enjoyably reached by local taxi. Photo courtesy of Las Pleyades
Las Pleyades adds to the growing number of local partners that have joined ranks with Green Path Transfers. The Santa Marta–based company looks forward to expanding the reach of its responsible-transportation business to travellers from all over the world and learning lessons from other Green Path Transfers partners.
“I hope that we may expand this business as soon as possible and represent Green Path Transfers in Colombia as its first environmentally conscious ground transportation company,” said Duerig. “I hope for mutual learning between us and the other Green Path Transfers partners.”