Pacific Coast map
El Valle, Bahia Solano
I thought I'd died and gone to heaven when I came across this place. This must be one of the most spectacular
places in all of Colombia and thats saying something. It seems to get better everytime I go. My latest trip was
the 15th April, 2006. It gets very few foreign tourists, perhaps one a month. You can only fly or boat in.

Bahia Solano is a town of 10,000 people, mostly of African decent on the Pacific Coast of Colombia about two
hundred kilometres due west of Medellin or 100 km's south of the Panamanian border. There are also several
hundred people of indigenous decent scattered around the town and upstream living along the rivers. The town
is at a very strategic point for the Colombian army and they have a sizeable presence there. The towns claim to
fame is some of the best deep sea fishing in the world. Black and blue marlin in particular. Also it is a major
way-point for humpback whales who come with there young between the months of July and October. In the
past the area has had its problem with left-wing guerilla groups. However those problems are not really an
issue these days. Its safe and blissfully devoid of tourists. Go now because they will/ are building a road and if
you build it they will come.
the bays to the north of Bahia Solano
main street Bahia Solano
the town of Bahia Solano
El Valle is an even smaller town of 3000 people connected by a rough road to Bahia Solano. It is the only road Colombia's Pacific coast. El Valle
has a much nicer beach in El Alemjal which has several accommodation options. The town is pretty cool and extremely laid back. Again it is very well
protected with military all over the place. Its a three hour walk by road from Bahia Solano to El Valle or you can catch hitch a ride on one of the jeeps
or the bus which goes twice daily to the village. El Valle is a very relaxed place.
The Bar, El Mirador This bar special mention. This bar has a location and view to die for. I'd go all the way to this isolated part of the Pacific coast
of Colombia just to sip a few beers in the bar and watch the sunset. Its breathtaking and its not often I use those words. The bar was set up eight
years ago by an elderly Antioquean guy. There will not be much happening if you go there during the week... it could even be closed. If so bring
your own beer and sit up there and enjoy the amazing views. At the weekend there is normally a bit more happening and the army also use the bar
as a lookout for bad guys, of which there are none at present.
There are a few ways to get to Bahia Solano, from where you can make your way to El Valle.

option 1: the airline Satena flys daily direct from Medellin, Bogota and Cali. The price from Medellin is COP 400.000. The Medellin airline, ADA also
flys daily from Medellin to Bahia Solano by way of Quibdo.
option 2: fast boat from Buenaventura. Leaves three or so times a week taking six hours and costing COP 120.0 00.
option 3: slow boat from Buenaventura. Cargo boats leave a couple of times a week depending on your luck and cost 80/90.000 COP. The journey
is between 24 and 36 hours.
option 4: there are also boats from Panama going to Bahia Solano sporadically. but be warned arriving this way could lead to a big fine with the
immigration police  once in Colombia.
option 5: a more adventurous option would be to take the bus from either Medellin or Pereira to Quibdo, the capital of Choco province. The bus trip
is another story and is not entirely safe or to be recommended. From Quibdo you can wait for a plane to the coast. I have always wanted to trek the
50-80 kms from Quibdo to the coast but this cannot be simple. Its the wettest place on earth. One day perhaps
Bahia Solano
Hotel Bahia-simple with television and bathroom costs 20.000 COP per person
Cabo Marzo-a home-stay type option owned by a very friendly Colombian/American couple. The guy, Enrique is the authority on the coast with
regard to deep-sea fishing and diving. 60.000 pesos per night. or more or less including three very nice meals.
Hotel Los Delfines- room with bathroom for 20.000 pesos. Ask for room with window there are only three. The other rooms are not so good

El Valle
El Almejal-the best hotel around this area. Between 120.000 and 160.000 pesos per night with food.
Hotel Playa Alegre-I stayed in this hotel on my last visit. Its a very nice ten cabin place set on the best part of the beach. The cost is 80.000COP a
night including three good meals. Its a lot of money but its worth it. You get your own cabin with bathroom and a little balcony. The staff are very nice
and its a great location.
Posada Villa Maga-A good reasonably priced option at 30,000 a night, with private bath for your own cabin a few metres from the beach and
25.000 pesos a night sharing bathroom. This is a ten minute walk along the beach from El Valle and close to Playa Alemjal..
A cabana at Playa Alegre Hotel
Nothing would be the best answer to that. This must be one of the best places in the world to do absolutely nothing and get
right away from it all. For those who do want to do a little now and then there are a few options. The number one reason
most people come to Bahia Solano and El Valle is to see the whales which come in numbers between July and October. You
can watch them from the beach or join a tour and go and see them close up. The best place to see them in particular is
Ensenada de Utria, thirty minutes boat ride south of El Valle. Its a big bay where the whales play around in. Depending on
how many people you  can get on the boat costs could be anything from 40-200.000 pesos.
Photos of the Hotel Playa Alegre in El Valle
How to get there
Where to stay
What to do
the army have a very big presence around Bahia Solano and El Valle
You could also rent a boat and go fishing. The guy I was on the boat with to the bay mentioned above trawled all the way there and caught two
beautiful fish
UPDATE 17th July/ 07 : I just come back from five days on the coast again. Two spent in Bahia Solano and three in El Valle. Thats one odd place.
A good portion of the population is drinking every day from eight or nine in the morning till they drop. Every day without fail. It's hard to imagine
where all the money comes from because there is not much industry out there. On the morning I was returning to Medellin I went looking around
town for some fish to buy and take home. The first three fish wholesalers told me there were no fish around and that the fishermen had better things
to do. Odd. Better things mean they get up at 4 every morning and spend ten hours rowing or motoring around in there boats in search of the famed
'white marlin'. What is white marlin you ask. There are Black Marlin, Striped Marlin but White I have not heard of that before. Well white marlin is
cocaine. 250kg packets of it floating around in the ocean. The Pacific Coast is a big transit point for Colombia's cocaine traffickers. Fast boats pick
up the stuff in river mouths and small villages along the coast and aim for Central America. If they get intercepted by the navy or the like they dump
the stuff. If a villager happens to find one of these packets floating in the ocean or washed up on the beach he is in line for a US$30,000 payday.
Thats a good year on the rum and beer for him and his mates. Its the wild west.

In El Valle we along with several others went out on a day boat trip with the driver, Antonio, for 50.000 pesos each he took us ten kms south to
Ensenada de Utriia and the island and beach Playa Blanca, beautiful swimming and we saw several whales, including one jumping fully out of the
water. Whales are most likely to be seen between July and November.
Bahia is a nice little town to chill out in for a few days. I prefer to stay in Cabo Marzo with Nancy and Enrique the owners. Great people and they
really look after you. It may well seem a little pricey at 50-60.000 per person but its worth it. That includes three very nice meals, two of fish, free
internet and very comfortable surroundings. They will tell you everything there is to do in the area. There is a nice waterfall to walk to, up a river
about twenty minutes in total from the hostal. There is also a nice swimming hole where a waterfall meets the ocean a two minutes walk past the pier.
An hour and a halfs walk along the beach at low tide to the north and cross over the ridge and you will come to Mecano beach.
Basically Bahia Solano is a place to relax, chill out and enjoy the rain, sea  and waterfalls. From January to April you will most likely have sun every
day all day. The rest of the year is a bit of a lottery. But most likely you will get sun every day.

Hotel Balboa Plaza - this is an interesting little anomaly. Bulity 22 years ago by Don Pablo Escobar with millions in drug money it is very out of place.
Go in and have a beer, 3000 pesos and check out the opulent surroundings.
What to do
Getting away
From Bahia Solano you can get to Nuqui which is about 60 km south. There is transport, check for times, on tuesday, thursday and saturday. Takes
about two hours and costs 50.000 pesos.

To Buenaventura - Monday and Thursday are the scheduled departure dates and the fast lancha trip should take over five hours and cost 120.000
pesos

To Buenaventura - Saturday 4pm. This date and time is very likely to change but on this date the slow boat to Buenaventura is supposed to leave
takes 28 hours and costs 80.000 pesos. Includes very simple meals and a bunk bed. Quite an experience
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