Sometimes an escape to nature like in El Morro is just what you need to recharge yourself and your senses. According to a recent study in The Journal of Positive Psychology, being surrounding by and noticing nature makes you happier and equates to a “general sense of connectedness (to other people, to nature and to life as a whole).”
In Barranquilla, despite its coastal tropical feel, the traffic and chaos of the city may make you want to increase your “sense of connectedness” every once in a while. Luckily there are a few places in the area to go and to get back to our roots. One of the more interesting trips to do this is to go hiking in the jungle of El Morro, where in the center lies a petroglyph called La Piedra Pintada, which was carved by the indigenous Mokaná people more than 900 years ago.
El Morro, a corregimiento of the municipality of Tubará is located on via 90A (AKA via Santa Veronica-Puerto Colombia), about 10 km from Puerto Colombia. You can get there in bus, which costs 5 thousand pesos each way, from Carrera 46 with Calle 100, or in car if you would like (there is a toll booth that charges 11 thousand pesos each way). The entrance to El Morro from via 90A is not so conveniently marked with a worn-off sign as seen in the photo, so you may want to watch your GPS. I arrived by bus and I missed the stop by about a half of a kilometer.
Beginning the Journey
Starting up the dirt road to get to El Morro, a calming feeling immediately came over me from the change in environment. I noticed the flora, birds, and butterflies and realized how much I missed being out of the city. For your walk, you will want to follow the signs to the town plaza which consists of a makeshift football field and a bright blue and yellow marked estadero. You can buy some snacks and water at the estadero if you forgot to bring them, before you make your way up the dirt road at the northwest of the plaza. Along the way you will encounter the very kind townspeople who are happy to see visitors in their little part of the world.
You will walk up the tree lined road for about five minutes which suddenly opens up into a majestic view of the region, with a bright white statue of the Virgin Mary in front. You can stop there and admire the expansiveness of the land and the sea to the west.
Starting the trail
From there, directly behind you is the entrance to the trail which leads to “el cielo.” Being that it is rather inconspicuous and looks more like a hole in a fence than the entrance to a trail, I had my doubts that it would lead to where I wanted to go but I went for it.
My fears were soon assuaged when I saw some locals walking down the trail and they were happy again to see a visitor and to confirm the route. The trail winds and climbs over dirt and rock until it reaches a family’s front yard who surprisingly doesn’t mind that people cross their property on their trek to find the stone.
Walk to the road behind the house and turn left. Continue until you find a sign that says “El Cielo” on the left and you can again admire the view. Turn around and continue down the road and you’ll see a sign marking the trail to La Piedra Pintada and a barbed wire fence that you can open and enter.
From there, follow the trail and eventually you’ll encounter the beautiful sights and sounds of the jungle. If you are lucky you will see the red howler monkeys, who make a distinct eerie howling sound. If you want to see or hear them you need to be as quiet as possible or you will frighten them away.
Continue along the trail and you’ll see a sign that marks that La Piedra Pintada is near. After this sign you will come to an embankment and turn right. From there you will have to climb or jump down the ledge to see what you came for, La Piedra Pintada. Congrats, you made it! Just be careful not to walk on the carvings so you don’t wear them off for future visitors.
From here you can explore more of the jungle or go to a rustic, old-world feel area of town called El Sanctuario with brick roads, more beautiful views and a cathedral. It’s a short hike, but definitely worth the trip to experience a bit of the allure of the magnificent wilderness in the region.