Casa GalavantaSierra Nevada, Colombia
Casa Galavanta was formerly a private house but now operates as a wonderfully secluded and peaceful lodge in the heart of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range. Guests are met by a fluent English-speaking customer host in a private vehicle, and driven to this charming wooden lodge at the end of a long unsurfaced road, which suddenly appears in an elevated position perched in a clearing of the cloud forest. This is a great place to relax and unwind away from the coastal heat.
There are just three bedrooms and a comfortable dining / sitting room area, with large glazed windows leading out on to a deck area, with magnificent views out over the coastal plain and sea. At night, the lights of Santa Marta twinkle in the distance. The chef runs a well-known and respected local restaurant and the food is exceptional. Many ingredients are grown at the lodge and guests can discuss the meals and the source of ingredients with him.
By day the cloud can roll in off the coastal plain and dramatically envelop the lodge, often receding back down the mountain in the afternoon and early evening. The cloud forest is home to an incredible diversity of flora and fauna, and bird watching in particular is a major activity here. Indeed, the Sierra Nevada and Tayrona National Parks stretch across all the climate zones from sea level on the Caribbean Coast up to snow capped mountains in excess of 5,000 meters high. As a result, the region has one of the richest variety of birds to be found in South America, with no less than 628 species, 20 of which are endemic to the region. Three to look out for are the Crimson Crested Woodpecker, the Santa Marta Parakeet and the Sapphire-bellied hummingbird.
We can arrange private bird watching guides to cater for all levels of enthusiasm, but even novices will be captivated by the huge variety of species and colours on offer. Read more in Emma Duncan’s colourful article on birdwatching in The Economist 1843.