Cabo de la Vela: A Trip to the Edge of the World

We had expected Cabo de la Vela to be magical. It sounded like a dream – totally deserted, crystal oceans, woven hammocks to wrap yourself in on cool desert nights and locals who joked with each other in a secret language.

We knew that when we headed to Cabo de la Vela, that we would be heading back in time, but we hadn’t realised just how harsh the desert could be.

The trip to Cabo, for the tourists who decide to take it on, is a fairly infamous one – renowned for its mad drivers and the sense that the tourists packed into the back of the truck are a total afterthought, with priority given to the supplies that are piled onto the truck with the skill of a champion Tetris player.

For us it was no different. I shared my seat with a dirty, loosely lidded, 12-gallon drum of petrol and gripped a spare tyre between my legs. With eight of us crammed in the back, we bumped and knocked against each other for over two hours, heading further and further away from the beaten tourist track.

As we clambered out of the truck we looked around at the emptiness around us. A boy, who had spent the journey on the roof of the truck, threw our bags down onto the dust and we were left on our own to find a place to stay for the night.

We picked ourselves up and began walking down Cabo’s main road – a hot, dusty track, lined with stick shacks which slung hammocks between their beams. Realising that we had all our valuables stuffed in our bag, we began to worry that the exposed, open air hammocks might be a little problematic.

The decision to stay in a ‘hotel’ instead of a hammock on the first night to keep our bags locked up, was a bad one. It was hot, dark and incredibly dirty.

Whilst travellers returned from Cabo will tell you plenty of romantic tales of the incredible little village at the end of the world, no-one tells you about the lack of running water, the generator-electricity that only loudly appears at night and the incredible, salty, sandy heat that clings to you well after the sun has gone down. That one sweaty, itchy night in the mud brick room in Cabo quickly evaporated some of the pueblo romance.

In the light of day though, Cabo became beautiful again. The morning sun bounced around on the bluest water I have ever seen. As I waded in, washing off the remnants of the little hotel room, schools of little silver fish parted around me.

We dried off, picked up our bags, paid for our bed and started one more time down the dirt track. By 9am, the strength of the sun was already brutal. We walked to the end of the main strip before we found a hammock in the side of a kite surfing school, who happily kept our valuables behind the desk.

This part of the beach was filled with people who had flocked to Cabo to take advantage of the wind. Kite surfers whipped up and down the beach behind multicoloured parachutes, letting themselves be lifted up into the air, until gravity reluctantly pulled them back down.

Feeling settled, we headed off to explore the coastline. We walked along the beach, stepping cautiously over shells, crab claws and washed up stingrays.

The further our walk took us away from the little hub of Cabo, the more breathtaking the view became. The sand stretched out forming sandy cliffs on the edge of the water. With nothing but sand and sea around us, it felt as though we were the only ones there.

We had heard of the local lighthouse, and made our way toward it, beaten, the entire walk, by the wind and sand. It constantly seemed like this beautiful little part of the world, was doing all it could to rid itself of the tourists that came to admire it.

On arrival at the top of the hill, the lighthouse was dramatically overshadowed by the cliff line that seemed to curl around and stretch, in front of our eyes, all the way to the edge of Colombia. We realised, truly, that we were experiencing a place like no other.

We stayed in Cabo, in our hammocks, for one more night. Appreciating the cheap, fresh seafood, the Venezuelan beers and the clever local kids, that were immune to the foreign visitors, yet all experts at winning them over. We enjoyed our final day of salty skin and sandy feet.

The following morning, though, just as the blue water began to lure us back in, a man in a twin-cab drove past, announcing spare seats on the trip back to Uribia. We got in without hesitation, leaving the magical Cabo behind. Though we were looking forward to fresh water, warm showers and real beds, the closer to reality we got, the more we understood how truly otherworldly Cabo had been.