Capurganá

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Capurganá is a tourist destination of the municipality of Acandí on the northwestern coast of the Gulf of Urabá in the Colombian department of Choco and adjacent to the border between Colombia and Panama. This region of Colombia was inhabited by the Cuna Indians and the name Capurgana translates to the "land of chili" in their language. The Cuna inhabited until the early twentieth century when they were displaced by mostly mulatto settlers from Cartagena. The natives migrated to the archipelago of San Blas (Region Kuna Yala) in the neighboring country of Panama. The Cuna maintain a semiautonomous region where they exercise a degree of self governance.

Capurganá remained unnoticed on the map until the 1970s when Mrs. Narcisa Navas helped to build a small airstrip. Mrs. Narcisa and the pilot Jorge Mario Uribe took the first tourists to Capurganá in a small plane Cessna. The work of Ms. Narcisa and like-minded people such as Don Justiniano Murillo, brothers Jorge and Blas Pertuz, Mr. Lino Buendia, Mr. Abel Pacheco, and many others who provided the land for its construction should be remembered. Today the Capurganá Airport is named in tribute to this admirable woman.

Initially families from neighbouring Antioquia state arrived to build small summer houses. The Mora, Uribe, Arango and Isaza families and especially the charismatic Samuel Isaacs, a relative of the famous Colombian writer Don Jorge Isaacs.

It was Mr. José María Palacio with his son Hector and his wife Gloria who in 1975 organized the first hotel, small log cabins and an iraca palm roof (Carludovica palmata). After the cabins (now the renewed Tacarcuna Lodge) were established, similar hotels followed such as the Almar and Calypso. Tourist infrastructure had grown to more than 20 hotels, inns and hostels by 1990. The small town gradually became a favorite destination for the emerging Colombian eco-tourists.

Activities[edit]

Port of Capurganá.

The main attraction of Capurganá for nature lovers is to enjoy a holiday free of motor vehicles. In Capurganá there are no vehicles since it is completely disconnected from the rest the country. Capurganaá also offers tourists its small crystal clear beach with a nearby coral reef for snorkeling enthusiasts and a real rainforest with mountains and waterfalls. By sea it is easy to travel to the nearby bays of Sapzurro, La Miel (Honey), El Aguacate (Avocado) and Soledad Beach. It is a "must see" tour to walk for one hour to the EL Cielo notch (Heaven) and the "Pool of the Gods" where you can admire nature in all its splendor.

Diving[edit]

Although Colombia has a very extensive coastline in the Caribbean Sea, many coastal waters are turbid due to sediment from large rivers that flow into the sea. One exception is the short length of 30 km that starts from the border with Panama (Cape Tiburon) to the Acandi municipality. This stretch of coastline is bathed by crystal clear waters suitable for practice of Scuba diving and snorkeling. Beyond the Acandí Township and bordering half of the Caribbean Colombian coast to the archipelago of San Bernardo in the Gulf of Morrosquillo the sea is dark by the action of the mighty river Atrato and river Sinu.

The best time for diving is in the middle of the winter season from April to November when the waves practically disappear. During the summer[1] from January to March the wave action becomes intense, making navigation difficult and not appropriate for tourists unaccustomed to sea life. Capurganá dive operators have certified PADI international agencies that highlight that work to international standards.

Biodiversity[edit]

The Choco department is rich in thousands of different animal species, many endangered. Local boats visit "The Playona" beach where Cana (Dermochelys coriacea) and Carey (Eretmochelys imbricata) turtles nest during the months of March and April. It is also possible to observe the famous Choco poison frogs. The beautiful dark green frog (Dendrobates auratus) is also common in the region.

The Golden Age[edit]

The last two decades of the twentieth century were the golden age of tourism in Capurganá. Thousands of tourists traveled from several Colombian cities to know its natural beauty. Unfortunately the increased activities of illegal armed groups scared tourists away. On December 12 of 1999 Capurgana was the victim of a guerrilla attack that ended the tourist flow for several years. The Colombian government eventually established a permanent military presence in the border area with the help of the United States Plan Colombia. Increased security also ended the "cajeteros" or arms smugglers who used the airport as its hub.

Capurganá may relive its heyday, but the high costs of airline tickets from Medellín (US$330) and poor electrical infrastructure of the region make it an unattractive destination.

Climate change[edit]

Capurganá has not been immune to the consequences of climate change. Until mid-1980 it had two contiguous coral sand beaches prized by tourists. Unfortunately the beach of the Virgin of Uvita was invaded by the sea by removing all the sand exposing the coral cliff. Today only the beautiful beach of "La Caleta" remains.

Accessibility[edit]

Today many tourists and businessmen traveling between Colombia and Panama for Turbo-Capurganá route. Boat leave at 8:00 am daily with a capacity of 25 passengers between Turbo (Antioquia) and Capurganá. The ticket price is about U.S. $30.00. The trip takes about 2 to 3 hours depending on sea conditions. It was announced that by the end of 2012 a new Catamaran ferry service will run between the Antonio Roldán Airport (Apartadó Town) and Capurganá.

The nearest city of Panama is Puerto Obaldia, about 45 minutes by boat. Tickets are available at the pier for between $10 and $30.

From inside the country there are flight connections from Medellín in the Olaya Herrera airport companies with ADA (http://www.ada-aero.com) and Searca (http://www.searca.com.co ).

Transport[edit]

Currently all transport of goods is by sea from Turbo (Colombia) and Cartagena (Colombia). In the future the needed Pan American Highway will connect Colombia to Panama but this would be the end of tourism. If motor vehicles invade Capurganá all its charm will be gone and will become again an unknown point on Earth's geography. Its leaders must decide whether to retain its tourist vocation.

Immigration - Emigration[edit]

Foreigners who enter from Panama should be directed to the immigration office of the Department of National Security of Colombia (DAS). Also in this Capurganá the Panamanian Consulate to process permits to visit the San Blas.

Geography[edit]

Climate[edit]

Capurgana has a Köppen Climate Classification subtype of "Aw". (Tropical Savanna Climate). The average temperature for the year in Turbo is 81.0 °F (27.2 °C). The warmest month, on average, is May with an average temperature of 82.0 °F (27.8 °C). The coolest month on average is January, with an average temperature of 80.0 °F (26.7 °C).[2]

Climate data for Capurganá, Colombia
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 29
(84)
29
(84)
29
(84)
29
(85)
29
(85)
29
(85)
29
(85)
29
(84)
29
(84)
29
(84)
29
(85)
29
(84)
29
(84)
Average low °C (°F) 24
(76)
24
(76)
25
(77)
25
(77)
25
(77)
25
(77)
25
(77)
25
(77)
24
(76)
24
(76)
24
(76)
25
(77)
25
(77)
Average precipitation cm (inches) 8
(3)
8
(3)
8
(3)
13
(5)
20
(8)
15
(6)
10
(4)
18
(7)
15
(6)
15
(6)
13
(5)
10
(4)
152
(60)
Source: Weatherbase [3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The climate near the ecuator does not depends on the sun's position on the sky, it depends on different factors such as winds. Capurganá which is located in the northern hemisphere during the northern hemisphere winter season experiences a dry season which is called "summer" by the locals. This is a common misunderstanding among people at high latitudes and the inhabitants of the torrid zone
  2. ^ http://www.weatherbase.com/weather/weather.php3?s=26008&cityname=Turbo--United-States-of-America Weatherbase: Historical Weather for Turbo, Colombia (closest city on record to Sapzurro)
  3. ^ "Weatherbase: Historical Weather for Turbo, Colombia (closest city on record to Capurganá, Colombia)". Weatherbase. 2013.  Retrieved on April 23, 2013.

External links[edit]