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A Side Trip to San Cipriano
This Afro-Colombian village with a population of about 450 people sits deep within a lush, green tropical forest reserve, adjacent to a clear river perfect for floating in rented inner tubes. There are small restaurants with typical dishes like encocadas de jaiba (coconut crab stew) and pargo frito (fried red snapper). Locals sell homemade viche from path-side stalls. San Cipriano is a beautiful, pristine place with an atmosphere all of its own. There’s only one problem: There are no roads there. However, there is a railroad track that passes right to the edge of town. So, locals figured out how to jerry-rig motorcycles on to rickety rail platforms and these brujitas (little witches) zip a handful of passengers at a time through the jungle for the 30-minute ride. When another cart is coming, one of the carts needs to be pulled off the track and everyone gets out as it passes. It’s one of the most unique and exhilarating experiences anywhere in South America. To reach the brujitas, you need to drive to the town of Córdoba, about 20km from Buenaventura. Once there, you need to go downhill about one kilometer to the tracks. Someone will approach, quickly offering their brujita. Expect to haggle, though you should be paying around COP$8,000 each way (note: locals pay much less). You can park for around COP$10,000 per day, though again, expect to haggle. Once in San Cipriano, there’s a COP$2,000 fee per tourist.