Colombia travel blog by Mark Berman -
The bus journey from Santa Marta to Maicao or in the opposite direction and continuing on to the border town of Paraguachon in Venezuela can take anywhere
between 3hrs 30mins to 5hrs. It depends how many times you are stopped at police checkpoints along the way. I have travelled this leg in both directions
3 times. It was especially slow during mid / late 2014 because of the problems with contraband smuggling between Venezuela and Colombia. It takes between 3-4hrs
from Paraguachon to get to Maracaibo. There are also several checkpoints along this leg. From Santa Marta it is 166kms to Riohacha, a further 77kms to
Maicao and a further 11kms to Paraguachon. 254kms in total between Santa Marta and the border of Venezuela.
The Border Crossing at Paraguachon
Best Bus Companies
The best bus companies to take for the leg between Santa Marta and Maicao are Expreso Brasilia
. You will get a good seat on a clean bus with
Worst Bus Companies
Unfortunately I travelled with Exalpa SA Fenix bus company from Maicao to Santa Marta. It was 5hrs of hell on a bus that stunk of urine and had no air
conditioning. Everyone on the bus was soaking wet from sweat, it was horrible. I opened the air vent on the roof 3 times but they came and closed it. This
service cost $20,000 Colombia pesos ($11-12USD), only a dollar less than the best bus companies. Many people were complaining to the drivers but they didn't
care and had no respect. You don't want to travel with these clowns. Look at the photo below that I took after I left the bus. A pair of amateur bus drivers
proud of their bad service and posing for my camera. It was a totally unacceptable service on a coast where the temperature is between 35 and 40 degrees.
Don't ever travel with Exalpa SA Fenix buses, that's my advice!Worst Bus Company - Exalpa SA Fenix
Along the Way
After leaving Santa Marta and heading east you will pass Tayrona National Park
, a small town called Palomino
and before stopping in or passing through Riohacha,
there is turn-off to Camarones
. This is a place with flamingos that I visited on a daytrip from Santa Marta in March 2013.