Katanzama and Jwisingeka

Indigenous Tourism

Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta


Description of the experience

In the village of Katanzama, the Arhuacos offer indigenous tourism experiences very close to the sea; the tour begins with a meeting with the spiritual chief (mamo), who will not only be your host, but also your expert guide in the culture and ancestral traditions.

The experience in Jwisingeka with the Arhuacos is magical, you will observe firsthand the cultivation and production of cocoa, learn about its symbolic and cultural significance to get to produce one of the best chocolates in the world.
As you explore these indigenous peoples, you will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in their history and ways of life, observing how spirituality is intertwined with daily chores.

Arhuaco Indians

The Arhuacos, also known as Ika, are an indigenous community native to the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, and are part of the “four peoples” along with the Kogui, Wiwa and Kankuamos. Their worldview is based on the harmony between humans and nature, and they consider the Sierra Nevada to be the heart of the world, a place where the earthly and the spiritual intertwine.

Sharing a rich cultural heritage and a deep spiritual connection with their environment, they have learned to show a part of their customs to travelers who wish to have unique experiences with the indigenous tourism offered by the Arhuacos.

How to get there

First, you must get to the city of Santa Marta, accessible by plane, bus or private car from other cities in Colombia.

Transportation to the village of Don Diego from Santa Marta, where these two indigenous communities of the Arhuacos are located.

Itinerary of the experience

  • Departure from Santa Marta at approximately 9:00 AM heading to Don Diego.
  • The trip in the vehicle lasts 2 hours.
  • An Arhuaco mamo will welcome the group in his territory, brief talk and spiritual pagamento.
  • Tour of the community and recognition of the indigenous houses (bohíos).
  • Interaction with members of the indigenous community.
  • The indigenous women of the community are in charge of exhibiting their culture and teaching tourists the cultural significance of their handicrafts.
  • Exhibition of traditions (backpacks, handicrafts, natural fibers, cotton…)
  • Experience with tourists, teaching them how to weave and interweave their fique fibers.
  • Time for tourists to support the local economy by buying souvenirs (optional).
  • Departure for the group to have lunch at the Don Diego trailhead.
  • After lunch, the group heads to the Arhuaco Jwisingeka village, in this indigenous community they are expert producers of cocoa and one of the best chocolates in the world.
  • Welcome by the indigenous authority, who will give a short talk about their culture and territory.
  • Cacao Exposition, tourists are guided through the cocoa crops, where they will learn about the entire ancestral process in the production of chocolate.
  • Time for tourists to support the local economy by buying souvenirs (optional).
  • After having lived this magnificent experience in the indigenous tourism offered by the Arhuacos, the tourists say goodbye to the indigenous people and are transported to Santa Marta.
  • End of the cultural experience.

What is included

  • Transportation by van or jeep 4×4
  • Private tour
  • Entrance to the 2 Arhuaco villages
  • Feeding
  • Indigenous guide
  • Tour of the indigenous territory
  • Recognition of indigenous houses
  • Interaction with the indigenous community
  • Sample of traditions (backpacks, cotton…)
  • Chocolate (cocoa) exhibition
  • Travel insurance


It is recommended to go with an indigenous guide, since payments must be made and above all respect the customs and space of the Arhuaco Indians.

Bring appropriate clothing for the hike, sturdy shoes, sunscreen, insect repellent and enough water to stay hydrated.

During the guided tour in these two indigenous communities, it is essential to respect the customs and norms of the Arhuacos.

Katanzama is a village of Arhuaco Indians located very close to the beach, unlike the Jwisingeka village which is located a little further into the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.

What to bring

  • Identification document.
  • A small backpack.
  • Camera.
  • Comfortable clothes for walking.
  • Walking shoes.
  • Resistant sandals.
  • Hat or cap.
  • Bio-repellent.
  • Sunscreen.
  • Personal medicines.
  • Cash.

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