Travel Notebook

Mompós: Colombian Charm Off the Beaten Path

Fans of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude will fall for the colonial facades, colorful churches and undeniable charm of Mompós, Colombia’s best-kept historical secret. Following the country’s slow rise to popularity in recent years, this “town that time forgot” has emerged with its first luxury boutique hotel, complemented by improved accessibility to the region. Recognizing this gem on the marshes of Bolivar on the Magdalena River, our Rebecca Recommends client Amakuna offers a series of exclusive experiences in the area, unveiling rich history, architecture, music, literature, and creativity unmatched in Colombia.

Photo credit : Vice Ministry of Tourism, Colombia

Entering Mompós is akin to visiting Cartagena three decades ago, with intricate 16th-century colonial houses, tree-shaded plazas, and cobblestone streets. Hear a local history expert tell tales of Mompós’ trail-blazing role in declaring independence from Spain – and why Simón Bolívar famously said, “If to Caracas, I owe my life, to Mompós, I owe my glory.” Wander Mompós’ cobbled streets with a local architect, who will point out the symbolism of the colonial architecture and explain how the city earned its UNESCO World Heritage status. Literary buffs can enjoy a private reading of Garcia Marquez’s memoirs, accompanied by a traditional Colombian feast on the riverbank. To add to the magic, his favorite Mompósian music, Cumbia, will be played by the local band Abundio y Sus Traviesos. Jewelry lovers are invited into one of the city’s silver filigree workshops, where the famously ornate pieces are made, meeting the artisans and learning the skills jealously guarded and passed down from one generation to the next. Set off by boat to explore the network of tributaries surrounding Mompós, keeping an eye out for the impressive array of birdlife that makes its home here, complemented by a fresh fish lunch on a quiet, deserted isle.

Photo credit: ProColombia

Accommodations throughout Mompós are intimate and exquisite, typically only bookable by those in the know – yet another reason to connect with our friends at Amakuna. British journalist Richard McColl opened his first hotel, Casa Amarilla, here in 2008 – a beautifully restored colonial home with 10 rooms. Casa la Concepcion followed, and soon, it’s most luxurious sister, Casa San Rafael, will welcome guests in just seven rooms in a former colonial ruin overlooking the Magdalena River.

The courtyard at Casa Amarilla

Now’s the time to explore Mompós, before word gets out. Improved road access and a new bridge to the mainland cut the journey time from Cartagena to Mompós by almost two hours, making it easier than ever to get there. Amakuna’s founders, Boris and Marc, together with their expert team, provide local knowledge and an understanding of the culture, having worked and lived in Colombia for more than eight years. Located in Medellin, Colombia’s second largest city, Amakuna is committed to providing luxury travelers with completely bespoke itineraries, granting access to otherwise inaccessible destinations, be it Mompós, or elsewhere in the country. For more information, visit or call 646 736 7582.

Photo credit : ProColombia