We settle into the paradise of Bahia Solano. It’s Uwe’s birthday and we start the day calmly. We chill on the beach, let the high waves shake us and enjoy several beers with Santiago, who tells us that he was a lawyer in Bogota and quit his job to live here.
I organized a night hike into the jungle for Uwe and me to see the animals of the dark. At sunset we start with the guide Manuel. Only the Belgian Pierre accompanies us.
Bahia Solano is a dropout paradise
We hike to the end of Playa Almejal and each get a pair of rubber boots. We urgently need them too. It’s steep up the mountain through the dense undergrowth and it’s very muddy. The climb is very strenuous. We have to be careful not to slip. It’s also so muggy that sweat is pouring down our skin.
After a real forced march of one hour we reach the plateau at sunset.
We take a break and can see over the forest and the sea. It’s a beautiful moment. We have a drink and prepare to face the creatures of the night.
Whatever happens – Don’t! To slip! You don’t know what venomous animal you might land on
It gets dark quickly and we have to rely on our headlamps. We see various species of venomous spiders and even a fat tarantula. We also see a highly poisonous red poison dart frog.
The adrenaline level rises. All I can see in front of me is what is illuminated by the cone of light from my headlamp, next to it it is pitch black, but so hot that sweat is pouring down our bodies.
I don’t want to slip or trip over a root because just to steady yourself would mean accidentally grabbing a venomous tarantula. Black spiders’ eyes reflect even the tiniest light, and small white dots can be seen all around us. Along the way we meet other insectoid monsters, whip spiders: a hybrid mix with the shape of a spider and a scorpion.
Then also a small snake crawls right in front of us on the path. The reptile doesn’t look very impressive, but Manuel says that this is the most venomous snake in Colombia and very aggressive. It’s a banana snake. When she wants to disappear into the bushes, Manuel jumps after her and pulls on the snake until it springs back like a stretched rubber band and looks for a victim at our feet. “Alexander, take pictures” calls Manuel while I try to stay alive and feel sorry for the snake.
“ALEXANDER, TAKE PICTURES” – ARE MY GUIDE’S WORDS BEFORE HE THROUGHS A VENOMOUS SNAKE INTO MY FACE.
I confirm to Manuel that I have enough photos, even though I didn’t even press the shutter button.
The process is repeated for three more snakes and I ask Manuel if we can just go back the same way if something happens to him. However, our guide feels his honor has been offended by this. He knew very well what he was doing. At least this time, for once, he answers one of my questions with an answer that makes sense. Otherwise Manuel always answers with something that doesn’t help me any further. For example, if I ask three times if we go back the same way. “We’re going down,” I hear, as if not noticing. Pierre’s question about anacondas also only gives information about the weather.
When we arrived “below” we reach a small waterfall in which remarkably large crayfish swim.
Überall sieht man weiß, leuchtende Punkte in der Dunkelheit. Das sind keine Glühwürmchen, sondern die Reflektionen der Augen Riesiger Spinnen.
We decline Manuel’s invitation to swim there, even though a shower would be very welcome. But I still see white dots everywhere on the horizon of the cone of light.
I don’t know which animal “friends” are swimming in the water with the crayfish and of course I didn’t have any swimming trunks with me. Manuel seems visibly surprised that neither Uwe, Pierre or I jump head over heels into the water full of nameless horrors.
We wade through the rivulet that moves away from the waterfall and not for the first time we are happy about the high rubber boots, which have already rubbed my feet bloody for lack of socks.
Then we come to a river where we can see a dugout canoe and two people in the dark. The sight is then probably the answer to my question about the nature of our return.
The water is very shallow and Manuel pushes the narrow boat forward with a long stick. I see tiny white dots all over the shore.
As soon as the water gets deeper, the other man starts an outboard motor and it’s fast through the darkness. Large red dots join the white dots. Those are the caimans’ eyes, I learn. However, we cannot see the bodies of the large lizards. Instead we see large bats that have settled under a bridge over the river.
At the end we reach the village of El Valle and from there we can walk back to our hostel at Playa El Almejal. In the next few days we also explore the village and get to know it in daylight.