There are places to kitesurf and then there are kitesurfing destinations. The former have water and occasional winds and a place next to the water big enough to launch a kite. The later have consistent winds during a season or sometimes during the whole year. They will have at least one kitesurf or kiteboard center offering lessons, equipment for rent or sale and often times a sheltered kitchen and dining area to sell eats to hungry kiteboarders. Lago Calima in southern Colombia is a kitesurf destination. The lake itself is a relatively small reservoir but the wind is consistent all year long caused by a Venturi effect where the wind is constricted by the layout of the surrounding mountains. Between 11 a.m. and 12 noon each day a brisk mountain thermal picks up sometimes with clouds pouring over the mountains upwind bringing steady winds ranging from 18-25 knots or about 21 to 29 miles per hour. That’s known as the sweet zone in kiting and there are no less than 4 different kitesurf centers on the lake. They also hold annual kiteboarding and windsurfing competitions in late summer when world champions come to compete.
Of course we had to stop at the lake to get my kiteboard fix and we rented a small room across from one of the kite centers for a week. The kite center we chose, Calima Kite, was a family run operation with a husband and wife in charge and many family members employed to help launch and land kites as well as an aunt who ran a kitchen with very full meals including soup for starters and large plates of chicken, beef or trout, rice, salad, plantains, beans or lentils and fresh juice. All of this was 10,000 Colombian Pesos which may sound like a lot but actually comes out to $3.33! We ate very well that week.
We were the only ones renting in the little business across the street which had 14 rooms and about 4 little bungalows. All was peaceful and quiet until the weekend when Colombians came to the mountains to escape the heat of nearby Cali. Wow, suddenly all the rooms and bungalows were booked and the big extended Colombian families were in vacation mode. Children ran amok during the day and adults ate, drank and sang late into the night. It was quite festive although all I wanted to do was sleep after long days on the water.
On the way from Medellin to Lago Calima we stopped for a couple of days in a little colonial town called Buga. We stayed here a few nights to catch up on blog posts. Our favorite place in town was a restaurant, bar and craft beer brewery called Holy Water Ale Brewing Company. The business was started by an American ex-pat who thought he would attract gringo travelers and was surprised to see that the local Colombians became his primary customers. It wasn’t surprising to us since his craft beers were great and frankly the standard Colombian cervezas are not very remarkable.