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Cabo de la Vela

Cabo de la Vela (Spanish for "cape of sails") is a headland in the Guajira Peninsula in Colombia with an adjacent small fishing village. It is a popular ecotourism destination of the Caribbean Region of Colombia


The cape was discovered by the Spanish explorer Juan de la Cosa in 1498 during his fourth travel as pilot for the expedition of Alonso de Ojeda, making this place, together with the Gulf of Paria the first places ever visited for the Europeans in South American Mainland. Its name derives from the first view of the cape from the sea, when the pale colors of the promontories an their curvaceous forms emerging from the flat desert, suggested vaguely to the Spanish the shape of a sailboat.

The foundation of the first settlements in the area was made by Martin Fernandez de Enciso who founded a village near the Cabo de la Vela with the name Nuestra Senora Santa Maria de los Remedios del Cabo de la Vela in 1535, the first settlement in La Guajira. Due to constant attacks from the indigenous and other Spanish conquerors from neighboring Captaincy of Venezuela due to large deposits of pearls, the village was moved to present-day Riohacha in 1544 and refounded by Nikolaus Federmann.

The aboriginal inhabitants of the area were an ethnic group of arawak language, which remained free, defeating the spanish conquest. Their descendants, the wayuu people still inhabits the area. Cabo de La Vela ("Jepirra" in wayuunaiki language) is a sacred place to them, since they believe it is the place where the souls of all the deceased travel to rest with the ancestors, as the gate to afterlife.


The cape is surrounded by the La Guajira Desert, part of the larger Guajira-Barranquilla xeric scrub. There are in the area several saline lagoons and mudflats visited by large populations of American Flamingos.

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Cabo de la Vela

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