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The Little Witches of San Cipriano

A popular day trip from Cali is to take a ride on the brujitas, literally “little witches,” of San Cipriano. Train tracks run through the two villages of Córdoba and San Cipriano, although trains rarely pass by. Local entrepreneurs saw an opportunity here in providing a quick transportation alternative to walking the train tracks for residents to get from one village to the other. They created a wooden cart transportation system that was set upon the rails. It was originally propelled manually using long sticks. The drivers resembled witches on broomsticks flying by, hence the name brujitas. Nowadays, passengers—up to about 10—zip by, as the brujitas are powered by motorbikes (less charming but more adventurous). The teenage drivers like to go fast, so hold on and, if you see a train coming towards you, get ready to jump off. It’s about a 30-minute journey from Córdoba to San Cipriano.

Upon arrival in San Cipriano, you can have a hearty seafood lunch or continue on just beyond the village to a protected area (admission COP$2,000), where you can wander down a path that leads to a refreshing swimming hole in the Río San Cipriano. Inner tubes can be rented, and you can opt to float back to Córdoba.

A wooden cart and motorbike ferry passengers on train tracks near San Cipriano, Colombia.
A wooden cart and motorbike make up the brujitas of San Cipriano these days. Photo © Mario Carvajal, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

A spin on the brujita costs about COP$8,500 round-trip for tourists, less for locals. However, touts may try to charge you up to COP$80,000 for the ride. Pay for the trip only after you have returned to Córdoba.

The experience is best enjoyed in a group. These are often organized by hostels in Cali. If you would like to go on your own, though, you can take any bus bound for Buenaventura and ask the driver to let you off at Córdoba. Buses depart Cali from the Terminal para Buenaventura in the southwest of the city. Look for the metallic black sculpture of the mariamulata bird (the local name for a great-tailed grackle) by renowned artist Enrique Grau (Cl. 7 Oeste No. 3-03). The ride costs about COP$18,000. Be sure to make a pineapple pit stop at Piñas del 44. It’s at kilometer 44 on the highway, and buses will often take a break here.

San Cipriano isn’t the only place in Colombia with brujitas. Visitors to the Coffee Region can take a ride in the village of Estación Pereira along the Río Cauca near Pereira.

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