Barrancabermeja and Puerto Berrio on the Rio Magdalena are not classical turistspots. Nevertheless, for those travelers who seek experiences out of the common, it is an ideal place for discovering and experiencing "real" Colombia.
Traveling 130km between Barrancabermeja and Puerto Berrio on the rails is the longest train journey you can do in Colombia now! The "Ferrobus" provides a comfortable transportation option between the two cities and brings you to remote regions you would never have imagined visiting on a typical circuit. With a capacity for 40 people, the Ferrobus also offers a cargo bunk for campesinos who board the train anywhere on the way to transport their commodity to the next village or town. The Train along Rio Magdalena provides an innovative way to explore an unknown but beautiful part of Colombia.
The first trip leaves at 5 a.m. every day from Barrancabermeja, and the return "Ferrobus" departs from Puerto Berrío at 1:00 p.m. The travel time on the Ferrobus depends mainly on the intermediate stops. I recommend not being in a rush when using the train. The Ferrobus journey is the perfect way to travel slowly but comfortably between Puerto Berrio and Barrancabermeja.
Barrancabermeja is a vibrant and inviting city in Colombia situated by the Magdalena River in the western part of the department of Santander. This city is home to Colombia's largest oil refinery and is affectionately known as the Oil Capital of Colombia. One of the hottest cities in Colombia, it has warm temperatures all year round. The town is surrounded by water bodies which makes it quite humid. The city is part of the Middle Magdalena region, providing a unique and beautiful landscape.
There are various comfortable accommodation options in Barrancabermeja. I usually stay at the GHL Style Hotel, but other similar hotels are available. Barrancabermeja has an Airport with various daily direct flights to Bogota.
Puerto Berrío is a vibrant municipality in the Magdalena Medio subregion of Antioquia. Today, Puerto Berrio is a bustling commercial hub. Puerto Berrio's strategic location on the Magdalena River, with good overland connections to Medellín, Bogotá, Santander, and the Caribbean, has been critical to the region's growth.
The most inviting tourist attraction in Puerto Berrio is the Majestic Hotel Magdalena, with its 125-year-old history. The hotel overlooks the Magdalena River and was the place to stay overnight when traveling between the large cities of Medellin, Bogota, or Cali and the Caribbean. It was in Puerto Berrio where the railroad ended, and the journey continued by steamship on the Magdalena River.
Accommodation options are limited in Puerto Berrio. Of course, there are hotels, but most are on the "simpler" side. Puerto Berrio has no nearby airport.
Today are no passenger ships connecting the cities along the Magdalena River anymore. Nevertheless, it is possible to do a short cruise on one of the local tourist boats in Puerto Berrio and Barrancabermeja.