Wilton's Daryl Hawk views Colombia in a new light

If you think Colombia is a dark and rather scary country, international photographer and explorer Daryl Hawk wants you to think again.
“Colombia has been way off the radar for most people to go to as a travel destination. But I felt very much at home in Colombia,” Hawk told The Bulletin.
To shed more light on the mysterious South American nation, Hawk is giving a photographic presentation and lecture, “Colombia: Light at the Edge of the World,” on Wednesday, May 22, at 7 p.m., at Wilton Library.

A Wilton resident, Hawk went to Colombia to shoot a magazine documentary and will recount the 1,600-mile solo expedition he made through that country’s northwestern provinces — sharing stories and photos of his day-to-day adventures, discoveries, and the lessons he learned.
Situated at the top of South America, Colombia shares land borders with five countries: Venezuela, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, and Brazil. It is a densely biodiverse territory, encompassing Amazon rainforest, tropical grassland and coastlines along both the Caribbean and Pacific.
Armed with just his camera, Hawk started his two-week journey in the city of Cartagena and followed the highest coastal mountain range in the world — the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta Range.
He was particularly impressed with a dramatic sunrise he viewed at the northern tip of Colombia, and said he looks forward to sharing photos of it at the lecture.
Hawk finished his trek in the rugged Guajira Peninsula desert where he encountered the Wayuu indigenous people, who have maintained their independent way of life through the centuries.
Hawk spent his days walking and his evenings meeting people in the areas where he stayed.
“I love wild country to be young in, where my mind can run free and fast with the constant visual stimulation I experience from dawn to dusk. Every single day in Colombia was filled with pure magic,” Hawk said.
Hawk wants to dispel negative images about Colombia. “People have in mind that Colombia is a dangerous country, filled with drug cartels and kidnappings. That was true in the 80s and 90s, but that’s not the Colombia I experienced. I never felt I was in any danger whatsoever,” he said.
But just as in other foreign countries, he advises visitors to be alert to avoid crime, and not wander off the beaten path. He said it’s safe for visitors inside the walled city of historic Cartagena, but venturing into the outskirts there was more of a risk of getting robbed.

“Everything on my journey unfolded smoothly, there were no mishaps. Rarely have I met nicer, more open people in my life than I did in Colombia,” he said.
With 30 years’ experience traveling and exploring the world, Hawk says he has received many requests from people who would like to accompany him on his trips.
Until now, his journeys have been solo excursions. But Hawk said he is now ready to branch out and lead groups to South America and Cuba through his new company, “Unconventional Travelers.”
“The focus is to inspire travelers to the world in a new way by experiencing firsthand other cultures and lifestyles. Stimulating photographic explorations will connect people with some of the world’s most beautiful places,” he said.
Trips for 2019 and 2020 will take place in Cuba, Colombia, and Ecuador. For more information, visit unconventionaltravelers.com/.