Can’t be missed on the tour to San Basilio de Palenque

6 Things that can’t be missed on the tour to San Basilio de Palenque

Nestled along the northern coast of Colombia lies a place where time seems to stand still, yet pulses with the vibrant rhythm of Afro-Colombian heritage. San Basilio de Palenque, the first free town in the Americas founded by escaped African slaves, is a living testament to resilience, culture, and community. Embarking on a tour to this historic enclave offers not just a glimpse into the past, but a deep immersion into a world where traditions thrive and stories come alive alongside with locals.

1. Drums:

The heart of Palenque beats to the rhythm of drums. As you wander through the cobbled streets, you’ll encounter a symphony of sound emanating from the local tambores. From the deep resonance of the “Pechiche Drum” to the lively beats of the “Alegre Drum”, each drum tells a story of survival and celebration. Accompanied by instruments like the marímbula and maracas, the music of Palenque transcends time, echoing the spirit of its people.

More About drums here!

2. Gastronomy

No journey through Palenque is complete without indulging in its rich culinary heritage. From the savory aromas of hearty stews to the delicate flavors of fresh fish, mostly Tilapia, every dish reflects the fusion of African, Indigenous, and Spanish influences. Sample traditional delicacies like bollo de yuca, carimañolas, and sancocho, and savor the essence of Palenquera cuisine with every bite.

Some popular dishes are:

  • Fried fish in coconut milk
  • Rice with coconut
  • Stew with Bledo (Plant)
  • Offal
  • Sancocho
  • Cocadas
“Kumina ri Palenge pa tó paraje,” is a cookbook that translated the culinary traditions of San Basilio de Palenque for a global audience, has been crowned the best in the world! Written in both the Palenque language and Spanish by the community itself, the book offers a unique glimpse into their heritage. Additionally translated into English and French, it ensures this rich cultural experience reaches an even wider audience. This prestigious award was bestowed upon the book by the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2014.

3. Murals

Adorning the walls of San Basilio de Palenque are vibrant murals that serve as windows into the community’s soul. Each stroke of paint narrates a story of resistance, resilience, and pride, depicting scenes from Palenque’s rich history and culture. From depictions of legendary heroes to celebrations of everyday life, these murals are a testament to the enduring spirit of Palenque.

6 Things that can’t be missed on the tour to San Basilio de Palenque number 3 murals

4. Dance

Prepare to be entranced by the mesmerizing dances that embody the spirit of Palenque. From the spirited movements of mapalé to the graceful elegance of bullerengue, each dance is a celebration of Afro-Colombian heritage. Join in the festivities and let the rhythm of the drums guide your steps as you immerse yourself in the vibrant dance culture of Palenque.

Two outstanding dancing schools in San Basilio de Palenque:

  • BATATA School: School for young drummers whose origin refers to one of the main dynasties of drummers in San Basilio de Palenque started by Paulino Salgado. They create rounds to keep people awake at wakes.
  • Famia Ri Palenque School: The director of this school is Franklin Hernandez Cassiani, it started in 2019 with the intention of teaching children music and the Palenque language, the love of dance and the drum. From 5 years old to 14 years old.

5. Boxing Classes

Experience the strength and discipline of Palenque’s boxing tradition with immersive classes led by local experts. Learn the art of the sport while connecting with the community and gaining insight into its cultural significance. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned boxer, these classes offer a unique opportunity to engage with Palenque’s sporting heritage firsthand.

Palenque, it’s a cradle of boxing champions. Famed for launching the career of world champion Antonio Cervantes, better known as “Kid Pambelé” in 1972, Palenque has a deep-rooted passion for the sport that continues to inspire generations. Here, boxing isn’t just a hobby – it’s ingrained in the very fabric of the community. Kids practically learn to throw punches before they learn to walk! This dedication has produced a remarkable legacy, with Palenque boasting three additional world champions besides Kid Pambelé.

6. Learn from Kombilesa Mi

From the streets of San Basilio de Palenque emerges Kombilesa Mi, a collective of young Palenqueros dedicated to preserving their cultural heritage through music. With their unique blend of Rap Folklórico Palenquero, they bridge the gap between tradition and modernity, infusing local rhythms with contemporary beats. Learn from these cultural ambassadors as they share their stories and songs, offering a glimpse into the soul of Palenque.


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