La Guajira is the driest and hottest place you will find in Colombia and the home of the legendary Wayuu people.
The Wayuu are particularly legendary because the Spanish were never able to conquer them or colonize the territory of the “savages” from the northern peninsula.
According to archaeologists, the Wayuu’s ancestors began settling in La Guajira some 10,000 years ago.
These people originally came from Central America and gradually settled along the Caribbean coast and the Antillean islands north of Venezuela.
Over millennia, several cultures developed in the peninsula. The Wayuu became the largest and most dominant.
Despite settling in what is the driest region in what is now Colombia, the Wayuu and their neighbors survived by specializing their hunting and fishing skills, and using rare fresh-water sources for horticulture.
The Guajiro rebellion
The Spanish first arrived in the peninsula around 1500, two years after Christopher Columbus learned there was an entire hemisphere east of the Atlantic Ocean.
While the conquistadors were able to colonize much of Latin America, the Wayuu and their allies proved invincible for them.
In fact, when the Spanish were finally expelled from Colombia 319 years after their arrival in La Guajira, the Wayuu were still in control of their territory.
The Wayuu’s resistance was this successful, because they were able to adapt their battle techniques and retreat into the desert where conditions were too harsh for their enemies.