Humans search for explanations for the world that surrounds them. The Guajira peninsula is rich of tales and mystic places from the Wayuu mythology. The tales are about questions like: Where do the Wayuu come from? How did the Wayuu learn their weaving-technique? Where do the Wayuu clan symbols clan symbols come from? What happens after death?

In this article we want to introduce some of the most important people and places from the Wayuu mythology. For an in-depth introduction we refer to publications of anthropologists who gathered, analyzed and published the tales. Unfortunately, almost all sources are in Spanish or Wayuunaiki. See our bibliography.


It is said that “Maleiwa” (pronounced “Mareiwa”) is the creator of the Wayuu. No one has ever seen her. However, there exist many different tales about her. It is said she lives in the Macuira mountains.


Pulowi at lake Laguna de los Patos (dug lake), Puerto Estrella.

Indigenous all over the Guajira peninsula tell stories about places that are said to have a Pulowi living there. A Pulowi is a female spirit associated with places related to water (e.g. lakes, rivers, or beaches) where somebody died. The Wayuu avoid bathing or spending the night at those places. It is very likely that you get in touch with Pulowi while traveling the Guajira peninsula.

Piedra Wolunka

Wolunka rock near Nazareth.

The Wolunka rock is located at the Macuira mountains close to Nazareth and the Alewolou dune. “Wolunka” is the name of a girl who was the daughter of the rain and the earth. She used to bath naked beneath the rock. One day one youngster shot her with a bow and an arrow into her vagina. According to Wayuu mythology this is why women menstruate.


The Jepira hill at Cabo de la Vela (also called “pan de azucar” or “sugar loaf”).

Jepira is a hill located at Cabo de la Vela. The Wayuu believe that Jepira is the place where the souls of the death travel to. The hill is a common destinations for tourists who visit Cabo de la Vela. The hill is also called “sugar loaf” due to its bright color. As of today, there is a Maria statue on top of Jepira which shows how the ancient beliefs get undermined by western missionaries.

Rock of Aalas

The Rock of Aalas is located in the Jalala mountains.

It is said that Maileiwa sent the wise man Uutta to gather the Wayuu families at the rock of Aalas. A lightning hit the rock and burned symbols into the rock. From that day on every Wayuu family gets identified by their symbol. The symbols are used to mark animals and also for art.

Piedra del Destino

The destiny rock (Piedra del Destino) is located at the Punta Espada region.

The “Destiny Rock” is located in the north-east of the Guajira peninsula. It hosts a cave with an entry and an exit hole. Several tales report from people who entered the destiny rock and were not able to leave it through the exit hole. The ones who failed lost their lifes in accidents short after. It is said that it does not matter whether you are fat or thin, tall or short. The rock can become impassable for everyone or widen itself to let you pass.

Cabo de la Vela

Alonso de Ojeda was the first one who sailed along the South American coast. During his expedition he also passed the La Guajira peninsula and  Cabo de la Vela. That’s why Cabo de la Vela already appears on the first maps of South America.

During the 16th century, the early colonists discovered pearls along the coast between Cabo de la Vela and today’s Riohacha. In order to exploit those pearls the Spaniards founded a settlement at Cabo de la Vela, called Nuestra Señora Santa María de los Remedios del Cabo de la Vela. Due to continuous conflicts with the local indigenous Santa María got relocated to today’s Riohacha in 1544. As a result, Riohacha developed into a center for pearl trade.

Cabo de la Vela also plays a very important role in the mythology of the Wayuu amerindians. For them the hill Jepira is the place where the souls of the dead travel to after death. Jepira is also called Pan de Azucar in Spanish and is a famous tourist destination.

As of today, Cabo de la Vela is the most touristy place on the La Guajira peninsula. There are plenty of accommodations, you can do Kite surfing, visit the nearby lighthouse, and enjoy the beautiful beaches.

Less visited destinations are the salt pan close to Pan de Azucar and some beautiful sand dunes. It is worth to explore the region on your own. There is an article on how to travel to Cabo de la Vela.