Tayrona National Park: a paradise come true

January 1, 1970

by Backpacker Mama

For sure you have heard about Colombia, but trust me, nowhere as majestic like this national park: El Tayrona name given by the ancient people who lived there.

Tayrona National Park

What to know about this place

The indigenous people of the Sierra:

The original owners of this land are the indigenous people of the Sierra. They are divided into four important tribes: kankuamos, Koguis, Arahuacos and the Wiwas, all living on the incredible Sierra Nevada de Santa Martha (the closed mountain snow peak to the sea in the world).  Each group has their own culture, but what unites them, is that they are the guardians of mother earth, our creator. In their own terms: they are the big brothers, keepers of nature, born from this sacred mountain and ordained to maintain and protect it. Under this logic, we are the younger brothers and their mission is to teach us how to care for our mother earth. About this tribes. 

If you have the amazing opportunity to visit this land please be respectful, it is not just a beautiful place, is sacred for its people. If you are attent, for sure you will feel the special energy given by the contrast between the mountain and the sea. It is unique for its indigenous people, their culture, and their daily exchange with the modern government and tourism.

How to arrive at El Tayrona

Your first stop is in the city of Santa Martha, to arrives at the park you should ask for the local buses that take you to “El tayrona”. The buses are in the transport terminal, ask for in spanish like:  “amigo, ¿dónde encuentro el bus que me lleva al Tayrona?”. Maybe, you will be indicated to take some bus towards  “La Guajira” (another department). Make sure to tell the bus driver to notify you when it arrives at the entrance of the park.  From Santa Martha to the park, it will take about an hour and the cost should be like $ 10 USD, depending on the season.

On the other hand, you have another option: take a taxi from Santa Martha to Taganga. A town better known for its party tourism. Look for a boat to “Cabo San Juan”, the most incredible beach in the Tayrona Park. For this trip, the locals will charge you like $ 20. My advice is that you should take the bus on the way to the park and do the bote ride on the way back.  To have the full experience it is better when you enter the park on foot. Make sure you enter by the main entrance called “Zaino”.

What to know before:

Your first journey inside the park is approximately a two hours walk with your backpack inside the tropical forest, but don’t worry, it will be beautiful.  During this walk, you can appreciate all wild animals like birds, monkeys, anteaters, and many more. You will have the full jungle experience with wild sound and feelings taking into a different world submerge in the raw nature.

Before starting the journey you will need yellow fever vaccine (maybe the staff will ask for your vaccine card), mosquito repellent, sunblock, a hat, water, and food. You may purchase this inside but they will be more expensive.  Inside the park, they are some restaurant that will serve you breakfast and lunch, for dinner or in between make sure to have some snacks with you.

The park opens at 8:00 a.m and closes at 5:00 p.m, it’s not necessary to do any reservation, but they have a limited number of people that can enter daily, so if it is better to do the reservations. At the door, the staff will charge you $ 20  approximately, this cost covers a national tax for the care of the environment.  Inside the park, there´s the option of camping or luxury “eco-habs”,  but there are more expensive. To have more information follow this link: The Tayrona park website. 

Walking into the park

The adventure:

First, put your walking shoes on, fill your water canteen, use sunblock and put on a hat. When you enter, take the park bus services, it cost 1 dollar and will be a 10-minute tour. This will save you a half an hour walk and vital energy.

At this point, you may take a horse ride for a fee (around $20) or go on by foot, depending on what you prefer. If you are going on foot make sure to take the pedestrian path and not the horse one; although both will be full of mud the horse path will be worse. Take a map with you and don’t be shine to ask if you feel lost, as there are many paths that take you to different parts of the park.

After one hour walk, the first beach that you will find is called “Cañaveral”, this zone is exclusive to the “eco-habs”.  Past this zone for 20 more minutes and you will find the first camp zone, “Arrecife”, this place is the cheapest to camp in the park but you can´t swing here because the tide is very high and dangerous. If you want a more secluded experience I recommend you a place called “Finca Don Pedro”, they can rent you tends or hammock for $ 10 to 15  each.

Another area where you can camp is “Cabo San Juan”. There are different paths to get there, by the beach or through the jungle, and each takes about 2o minutes to walk.  This is usually the most desirable camp zone because of all the options you have; breathtaking beach views, lookout tower huts, hammocks, restaurants, and all the sun, sea and breeze you cant take. Camping here cost around $20 per person, there are hammock special zones, and optional cabins for $ 70 per couple. Here is where most of the visitors will be, special in high seasons like December or July.

What to look for:

  • Bare bakery.
  • Walks to “Pueblito viejo”.
  • Visit “La piscina” and “Arrenilla” beaches, and the nudist beach too.
  • “El Rincon de Faby” restaurant.

Finally, enjoy and brings peace and gratitude to this place.

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