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Tayrona National Park & Around
March 2011

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Río Piedras and the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia

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The Tayrona National Park is a place that I've wanted to visit for such a long time.
Well, in 2011 the dream came true!

Actually, according to my family I went there when I was like 7 years old, but honestly I don't remember it, so let's say that this was my first visit.

Tayrona National Park was established in 1969.
It is currently the second most visited National Park in Colombia, but this doesn't mean that you will be overwhelmed by the crowds.

The park is covered by jungle and located between the sea and the mountains. You have to walk a lot when visiting, which means that not everyone can easily enjoy it.

In other words, you have to deserve to be there!

Trees in the jungle of Tayrona National Park, Colombia

The park protects an area of about 150 km² of land and 30 km² of sea.
Hundreds animal and vegetal species, some of them endangered, can be found in the park.

Tayrona National Park also boasts archaeological sites. The place was governed by the Tayrona people until the Spanish conquest. By the way, the Indigenous people gave a hard time to the Spaniards there!

Today, indigenous communities such as the Kogui and the Wiwas still inhabit the park and its surrounding areas, including the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.

A red insect in the jungle

We were 3 persons on this trip: my cousin, my girlfriend and me.

One of my cousins has a house in the neighbourhood of El Rodadero, in Santa Marta.
We spent a few days there with my family, with whom we had a great time. But we were having an overdose of the swimming pool so we decided to take a trip to the Tayrona National Park.

Snowy Egrets in Tayrona National Park in Colombia

We left Santa Marta all together by car. We had lunch at a great restaurant in the settlement of El Zaino, with a nice view of the jungle and the Río Piedras (picture on top of this page).

Then we were dropped at the entrance of the National Park.

Like many places around the world, entrance fees are different for locals and foreigners.
When I visited, Colombian nationals payed roughly 5 euro, foreigners residing in Colombia 7 euro, and foreign tourists had to pay around 14 euro.

Abandonned truck. Indiana Jones was here?

We bought some water and the hike started near the parking lot, where there are some abandonned trucks slowly being eaten by the jungle.

We got deeper into the jungle, in search for a place in the park called Arrecifes.
Two trails lead to Arrecifes, and we decided to take the longest one.

The donkey and the beach

We were offered to ride horses, donkeys or mules to Arrecifes, for a small fee.

We were there to hike, so we declined the offer.
But we thought riding a horse would be great for the way back!
Finally we didn't use this, we returned by boat via Taganga.

Pristine beach at Tayrona National Park, Colombia

To be honest, we had absolutely no particular plan on what to do at Parque Tayrona.

We didn't book anything, so we didn't know where to sleep, but Arrecifes and Cabo San Juan seemed to be the best places.

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Mountains and sea on the rocks

We hiked for about 2 hours. We could have probably done it in 1 hour, but we stopped quite often to observe animals, plants and some amazing landscapes.

This jungle trail reminded me and and my girlfriend some other rainforest adventures in Malaysia, in Cuc Phuong National Park in Vietnam and in Amacayacu National Park in the Colombian Amazon.

As for my cousin, she evoked some nice hikes of her trip to The Philippines.

Stones and sea - Tayrona National Park in Colombia

We saw many small animals, insects and birds. There were several armies of big ants marching straight to transport leaves. That's quite imprevessive.

In some places it got slippery, but the good news is that it wasn't raining. For sure, this trail has to be a living hell under the rain.

We found many giant stones on our way, in the forest and later by the sea.

High waves on giant stones

The highlight of the hike was when we reached the sea, at a place called Cañaveral.

I can't describe the beauty of the place!

After some effort we reached a viewpoint over the stones where we could see the mountains and the sea.

I was standing on a giant rock, with the furious sea on the right, jungle covered mountains on the left, and all this under a dramatic skycalling a thunderstorm.

A bird flying from one rock to the other

The word amazing isn't enough!

We continued to hike until we reached Arrecifes and Cabo San Juan. Continue reading on the next page.

Colombia Links:

Colombia official Tourist board
Lonely Planet Colombia guides
Tayrona National Park on Trip Advisor
Compare cheap flights to Colombia
Cheap Hostels in Santa Marta
Hotels in Santa Marta with

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Colombia travel guide

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Put that Gabriel García Márquez novel down and start planning your Colombian adventure! Before you know it, you'll be strolling the cobbled streets of colonial Cartagena...

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