Published: November 18th 2011November 17th 2011
Next on the agenda whilst in the North West of Colombia was to visit Tayrona National Park. This was an easy decision to make when deciding where to visit on the coast, as it was only 45 minutes by bus from Taganga, and involved trekking through the rain forest in order to reach several stunning beaches where you slept in hammocks or tents overlooking the Caribbean Sea. No Brainer.
So we started out our adventure in a minibus where we were able to stop and get some ‘provisions’ on the way, as rumour had it there was only one place to eat once we had reached our preferred campsite, and it was expensive. So, we bought some crisps, fruit, breakfast bars, and of course a bottle of local Rum (or Ron as it is known here) to make sure we wouldn’t be found wanting when we arrived. Once at the entrance we had to show our passports to the guards in order to get into the park, it was at this point that the driver of the bus alerted us that we wasn’t allowed to bring ‘Ron’ into the park….cheers for the early heads up! He suggested we hide the
bottles in the van whilst our bags were being searched by the stern looking Colombian guards carrying huge guns. Great idea just what I wanted to do in Colombia, hide prohibited goods from gun touting guards! So, contrary to our better judgement, we hid the Ron under the seat of the van and proceeded to go get our bags checked by the guards. After a flash of the British passport, they didn’t bother to check the bag for some reason and we were told to go pick up our tickets from the booth. Perfect, now we just needed to get the ticket, get in the van and go…..
Too late. No sooner had we got to the booth, the guards were crawling round the van, checking inside. They must have found the Ron for sure! But, once we returned to the van, to our surprise, the Ron was still there, where we left it, result! However, seconds later the guard came straight over to the side of the van and pointing straight at it barked ‘RON’. He had clearly seen it already and just wanted to make an example of us! Then he dug out the remaining bottles of
Ron that belonged to the other travellers on the bus and grabbed their stash too. Needless to say, I’m sure the guards all had a merry old time with our booze that night! Still who were we to argue, they had a badge and a gun….best let sleeping dogs lie!
So, once in the park we were dropped off and it was down to us now to get to the various points on the way. First stop after about an hour and a half trek was Aricifes campsite and beach. The trek there was fairly simple, but a pleasant one, with some great views from the Mirador on the way. Aricifes is a huge beach with fantastic surroundings of the rainforest in the background, and huge boulders strewn all over the beach. Unfortunately you cannot swim at this beach due to the strong riptides, but according to the macabre sign, this didn’t stop some people from trying to brave the waters and over 200 people have drowned there.
After making it across this beach, we made it to ……… which was a nice little cove with people chilling, reading, snorkelling and what not before coming across ‘La Piscine’
which was another beach along the way in which swimming was possible. Although tempted to take a dip and cool off from the sweltering heat of the day, we resisted and batted on towards Cabo San Juan.
After the last 30 minutes or so trekking in what seemed like an oven, we finally made it to the campsite in Cabo San Juan. This was to be our home for the next couple of days and we were therefore quite disappointed when they said the last of the hammocks in the ‘Hammock hut’ (it had a proper name, although I didn’t catch it!) area were taken. We didn’t know we were disappointed until we asked the guy booking us in why these particular hammocks were so special to which he replied ‘much more beautiful, and no mosquitos’. Ah, I see. So based on this comment we could only assume the hammocks we were now about to stay in were ugly and had loads of mossies, by using simple logic?
Turns out sadly the latter of these comments was indeed true. The area in which we had to camp certainly wasn’t ugly, nor was anywhere within the campsite to be
honest, as it really was within very serene and beautiful surroundings, however it just didn’t have the view that ‘The Hammock Hut’ had (more of that in a moment). However, true to his word, the mosquitos were a problem. To be honest, I felt sorry for Donna, as mossies generally leave me alone, and tend to enjoy feasting on Donna’s blood instead. This time however the tides turned, and come the evening when all lights went out, I was targeted. This seemed strange as there were mossie nets over each of the hammocks, and therefore would have been fairly difficult for the bugs to get in, but they somehow managed to sneak into my net. All night I felt things landing on me and therefore had quite a restless night, but to be honest, I thought it was probably more paranoia than actual bugs. In that environment when you cannot see anything, as its pitch black, coupled with the fact that you are all but in the rainforest, your mind can play tricks on you. So after a little tossing and turning, I finally fell asleep happy that I was over-thinking things. Then morning broke.
I looked at the
skin that was exposed throughout the night (hands, feet, ankles and face), and all had been savaged by little bastard mossies! I took a look inside my hammock in the daylight and under the mossie net, to see at least 7 of the gits buzzing under there. It wasn’t my imagination after all! They had sucked me dry throughout the night, and I now looked like I had caught small pox!
Luckily the next day, we managed to get a hammock in the 'Hammock Hut', and it was worlds apart from where we had been the previous night. It was a round structure high up on a plateaux on top of a large hill, with around 20 hammocks and above these 2 cabins. The views from there were stunning as in every direction there was another great beach with these huge boulders framing the sand. Once claiming the hammocks, we descended our new abode and simply enjoyed two of the local beaches that we had worked fairly hard to get to and relaxed in the paradise around us. The sand was perfect, the waters crystal clear and clean and the atmosphere was serene and relaxed with people hanging out,
swimming and even practising Yoga as the water lapped at their feet.
Once the sun had set, and night closed in, we simply sat in the undercover seating area chatting, drinking a few beers, and playing some cards before going to watch the storm brewing from our hammocks up in the sky. Falling asleep in the open air with a view like that is a wonderful experience, and one we are both very lucky to have enjoyed.
So, after a couple of simply blissful days (except a few bites that had started itching!), we started the trek back to where we had started in order to pick up our minibus back to Taganga. The trek seemed easier going back, although it was slightly more eventful as we come across a few Howler Monkeys this time and Donna nearly managed to tread on a snake therefore making us reverse up and take a detour! We also heard once we had arrived back at the entrance to the park, that on their way back, a group of people had come across a Cayman in the water joining the sea to the lake within the forest. This was water we only moments
ago had waded through whilst posing for pictures as Donna had got her shorts wet, and it looked like she had pee’d herself! Scary stuff.
If any of you are wondering, no, the guard never did return to us our bottle of Ron!
So it was time to say goodbye to possibly some of the best beaches either of us had ever seen and head back to Taganga……
There are more photos below