Paradise - Tayrona National Park

Published: October 4th 2011
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Following 3 hours sleep in a hammock because our dorm was right next to a party that didn’t finish till 6am, we left the next morning with a girl called Liz we’d met at the hostel. As soon as we made our way to the bus stop, the heavens opened. This would be the start of a very wet and miserable hike to the National Park. Getting the public bus was definitely easy and saved a fortune on getting a taxi. They obviously knew where we were headed and shouted when we had arrived. Very nice Columbian people.

An hour or so later and we arrived at the entrance to Parque Nacional Tayrona. There is quite a steep entrance fee but well worth it once you are in there.
We were told that the furthest part to the national park was complete secluded paradise but would obviously take longer to get there. We only had 2 nights there so decided to head to the furthest point and make our way back over the next couple of days. We had been told that it should take no longer than a 2-3 hour hike.

It didn’t stop raining and any hiking in a national park with torrential rain involves a lot of mud. We were falling down mudslides, getting our feet trapped in the ground, slipping on wet roots and twigs and being pushed off paths by horses and cargo. It was feeling like a bit of a nightmare and not the beauty and tranquility we had been told to expect. We found the first camp called Arrecifes, which was set among mango and avocado trees, very pretty but we had a beer and moved on as we were going to stay there on the way back the next day. We passed camp after camp and every now and then emerged from the forest onto the beach before disappearing back into the forest, still looking for our camp. Over 4 hours in and we were starting to lose faith, until asking in our best Spanish to a passerby, was told it shouldn’t be too far away.

Over 5 hours after setting off, we arrived at Cabo San Juan de la Guia. Obviously we had left our main backpacks with the hostel or we would have never made it. The only choice of accommodation is tent or hammock. There are hammocks on ground/beach level or for only 5,000 COP more we could get probably the best accommodation in the best location that we are ever going to experience.

It was a bit of a mission but well worth it.
The resort was a beautiful cape with amazing beaches, palm trees and great views. From the resort you needed to cross a sandy gulley, then climb rocks until eventually reaching the top where there was a Mirador with 15 hammocks. Our hammocks faced directly out to the Caribbean Sea; what a beautiful location.

Unfortunately the weather didn’t improve that day, although it did make for fantastic storm viewing at night from the comfort of our hammock. We were experiencing something that money couldn’t buy.

There we were, swinging in our hammocks 100ft above the ground on a Mirador above the water, drifting off to the sound of the waves with a lightning storm on the horizon. It was unbelievable.

The sun came up right in front of us on the horizon at approx 5am and it was looking like a beautiful day. With no electricity, wifi, phones or civilisation, there is really nothing much else to do when in paradise but to explore a little, relax, sunbathe and snorkel. There were so many different coves, beaches and bays that you virtually get a bay all to yourself. We loved our location so much that we decided not to move on to the next site and to spend our 2 full days at Cabo.

It really was one of the most beautiful and secluded places in the world, here we also witnessed quite possible the largest ever rainbow. We felt like we were in someone’s imagination, not a place that actually existed. We had met a German bloke called Till so the 4 of us chilled out in paradise and made our way through the Caribbean rum we had brought with us and rocked ourselves to sleep to another lightning storm highlighting the sky out on the horizon.

Unfortunately, morning came although with a beautiful sunrise, it did mean we would have to make our way back. Unfortunately we had to make our way back as Tony was starting his PADI Scuba Diving Course theory in the evening.

Till and Liz couldn’t bear the thought of the walk through the national park again in the intense heat so cheated and paid to get a boat back. We thought our money would be better spent on drink at the Champions League final, so about midday (bad move), we head back to the entrance of the park.

Only 2 hours but 8 litres of water later, we arrived at the park entrance. We had discovered that the path we originally took was the cargo route for the horses taking in all the stock. The visitor path was laid with stable decking in places and it passed monkeys and beautiful coves. Just the tropical forest scenery we were expecting. The walk was still incredibly hard, as at times we needed to walk big stretches along the beach so had no cover and it became unbearable but the views were amazing, big boulders in tiny bays, white sandy beaches and sparkling gold mineral flakes.

But note to anyone that goes, and you really have to go, don’t follow the horse trail. You will get lost and you will regret it!! Also make sure you head to the furthest point of Cabo San Juan. No exaggeration, it is paradise on earth.

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