Leaving Paradise for a walk in the Jungle

Published: July 14th 2013
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It has been almost two years since we last posted our blogs. The pace of life whilst traveling lends itself to writing and having returned to England and got new jobs our creative sparks stopped. So it is from a beach in Sri Lanka (travelling again) that Hannah and I can finish the tales of our travels...sorry it has taken so long!

Sweat spilled down our backs as easily as the muddy tracks that crumbled the path before us. Ambling slowly along, laden like listless mules, our oh too humane bodies struggled against the weight of our oversized backpacks and 15 litres of drinking water that we carried. We were deep into the jungle of Tayrona National Park that sits at the tip of Colombia on the Caribbean coast, and we had only just begun!

A day prior to this we had been lazing on the azure coastline of Palomino, positioned at the northern shores of Colombia.

Our days consisted of little more than sunbathing, swimming, reading and trying to crack into coconuts that littered the floor. Once cracked, we had usually worked up an appetite and thus turned to our guesthouse kitchen, positioned just off the beach, where we would prepare fried plantain and fresh fish brought in by the fisherman that day. Paradise wouldn't be complete without an ice cold beer, yet our beachside locale rendered a cheap beer unattainable. But this is Colombia and so we had an enterprising moto taxi man deliver us cold Pilsen beer from town to our seats on the beach. Beer on tap and paradise found!

After a few days of blissful beach time the rumblings of the infamous Tayrona Natioanal Park began to surface. Tales from tactile travelers told of pristine jungle and deserted beaches. It wasn't long before a lust for adventure had gripped us.

We packed our bags and hitched a ride in the back of a jeep, wind blowing without a bead of sweat to disrupt our brow. At the entrance to the park a small shop teased us with the last chance of cheap supplies. Never being one to shun a deal we decided to stock up on 15 litres of water and snacks for the park and with the reassuring cry of "It's only a short walk" ringing in our ears, we were off.

Four sweaty hours or so later and we had arrived at Cabo San Juan. A beautiful cove beach with crystal clear waters but unfortunately far too many tourists to truly enjoy its natural beauty. Cabins were fully booked so it was a hammock atop a rocky outcrop for the night. The breezy rock looked the ideal place for a cool sleep but come midnight a big storm had brewed which made sleeping impossible. In order to not be tipped out of the string hammock we had to tie ourselves in, quavering under our clothes for some warmth.

This wasn't the Tayrona experience we were after and so that morning Josh and I got the map out and decided we could walk it to another beach, Playa Brava, further along the coast. There was even a Pueblito (small village) along the way where we thought we could stop for breakfast.

Five hours later and we had arrived at the Pueblito. This beautiful, deserted place was in fact once a major settlement for the pre-Hispanic Tayrona Indians and to our dismay now little more than ancient ruins. This meant no breakfast. Luckily we had water and we had our snacks from the park entrance which played the role of our food for the ten hours hiking we did that day.

Gradually lightening our loads through the copious amounts of water we were drinking, we ambled on through the thick jungle. Monkeys lurked in the trees above and little streams and water holes greeted us just as we were about to meet breaking point. Yet our destination still escaped us. This was a proper hike. We had way too much stuff to be hiking this route but we loved that...The challenge!

Eventually we arrived in the late afternoon to Playa Brava, a deserted beach with an old run down guesthouse. We had made it but nobody was there. By nightfall the owner had strolled across the other side of the mountain on his horse and we had negotiated a deal to stay the night.

We had lost about ten pounds in sweat and tears but with our backpacks down and our bodies cooled in the sea it all began to feel worth it. We had the beach and the guesthouse to ourselves, being the only people crazy enough to trek that far. That evening we joined the family for dinner, expressing our delight in pidgin Espanol, our stomachs eased and our adventurist dopamine levels fulfilled.

There was one more issue to resolve however, how the hell we were gonna get out of there. There was no way we were going to go back the same way we had come! The owner assured us that there was a road coming from the other side of the mountain that could be hiked in about 4-5 hours. Having seen his plush array of mules it didn't take me long to agree a deal with him for one mule to carry our stuff out the next day. An affordable extravagance. We deserved it!

Back in Santa Marta the next day with a shower, comfy guesthouse and a tale to tell we were up for a celebration. It also happened to be Josh's last night. To say it was a big night would be an understatement. Josh treated us to a slap up meal of steak and red wine and we then proceeded to party Colombian style right up until Josh had to leave for his flight the next morning at 9am. The next day I woke to find a small tic gripped to my leg. No more jungles for a while I think!

Additional photos below
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14th July 2013

lovely to have your blog to read again, now you have the time and right mindset! How can you remember such details? Lookin g forward to some more xxxx
14th July 2013

Good to see you blogging again
It is bad when work interferes with travel and writing. Amazing photos. Perserverance is the key to finding an appropriate beach setting.
31st August 2013

Beautiful memories beautiful people x

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