Blogs from Parque Nacional Tayrona, Santa Marta, Colombia, South America


Having not seen much Caribbean Sea in and around Cartagena we were looking forward to experiencing this part of Colombia and where better than Tayrona national park. Tayrona is named after three indigenous tribes that were grouped together and called the Tayrones - they include the Koguis, the Wiwas and the Arawaks. The whole northern coast was pretty much no man’s land up until a decade ago. Owned and managed by the paramilitary and drug lords, you wouldn’t step foot here unless you were a Tayrona or a coca farmer. As part of the peace truce and cleaning up Colombia, the coca plantations were replaced with banana plantations and land was made available to buy. We met a lot of people escaping the madness of Bogotá or Cartagena for the tranquility and isolation of the jungle ... read more
Little Karolina kissing Peppa
Marco’s drawing of Peppa
Tayrona National Park

Tayrona national park is a very beautiful place, especially on the various beaches, (sweet). But like I mentioned in first blog on Colombia, some irritants can also be found here. (sour). The model for national parks in latin america is for me Costa Rica, hands down: Parks are well organized; Trails are very well marked; Detailed maps are available; Moving around in parks by yourself is simple; wildlife is abundant. If you know Costa Rica, then Tayrona could be compared to Manuel Antonio or Cahuita national parks, in a sense of a forest bordered by sea. But organization in Tayrona is not great. Let me explain. a-Entrance: main entrance is clogged with cars and buses just beside the main busy road. Even if you bought tickets online, you need to go to 2 or 3 different ... read more
baby caimans
the boot

Note to self - Do not go to a National Park during a South American holiday week where no one has to go to work. I went to Parque Tayrona in hopes of hanging out on the beautiful beaches for 2 days or so by renting a hammock and setting up camp. In the morning I went to the grocery store and loaded up on fruits, water, and sandwich material which were to be my supplies for the trip. I then walked to the bus terminal and waited for the bus to arrive for transport to Parque Tayrona. There were quite a few of us waiting around and when the bus pulled in it was total chaos. There are no lines down here nor any concept of first come first serve. It is every man for ... read more

This our 100th blog!!! Thank you everybody for reading and following our adventures. We hope you still enjoy reading them as much as we love sharing them. Some countries more than others are known for having the perfect beaches; for the relaxing, unwinding and admiring the pure beauty of their idyllic setting. The ones that spring to mind include the picture perfect beaches of Mexico, Maldives, Spain, Brazil, Jamaica, Philippines and Australia. All known for their outstanding sandy beaches and crystal clear waters. All in their own way offering their own slice of paradise. When looking into our very last minute trip to Colombia, we read many posts highly recommending travel in Colombia but noting that if you were looking for a beach paradise then you should look elsewhere. That’s okay we thought to ourselves, our ... read more
Colombian's Carribean costline
Beach life
No cabins, hotels or hostels on this beach

a 5 hour bus journey took us from Cartagena to Santa Marta. Whilst santa marta itself is nothing special, it is the gateway and starting point for other places in the north of the colombian caribbean coast. Probably the most well known and visited is Tayrona national Park. After spending 2 days staying in an ex cartel hostel lying by the pool and doing very little, it was time to move ourselves outside our comfort zone and get into the wilderness. After bringing plentiful supplies (we had been told that it was extortionate inside the park) we caught the 1 hour bus north and entered the park. After a quick safety briefing we caught the transfer bus which took us to the furthest point within the park which cars were allowed. After that,it was all treking. ... read more

At breakfast today in my Santa Marta hotel met two older American women who were travelling together, without husbands. They were a bit smug when they found out I was going with a tour to the park as they had taken a 'collectivo', (small bus), that is until they discovered how little I had paid! It's easy to succumb to this mentality, that using anything other than public transport is cheating: why take a taxi when you can spend hours walking and waiting for buses? Well, because it's exhausting and wastes precious time, that's why. Have decided the trick is to do some trips on public transport just to prove you can and for the other trips do whatever makes best use of your time! In any case in the hierarchy of independent travellers I reckon ... read more
On the walking trail from Cabo de San Juan to Arrecifes
Mangrove tree, Parque Nacional de Tayrona
Arrecifes,  Parque Nacional de Tayrona

Tayrona Park guided by local veterans The pilot had said that the flight would take two hours and a half to land into Bogota, I saw my watch and it was eleven twenty am and I observed through the windows some snow mountains belonging to the central mountain range of Peru appeared, probably they would be Huascaran and the black and white eastern mountain ranges of the Andes, they were heading north east taking the route of Iquitos. Soon the jungle appeared and he could see many brown meanders rivers, but all of a sudden a big river —that must be the amazon river—in some more minutes I would arrive at Bogota to take a cosmetic flight to Santa Marta. Near the sunset I arrived there and drive van about 30 minutes to downtown. The first ... read more
Cabo San juan del Guía
Cabo San Juan del Guía

Outside of the entrance to Tayrona, we set to work trying to figure out how to get to our fancy hotel that we had booked in Barlovento. We new it was close, but we didn't have a good map. There were some taxi drivers that wanted to charge us an exorbitant 40,000 pesos, so I phoned the hotel and asked them the best way. They said it was just as easy as catching any bus heading east and telling them you were going to Barlovento, and the drivers all new it. And it was just that easy. After getting off the bus, it was a short 10 minute walk down a quiet lane to the hotel known as Barlovento. Lonely planet describes this as the “single most beautiful place to hang your hat in the area ... read more
Our Home For the Night
The Lakeside
The Seaside

After a not-so-good sleep, we got up and headed out to catch the bus to Tayrona. We grabbed a street breakfast on the way to bus. I don't remember what we had, but it was probably bunelos. At the bus stop, the first one was full, but they come every fifteen minutes so we caught the next one, and we were at park gate an hour later. Thanks to our hammock reservation, we got to skip the line at the park entrance. The trip into the park starts with a short 1-2km walk along a road to the start of the trail, so we elected to take the van shuttle to save some time. It was about an hour and a half walk through some beautiful scenery to our hammocks in Arrecifes. We passed by lots ... read more
Hittin' the Trail
That's Some View Right There
Crowded Trail, But Great Scenery

Maxa z Rakuska som zacala volat Robinson. Vzdy, ked sa za nim obzriem, lovi v mori ryby, splha sa na kokosovu palmu, alebo nahana leguanov po lese. Medzicasom sme zistili, ze kokosy nam len tak zo stromu nespadnu, tak sme nasli jeden orech padnuty na zemi. Maxovi trvalo vyse hodiny, kym sa prepracoval k mlieku. Vysledok stal za to. Na dalsi den spadne kokos hned vedla naseho stanoviska s dekou. Max dlho nezahala, uz zhana nozik a pusta sa do prace. Vylepsil si cas, teraz mu trva 10 minut, kym sa dostane k mlieku a daslich 10 minut kym sa prepracuje ku kokosovemu jadru. Mmmm, to bola mnamka, ty kokos! ... read more

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