Tayrona National Park and Minca

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January 20th 2018
Published: February 8th 2020
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We made a difficult decision to leave Rincon towards Santa Marta involving our first all day bus ride in Colombia. Santa Marta was merely a stopping point for a nights rest and to equip ourselves for camping in Tayrona National Park. Our hostal overbooked so we were put in the reluctant neighbour’s spare bedroom. They were clearly not thrilled with us being forced on them by the hostal owner, but they were still nice enough. Becky was still suffering from a dodgy tummy she now realised was a side effect of the amoxicillin she was taking for her chest infection. Nevertheless, she decided she was up for hiking and camping, so off we went with 8 litres of water and enough tuna and bread for 3 days. The walk to our campsite at Los Cabos passes through dense forests, up and over large boulders and through beautiful beaches. It's an extremely busy park for both backpack and hiking boot wearing foreigners and flip flop and beach chair carrying Colombians. We were glad to have sturdy boots and enough water to keep us hydrated in the intense heat and sun. A highlight on the walk in was cold freshly squeezed orange juice served by an indigenous Tayrona girl. So refreshing! Some beaches are too rough for swimming so we aimed for Cabos which contains a nice swimming beach, restaurant and huge campground. Even though it was mid week we estimated there were around 500 people staying at the site. We opted for a tent rather than hammocks for a bit more protection from the elements. On our second day we climbed up to Pueblito, an ancient village with stone ruins and home to a current community of indigenous Tayrona people. The climb up was more difficult than expected and a few times involved a few people pulling and pushing us up some perfectly round boulders (We aren't rock climbers so this doesn't come intuitively). The hike down was much more enjoyable and we spotted some bats nestled in the boulders. The second nights sleep was interrupted by a woman's blood curtling screams in the neighbouring tent to "make it stop". Thankfully the cause wasn't what it sounded like and was probably due to drugs. There were many people around to help including police and lifeguards. The woman appeared shaken the next day but otherwise ok. Becky however was suffering from an enhanced bout of stomach sickness and despite eating very little was vomiting every 5 minutes on the walk out of the park. We walked half of the way and took the horse riding option the second half. We were thankful for the horse option since she may not have made it by walking.

Becky needed some time to rest before continuing our travels so we stayed for a couple of days at some very nice hostals outside the park entrances until she could keep food down. We realised that instead of the night in Santa Marta we should have stayed here prior to going to Tayrona.

Next was Minca were we stayed at Casa Loma, a 15 minute walk up a steep hill overlooking the town. Prior to heading up we stocked up on food to cook, rather than eating out. What we didn't realise was that there wasn't a kitchen for guests, instead they promote their onsite restaurant. Silly mistake by us especially since it would have been nice not to carry those extra few kgs up the hill. Casa Loma was a nice place to chill out especially for Becky who sat overlooking the hill and watching for birds. We also did a bird watching tour with Jungle Joe and hiked to and swam in two waterfalls/swimming holes. On our last day in Minca we met up with Helen and Graham from Scotland. Helen is our friend who used to live in Wellington. It was a chance encounter as we kept missing them at each city for the past two weeks. The last time we saw Helen was a few years ago under similar circumstances in Sumatra. Where will we meet up next??

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