Located on the Caribbean coastline in Colombia is a hidden jungle escape where you can live out your fantasies of rum swigging pirates discovering buried treasure. Or simply marvel in the natural beauty of the tumbling jungle reaching the shores of the warm Caribbean waters.
I am of course referring to Tayrona National Park in Colombia, which is a must see destination for anyone traveling in Latin America. Only a short ride away from the town of Santa Marta or the more popular backpacker destination of Taganga.
Trekking along the coastal paths that make up the park take between 1.5-2 hours in total and the hike takes you through jungle onto the beach and then through shaded groves of coconuts.
Where to stay
There are a handful of places to stay along the coastline depending on how much you want to spend and what kind of view you want. If you have your own tent then you can pitch it at one of the many campsites. If you don’t have one or don’t want to lug one through the park then have no fear, there are still plenty of options.
Hammocks are available for rent and are quite cheap and a nice and cool way to sleep with the night time sea breeze. Tents are also available for hire or rent as are small cabins at a select few places. For those not wanting to trek or not having the time then Cañaveral is the first accommodation option that you will come to.
Bukaru campsite is around half way through the trek and is a nice and quiet option with hammocks and tent accommodation options. Cabo San Juan del Guia is the campsite at the furthest end of the park but has the best location. Located on two beaches that are safe for swimming with palm trees and lots of room, it also boasts hammock, tent and cabin options.
What to do
With jungle behind you and water to the front there is no limit to the things you can do. Spend the day traipsing from one beach to the next swimming and enjoying the relatively clean and clear waters. You can rent snorkeling gear from the campsites as well to take a look at the world below.
Behind the Cabo San Juan del Guia campsite is a two to three hour round trip hike to the ruins of an ancient city. It is also a great way to get into the jungle and spot some of the unique wildlife. You may even hear a howler monkey if you leave early enough in the morning.
Or simply relax, read, write and chat with the other travelers you will meet there.
What you need to know
Your bags will be searched before entering the park so be prepared for park rangers to publicly go through your stuff.
Plastic bags are banned from being brought into the park as a way of trying to stop rubbish pollution.
Bringing your own alcohol is also banned, but never fear once inside you can buy beer cheaply from one of the camping and accommodation places.
The first beach called Arrecifes that you come to is dangerous and has ‘do not swim signs’. Follow these signs and do not swim as there are strong currents and many people who have ignored the signs have died.
You will want to bring enough food and water for the entirety of your stay and longer. Food is available for purchase but save your money and bring your own. To make your stay enjoyable also remember mosquito repellent and sunscreen.
The beauty of Tayrona National Park is in its remoteness and rugged beauty and is a not to be missed destination in Colombia.
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