Weekend in Tayrona National Park
Getting to Tayrona from Barranquilla is very easy:
Take a local bus to the Brasilia SA office on the corner of Calle 19 and Carrera 6a ($2,000 COP).
Ask for a ticket to Tayrona ($15,000 COP). The bus takes around 2.5 hours. You have to look out for the entrance to the park and ask the bus driver to stop as it is en route, but not an official stopping place. Look out for a large hut with a straw roof about half an hour past Santa Marta.
With a cedula, entrance to the park costs $20,000 COP, which is much cheaper than the price for other foreigners traveling with a passport. There is a two-mile road to where the hike begins proper – but you can (and should) skip this, and take a small bus for $3000 COP.
You can camp close to two of the main beaches – Arrecifes or Cabo San Juan. Hammocks are $25,000 COP for the night, and tents are $30,000 COP. It’s not possible to book in advance and the hammocks make for a more comfortable night’s sleep but are usually the first to go, so make sure you arrive early. There is also the option of riding a horse if you’re feeling lazy!
Walking to Cabo San Juan takes two hours without any breaks, but can take around four hours if you stop at the beaches along the way and have a bite to eat. There are lots of animals to look out for too – we saw lizards, birds of prey, blue coconut crabs, monkeys, and marmosets. The marmosets were very interested in us, and followed us through the trees, occasionally throwing things at us! Depending on the time of year there can also be lots of colorful butterflies. The environment varies a lot too – at times you are walking along pristine beaches with crashing waves, tropical forests, or mangrove-like areas (albeit without any swamps). There are some steep climbs through the wooded areas, but you’re rewarded with fantastic views of the coastline.
When you finally reach Cabo San Juan, sweating and tired, there is nothing left to do except relax on the beach with an ice cold beer ($5000 COP) and swim in the Carribean sea. There are lots of palm trees so it’s possible to find a shady spot too.
It’s highly recommended to stay the night - stargazing is excellent when the sky is clear as there is no light pollution, and there is nothing to do but relax and chat with the other visitors. There’s an on-site restaurant serving pretty reasonable food for around $20,000 COP, but it’s advisable to also bring plenty of snacks, and maybe your own dinner if you want to save some money. You should also bring sufficient water to avoid buying expensive, and small, bottles during your stay.
When it’s time to leave, you can walk back to the main gate and catch a bus back to Barranquilla from the side of the road, as they pass by very often. A trip to Tayrona is one of the most relaxing, beautiful and simple trips you can take in the coastal region. Including a meal, one night’s stay in a hammock, and a few beers, it should only cost around $120,000 COP (or $40 USD)!
Author: Thomas Fletcher
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