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Tayrona National Park Really Does Exist

Tayrona National Park

 

You may pinch yourself

when you wash up

 

Tayrona National Park

 

on the stormy shore

of Tayrona National Park.

 

Tayrona National Park

 

Massive boulders

with perfect porcelain curves

 

Tayrona National Park

 

and foreboding jungle cloaked hills

defy your perception of reality.

 

Tayrona National Park

 

Tourists travel

across turbulent water

in a tiny panga

 

Tayrona National Park

 

or through the jungle

on the back of a weary horse.

 

Tayrona National Park

 

Families pitch their tents under swaying palms

 

Tayrona National Park

 

while backpackers curl in hammocks

suspended in forts overlooking the treacherous turquoise sea.

 

Colombian Red Snapper

 

Fresh ceviche and whole fried fish come on platters

served by chatty Colombian sisters

 

Colombian arepas

 

beside crispy fried arepas

from beachfront food carts.

 

Tayrona National Park Beach

 

Shoreline stretches for miles

in utter isolation.

 

Tayrona National Park Beach

 

Swimming holes appear like oases

reprieve from the sweltering endless summer sun.

 

Tayrona National Park

 

In this alternate reality

hammocks become homes

 

Tayrona National Park

 

camps become communities

strangers become friends.

 

bus in Colombia

 

And outside of its jungle fortress

on the barren streets of Colombia

 

Tayrona National Park

 

you will wonder

if this supernatural paradise

 

Tayrona National Park

 

was nothing more

than an aguardiente dream.

 

tayrona national park

 

How to Get to Tayrona National Park

 

There is no easy way to get into Tayrona National Park. This is one of the many things that makes it an adventure. The park entrance can be reached by road, but the beaches and camp grounds are far into the jungle accessible only by boat, foot, or horseback. My recommendation is to enter by boat to get to the campgrounds early when space is still available, then hike out to leave at your own pace and enjoy the jungle scenery.

 

Across the Sea

$20-30 depending on the size of your group

Departs Taganga 9:30am, returns to Taganga 3:30pm

The most direct way to reach the campgrounds in Tayrona National Park is to take a boat across the ocean from nearby Taganga which drops you directly at Cabo San Juan, the main campground. While this may be the most “convenient” and “direct” option it is not necessarily the most comfortable. Our voyage was incredibly rough, the motor stopped working several times in the open sea, and my friend actually got sick inside of her hat… which she proceeded to wear for the rest of our time in the park. However, we did arrive much faster and earlier than those who had taken the bus and hiked in.

 

Through the Jungle

$2-8 for bus or shuttle, then 1.5 hours of jungle hiking

Shuttles leave every morning at 9:30am, buses leave regularly

 

If you’re ready to sweat in the jungle, hike from the park entrance to your campground. Be prepared for heat and mud and wear good hiking shoes. Rent a horse to carry your body or your belongings for $18 each.

 

tayrona national park

 

Where to Stay

 

You won’t find comfortable hotels or backpacker hostels in Tayrona National Park. Here accomodations are tents, hammocks, and amazingly beautiful and luxurious eco haubs. You can bring your own tent or hammock or rent one but be aware that accommodations fill quickly.

 

Cabo San Juan

This is the main beach and campground site. Boats arrive here from Taganga, otherwise it is a two hour hike from the park entrance. The location is convenient and social with soccer matches and nightly music, but it is also crowded and does not offer much solitude. The main draw for backpackers is the fort built on a rock overlooking the sea filled with hammocks to sleep in. These are taken fast so get on the list first thing in the morning.

 

Bukaru

The beaches and campgrounds at Bukaru are beautiful, quiet and remote. Strong currents, particularly at Arrecifes beach, make for a dangerous sea but La Piscina nearby is a lovely calm spot for swimmers. This is where I stayed and I loved it. I walked in the morning to La Piscina to swim and eat a a hot arepa.

 

Canaverel

Closest to the park entrance, Canaverel is the most convenient beach for those entering by foot. It has the only hotel in the park and is close to the most cafes and restaurants.

 

arepa colombia

 

What to Eat

 

Restaurants in Tayrona National Park are expensive, mediocre, and unimaginative. You can expect to pay as much as $25 for a typical plate of fried fish with rice and salad. Cheap eats like fried arepas (the best are from the guy in front of La Piscina), watermelon slices, and ceviche are available for a couple of dollars but if you can handle the weight I recommend packing your own food.

 

What to Do

 

Hike

Swim

Sunbathe

Stargaze

 

For more information, check out the Ultimate Guide to Tayrona National Park from Discovering Ice.

 

 


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Comments

  1. Whoa, that looks amazing! Sometimes I feel like I’ve seen enough beaches, as per our conversation yesterday, and then you post something like this and I feel as though I’ve barely begun seeing wild beaches! 😉

  2. Janet Vaught Says: July 25, 2013 at 8:29 am

    Dear other readers: aguardiente “(in Spanish-speaking regions) A distilled liquor resembling brandy, esp. as made in South America from sugar cane.”
    You’re welcome.
    Dear Camille: Thank you for this lovely post. Making me jealous!
    Thank you for teaching me a new word.

  3. Aw, this brings back lovely memories of my time in Tayrona. We hiked into it in November and ended up covered in mud up to our knees! It was so much fun though:)

  4. William Rebert Says: August 8, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    I just got back from Colombia and I spent some time in Tayrona. Places like that are what makes travel life changing. I recommend doing the hike through the jungle. It’s good for the soul.

  5. Beautiful photos and I love how you describe it! Thanks for the mention at the end too! :)