Tayrona National Park Really Does Exist - This American Girl

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.



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.



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







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



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