Day 182, Tayrona: Don't miss this Colombian treasure, it is so awesome that even Shakira sings about in her new hit.
As sings Shakira in her new song Bicicleta "Que si a Pique algún día le muestras el Tayrona, después no querrá irse pa Barcelona", when you are in Tayrona, you are in heaven and don't want to leave.
Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona is Colombia's treasure, one of the country's most popular national parks. In a jungle, by the mountains and the sea, the park covers some 12,000 hectares of land and 3000 hectares of sea. The scenery varies from lovely sandy beaches to rainforest and hills, at an altitude of 900 m at the highest point. The area was once the home of the Tayrona tribes and is now an important touristic attraction. The gorgeous beaches are bays surrounded by mountains and coconut palms. However, due to strong currents it is not safe to swim on all of them, and please take the warnings seriously. The prettiest, safest and most popular beach is called Cabo san Juan de la Guía, and that is where me, H and V headed as well for our Tayrona trip.
It was so much fun traveling and spending time with the boys, a new experience for me since my friends are and have always been mostly girls or mixed male-female groups. V and H were so cool about everything, joking all the time and easy to be with. Absolutely no drama like it sometimes is with girls... Also, we are all from Helsinki, studied in similar business schools, and have traveled and lived abroad, so that may also be why we have plenty in common and got along so well. It was also nice to speak Finnish for a change, I even learnt some new words and expressions! However, at times I could only laugh, they were so strange. Like how much beer is it possible to drink? Or how often did we really need to stop to eat something? Or how they had to comment something about every girl that passed by. Haha.
So here we go, from Minca to Tayrona:
Colombian wonders: my lunch smoothie came in a plastic bag and H had to sit behind a "window" in the bus from Santa Marta to Tayrona.
Arriving to Tayrona it took as a while to get in, Colombian administration is almost as slow as the French. However, the waiting was worth it since they finally let all of us pay the cheaper price that is valid for students under 26 years old (8500COP/2,5€ vs 42000COP/12,6€ so the difference is huge!). Only V is under 26 and I'm not even a student anymore but we were lucky they were not too strict about it. After that we walked for some two hours through the jungle and took a break at an other beach, then finally arrived to our destination: Cabo san Juan del Guía.
The weather was not that great (means cloudy but still very hot) so my pictures are not as good as they could have been with sunshine. Still, Tayrona is paradisiac.
Cabo san Juan is a camp site and for sleeping there are two options: hammock or tent. We arrived in the afternoon and there were no hammocks left, thus tent was the only choice left. We didn't want to pay more to have two tents so we said that we would all sleep in one big tent. However, the guy in charge of the tents must have thought that we were crazy because he gave us an additional mini tent for free. So in the end I had my own place to sleep, it looked like this:
Some of you already know that my experience in camping is quite limited (inexistent) so I'm sure you are laughing right now. For the rest, well now you know, I'm trying out new things again. It wasn't camping really though because there was a restaurant where we had dinner and breakfast (good food but slow service and again, the boys ate five times more than what I did). We spent the afternoon on the beach, the evening eating and drinking beer (mostly boys, not me) and I slept surprisingly ok in my tent. The next morning we went back to the beach but since the weather was still bad, H and V decided to head back to Cartagena so that they would have more time there before leaving Colombia.
I was actually glad to spend some time alone reading a book, but I didn't mind either when my Cali friend A arrived, with two other girls that she had met in Santa Marta. We spent some time with them on the beach and just walking around.
Instead of sleeping another night in the tent, I went early to the reception to book myself one of the 16 "VIP hammocks" at the small cabana on the beach. My friend K had told me not to sleep there because it gets very cold in the evening, but of course I didn't listen to her. Result: it was so cold and windy during the night that I though I would die of hypothermia and thus didn't sleep for a minute. However, the views from up there were stunning, and I spent most of the evening just chilling in my hammock, reading a book, watching the sunset and listening to the waves.
Waking up (well I didn't even sleep) with this view was almost worth the suffering.
On Sunday the weather was finally better. A with her friends left to another beach but surprisingly my other Cali friend S, appeared (we are so following each other again) so I stayed with her for a while before starting my journey back to Santa Marta.
An option for walking two hours back to the entrance is to take a horse. It cost me 40000COP/12€ but since I had saved a lot paying the student entrance price I decided to treat myself with some luxury and enjoy an hour and half of horseback riding in the forest. It had been a while since I did it in Cuba and this time too I liked it a lot.
Horse, mini-van and bus, and I was back in Santa Marta and checked in to a hostel called Mango Tree, the nicest hostel where I have ever been. I liked it even more than Masaya where I stayed last time when I was in Santa Marta. It's quite simple really, a place doesn't need to be expensive to be nice. Mango Tree was perfectly clean and the dorms where big with high ceilings and good ventilation so it was actually possible to sleep. The garden and swimming pool area was lovely, the personnel more than friendly, and breakfast was included in the price (30000COP/9€ per night).
The first time I visited Santa Marta I was recovering from a vicious food poisoning, thus my souvenirs from the city are a bit blurred and not so great. Now when I was back there, it is actually quite a nice city. Of course nothing compared to Cartagena but it could be an ok place to live. My friend K joined me at Mango Tree and we went for a short walk on the seaside boulevard.
That was all we did that night because we had to pack and get physically and mentally ready for the next day, when we would leave for a 4-day hike to Ciudad Perdida. I mean sleeping in a tent was still ok but imagine me hiking... Well, you already know that I survived, I'll tell you in the next post how that went.
Read the next story here.
I'm Emilia, Finnish-Parisian, a recent Master's graduate. I'm currently traveling around the Caribbean and on a volunteering mission in Colombia. I'm passionate about writing, music and different kinds of sports. I can't wait to discover new places and cultures - and share my adventures with you!