Tag Archives: Tayrona National Park

10 Reasons to Come to Colombia

When I first came to Colombia I had no idea what to expect. I knew that it would be my gateway to traveling South America, and I had a few sights on my “Amazing Places” list that resided in this country, but after a month and a half of traveling this spectacular country all I have to say is: Pack your bags and make Colombia your next destination! It is amazing.

Colombia is a country that should not be missed, and after reading this list of 10 reasons to come to Colombia, you will understand why…

1. The scenery 
Colombian scenery is breathtaking, no matter if you’re walking around a colorful old colonial town, hiking in the jungle, relaxing at the beach, or simply driving from one city to another through the layers of mountains.
Santa Barbara Colombia

2. The people 
Colombians are some of the happiest, friendliest and most attractive people I have met in all my travels! Try speaking a little Spanish with them and it will get you a long way…Otherwise, just smile, and they will smile back at you. English is still developing here as tourism starts to kick off, so you will benefit greatly if you brush up on the basics of Spanish before you visit. Try using an app like DuoLingo, or read this article for more tips on learning a language.
Silvia Market

3.There is always something to celebrate 
In one month I witnessed at least three “holidays”, which always fall on a Monday to give people a long weekend. I absolutely love that concept! The funny thing is, a lot of the time people don’t even know what the holiday is- they just know that they have the day off work, so why not live it up and celebrate? I like that concept too… Happy EVERY Day in Colombia! Santa Elena Feria de las Flores

4. The fresh fruits are phenomenal 
I thought that I had been exposed to plentiful exotic fruits after two years of living in Costa Rica, but Colombia raised the bar to my standards once again. You can indulge in delicious fruits morning, noon, and night, whether they’re fresh from a tree, fresh from the market, or freshly squeezed. Just make sure you don’t go “giving papaya”, aka making yourself or your objects an easy target.
Colombian fruit

5. The dancing culture
Even if you don’t think you like to dance, you should still take a lesson while traveling in Colombia. Whether it be a professional lesson, or some tips from the man at the corner bar, you will be surprised at how much fun you have as you sway your hips and spin around to the Latin tunes that pump through the air. Delirio Colombia

6. The nature 
As mentioned above, Colombia has it all, from beaches to mountains, from oceans to rivers to waterfalls and even some hot desert land. If you like to get lost in the nature, there are plentiful opportunities to get out there and explore. A few of my personal favorites have been Minca, a cloud forest with rivers and waterfalls, Tayrona National Park, tucked in to the jungle and located along the aquamarine beaches of the Caribbean and Valle de Cocora, a mountainous meadow speckled with sky-high Palm trees that make you feel as though you just stepped into the world of Dr. Seuss.
Valle de Cocora

7. The flowers 
Colombia is covered with flower farms, from roses to hydrangeas to carnations and beyond, and if you’re a flower enthusiast, or you simply want to experience life in the country, then take a trip to one of these spectacular farms and let yourself be wowed. IMG_0084

8. The prices 
Colombia is just getting started with tourism, so it is the perfect time to take a visit. Many places are familiarizing themselves with the needs and desires of tourists, but the place hasn’t been completely exploited yet, and the prices are half what you would pay in other countries. Think $2-8 for a really lush local restaurant meal, and $1-10 for many excursions.
Colombian soup

9. The coffee
It is seriously the best I have ever tasted. You can drink it “tinto” which is black, or “pintada” which is with milk. Oftentimes they will add natural panela sugar cane to the mix without consulting you first, but it adds a delicious twist to the flavor of the coffee. You can also tour coffee plantations, which are typically located in the beautiful mountainous regions. The oldest operating coffee plantation in Colombia, La Victoria, can be visited on a trip to Minca. It is still running with the hydropower of the nearby river, and German owner Mickey has quite a story about regaining control of the plantation from the guerrilla back in the 80s, if you’re lucky enough to meet and speak with him over a cup of complimentary coffee. Colombian Coffee

10. The colorful cities
Colombia is a country with dozens of quaint cities bursting with color. You can spend hours walking the streets “oooh”ing and “ahhh”ing over the spectacular colors of the doors, window frames, and the beautiful combinations of one house next to another. A few of my favorite places to wander the streets were Guatape, Salento and Cartagena. Colorful Cartagena

There you have it. 10 reasons to come to Colombia. Now it’s up to you to come see for yourself.

Take Your Time and Enjoy Tayrona National Park

The gentle rustling of palm leaves mixed with the crash of the ocean waves. A smell of salt in the air.  A deliciously refreshing breeze washing over me as I walked the soft, sandy path which separated the jungle from the aquamarine waters of the Caribbean. I reflected on the three days I had spent in the Tayrona National Park, and I couldn’t help but be filled with gratitude for the opportunity to explore this marvelous place.

Tayrona National Park

As I travel the world, I make it a priority to explore National Parks. I am at my happiest when I am able to be one with nature. Tayrona National Park, however, is a great mix for people who need some “modern amenities” but who still want to get lost in the pure beauty of nature.

Cabo San Juan

 Getting to Tayrona is easy, which probably aids the number of tourists who come here. From Santa Marta, it takes about 45minutes to an hour to arrive, depending on whether you take a public bus (~5000 pesos) or a mini-tourist bus (~10,000 pesos). Upon arrival to the park, you must first watch a welcome video which explains about the ecosystem of the park, and also touches on “Dos” and “Don’ts” while in Tayrona. After watching the video, which plays in Spanish but has English subtitles, you will be given a ticket which then allows you to get in line to buy your entrance ticket. If you’re 26 or under, with a valid student ID and a passport your entrance will be 8000 pesos, but if you’re older, or you don’t have an actual passport and student ID then your entrance fee will be 39,500 pesos.  *Note that you need an actual passport or photo copy- a picture on your phone will not qualify because they must make a photo copy of the passport. Being the “viejita” (little old lady) that I am, at 27 years old, my student card didn’t make the cut, but my 19 year old friend didn’t ‘get the discount either because he only had his passport picture on his phone… Be prepared, and reap the benefits of a discount.

Tayrona National Park

 After purchasing your entrance ticket, you can either walk 5km along a road to get to the point where the trails actually start, or you can pay 3000 pesos for a mini-bus and save your energy for walking in the park. We opted for the bus, and it was money well spent.

Tayrona National Park

Once in the park, the trails are well maintained, with wooden walkways and handrails leading up and down steep areas. If you have hiking sandals, use them. Even though the path is soft, you will be happier if you have shoes which are stronger than flip flops, especially if you decide to hike up to the ancient indigenous town of Pueblito.

Pueblito, Tayrona National Park

 After about an hour of hiking you will come to the first set of accommodations in an area called Arrecifes. There you can find inexpensive lodging with a tent or hammock at half the price of Cabo San Juan. This area has a total chill vibe, but you can’t swim in the ocean here- you must walk up the trail approximately 15-20 minutes to find a swimmable beach.

Tayrona National Park

En route from Arrecifes to Cabo San Juan, you will encounter Restaurant Lilli which is right on the beach, and Panaderia Vere, a bakery, which serves the most delicious chocolate, arrequipe, or guava-queso bread you could ever dream of. At 3000 pesos a loaf they cannot be missed. Do yourself a favor and stop here, take a load off, and sit in the shade of the trees, looking out on the little lake behind the house…you might even happen to see a cayman floating about!

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The beach after the Panaderia Vere is swimmable, and also has food options of arepas stuffed with eggs, vegetables, chicken or meat, and cost between 3000-5000 pesos depending on your selection. You can also refresh yourself with fresh squeezed orange juice, or a cup of ceviche, also costing around 5000 pesos. Stick along the coast, and you will sneak up on “La Piscina”, a picture-perfect swimming area with big boulders that you can climb on for fun. Kick back and relax here, or continue on through the jungle trail for another 20-30 minutes to reach Cabo San Juan.

Tayrona National Park

 The second accommodation area of Cabo San Juan is breathtakingly beautiful, but is more “resort like” than the laid-back area of Arrecifes. If you arrive in the afternoon, be prepared to wait up to an hour in line to reserve your lodging, and by then the hammocks might be sold out. Tents start at around 25,000 pesos a person for a single, and a hammock will run around 20,000 pesos. If you arrive early enough, ask if you can get a spot at the little hut on the beach. There are only about 12 hammocks there, and two little sleeping areas up top, but the breeze is phenomenal, and the view of sunset or sunrise is worth the extra cost.

Cabo San Juan

 The ancient village of Pueblito lies a steep 1.5 hour hike up the mountain from Cabo San Juan. The path is naturally formed by boulders, and at times you must grab on to a rope in order to climb up and over the gigantic rocks in the path. This is where you will be happy you have more than just your flip flops. I wore my hiking sandals, and more than one person commented that they were jealous.

Pueblito Tayrona National Park

 Once up in Pueblito, take a seat, eat a snack, drink some water, and imagine what this village was like thousands of years ago when it was bustling with activity. There are still indigenous people living in the village, and you can see them and their hut houses as you pass by a local stand selling cold drinks. Rather than hiking the boulder path again, take a softer trail back which takes you through the jungle and pops you out on the beaches. It is still about 1-1.5 hours hiking, but it is different and worth checking out. Both routes can be seen on the park’s maps which they give you at the entrance.

Pueblito Tayrona National Park

 During my stay I spent both nights in Cabo San Juan, but if I could go back and do it again I would spend one night in Arrecifes and one night in Cabo San Juan, to experience the different vibes of both places. Cabo is always bustling with people and activity, and each night everyone comes together to eat in the dining hall, which can be nice if you’re looking to meet people. The meals are a bit pricey in comparison to normal (25,000 pesos for a fish dinner, 10,000 pesos for an egg and arepa breakfast) but it makes sense because you’re in the middle of no where. You can always bring your own food to keep your costs down, and definitely bring a lot of water (at least 3 liters), because although they do sell it in the park, it’s 3000 pesos for a small bottle. Indulge in the freshly squeezed juice at least one time during your stay.

Tayrona National Park

When it comes time to leave, you can either retrace your steps and exit the park through the same entrance you came from, or you can take a path out to the road from Pueblito, which you can see on the map. I had a few friends who only spent one night in the park, and they opted to hike out from Cabo San Juan via Pueblito to the road, which allows them to “see it all” in just two days and one night.

Tayrona National Park

 I walked back out the same way I came in, stopping to relax and swim along the way. As you leave the park, take it slow. Enjoy it. Make sure to soak in the salty ocean breeze, and to let the sound of the waves and the rustling palm leaves engrain themselves in your memory. Tayrona National Park is exquisite.

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