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Tayrona National Park, Colombia – Heaven On Earth, Untouched

by on January 3, 2012

in Colombia, Happy Nomad Tour

I have probably overused the world paradise lately. And it’s a shame because I inadvertently have cried wolf. Even though I wasn’t in Tayrona for much time, about 36 hours, they are 36 hours I’ll never forget.

There aren’t a ton of words in this post because I want the pictures to try and tell the story, though they’ll never match the mental images I have stored deep inside my brain.

I left Santa Marta early in the morning having read a bit about Tayrona but planned to figure everything out upon arrival. This meant some interesting surprises were in store for me, but it was fine.

Food And Water For The Trip

Food And Water For The Trip

I read that food and water was incredibly expensive inside the park, so I brought some to be prepared. I just brought two bags of granola and two bags of oatmeal. I ended up eating much more than I expected, probably due to all the hiking. I didn’t buy any meals inside the park, but I did buy freshly squeezed orange juice and a guava pastry. I love guava.. :)

Hiking To My Camp

After a 15-minute walk, hour bus ride, and then 10 minute bus ride from the park entrance to the parking lot, I was then on my own. I could have taken a horse to get where I wanted to go, but I wanted to walk.

The walk to the first beach takes about two hours, though you can’t swim there. Then it’s about 15 minutes to the next beach, where you can swim. Then it’s about 30 minutes to where I stayed, Cabo San Juan, where you can swim too.

The hike was great. Conditions were pretty good with wooden bridges along a lot of the walk. I don’t know how to say it, but I got to see a kind of green I’ve never seen before in my life. Just a deep, rich, alive green that seemed to absorb and radiate the sun.

When I got to the first beach, I was thinking and hoping I wouldn’t get too muddy or wet. Well, I went to stand on a rock a bit off the walking path and before I knew it a big wave crashed and the water was gushing past me. I didn’t expect that to happen and my shoes were instantly soaked.

So, no problem. Now I didn’t care! :)

The rest of the walk was horribly muddy due to all the rain from the rainy season. There were times when my feet were completely submerged in mud.

Below are pictures of this hike. The story continues after them.

Welcome Signs

Welcome Signs

Welcome Sign

Welcome Sign

Hiking To My Camp

Hiking To My Camp

Very Muddy!

Very Muddy!

Arrival At The First Beach

Arrival At The First Beach

Arrival At The First Beach

Arrival At The First Beach

Arrival At The First Beach

Arrival At The First Beach

Arrival At The First Beach - Danger!

Arrival At The First Beach - Danger!

My Shoes Were Clean In The Beginning

My Shoes Were Clean In The Beginning

Almost There...

Almost There...

An Army Of Ants

An Army Of Ants

Very Muddy!

Very Muddy!

Very Muddy!

Very Muddy!

Arrival At The First Beach

Arrival At The First Beach

Birds On A Rock In The Sea

Birds On A Rock In The Sea

Best Glass Of Orange Juice Of My Life

Best Glass Of Orange Juice Of My Life

Huge Iguana

Huge Iguana

Hiking To The Ancient Town Of El Pueblito

My plan for the day was to walk up to the historic village of El Pueblito. I thought there would be a lot of animals to see along the way and some historical things as well. I did see some animals, but upon reaching El Pueblito there was literally nothing there!

It was fine though. The hike was wonderfully invigorating. It was all uphill and I had to climb over gigantic stones and walk like a duck in a cave to get there. I was sweating and using a lot of energy, but somehow I wasn’t tired. And the next day I wasn’t sore. So very cool!

During the hike I realized how great they are at preventing garbage from entering the park. I think I only saw one or two pieces of litter in the 1.5 hour walk up and 1 hour walk down. Pretty amazing given all the contamination otherwise easily found everywhere these days. The beaches were clean as well. Fabulous!

The Route To El Pueblito

The Route To El Pueblito

A Baby Iguana

A Baby Iguana

How To Fix A Hole In A Pipe

How To Fix A Hole In A Pipe

Entering A Small Cave

Entering A Small Cave

Inside The Cave

Inside The Cave

Leaving The Cave

Leaving The Cave

Beautiful Butterfly

Beautiful Butterfly

I Almost Stepped On A Huge Snake. I Tried To Take A Picture, But I Don't See The Snake Here...

I Almost Stepped On A Huge Snake. I Tried To Take A Picture, But I Don't See The Snake Here...

A Path Made Of Stones

A Path Made Of Stones

Iguana With Amazing Blue Tail

Iguana With Amazing Blue Tail

Climbing Over Stones

Climbing Over Stones

Climbing Over Stones

Climbing Over Stones

Climbing Over Stones

Climbing Over Stones

Black And Yellow Frog

Black And Yellow Frog

Climbing Over Stones

Climbing Over Stones

Climbing Over Stones

Climbing Over Stones

At A Stream

At A Stream

Another Stone Path

Another Stone Path

Strange Fruit Upon Arrival To El Pueblito

Strange Fruit Upon Arrival To El Pueblito

Strange Fruit Upon Arrival To El Pueblito

Strange Fruit Upon Arrival To El Pueblito

House With A Solar Panel In El Pueblito

House With A Solar Panel In El Pueblito

Crab On The Beach On My Way Back To The Camp

Crab On The Beach On My Way Back To The Camp

What You Shouldn't See Next To A Nudist Beach

What You Shouldn't See Next To A Nudist Beach

Walking Along The Beach To Return To My Camp

Walking Along The Beach To Return To My Camp

My Camp

After the hike, I was dead. So I returned to my hammock at my camp – Cabo San Juan. It was then I realized how close mine was to the person next to me. In the end, there were two Brazilian girls (Taish and Priscilla) next to me and we hung out that night. I started things off by asking them to take a picture of me in the hammock. Then we went to dinner together. I’m really glad we did because it would have been pretty awkward being that close to a complete stranger!

My Camp

My Camp

My Camp

My Camp

My Camp's Beach

My Camp's Beach

My Camp's Tents

My Camp's Tents

Me In My Hammock

Me In My Hammock

My Brazilian Neighbor

My Brazilian Neighbor

It was a fun evening, but then things took a turn for the worse. It got a bit cold, very windy, and then it started to rain. There was a roof overhead, but it made a ton of noise in the wind. I got inside my sleeping bag insert and pulled the string closed.

I was cold and since I didn’t have a lock to attach to a free locker, I used my backpack as an uncomfortable pillow to ensure its safety.

I thought a hammock would be more comfortable to sleep in, but they take some getting used to I guess. I think if I wasn’t using my backpack as a pillow and if I had felt warm, I would have slept fine in it, but given the wind, rain, coldness, I only got a few interspersed hours of sleep.

Heading Back To Santa Marta

In the morning I thought about leaving right away. It rained the night before, the skies were gray, but it wasn’t raining. I saw it as an opportunity to get out of there without hiking through three hours of rain. But I stayed and there were times when the sun would come out for a few minutes and then disappear again.

I walked back with my Brazilian neighbors and it was fun to have company on the walk. Everything looked different with the gray skies, but it was still beautiful.

I don’t know if Tayrona has some kind of microclimate, but we could clearly see that the rain cloud that was tormenting us was only over the park and there were blue skies in other directions. Not too far from the park on the bus back the skies cleared and great weather returned.

Cool Petrified Wood

Cool Petrified Wood

Hiking Back To Leave

Hiking Back To Leave

Hiking Back To Leave With My Brazilian Friends

Hiking Back To Leave With My Brazilian Friends

Hiking Back To Leave With Priscilla

Hiking Back To Leave With Priscilla

Horse Shower

Horse Shower

Egg Arepa For Lunch

Egg Arepa For Lunch

Cool Bird

Cool Bird

Hiking Back To Leave

Hiking Back To Leave

The Storm Affecting Only Tayrona

The Storm Affecting Only Tayrona

The Storm Affecting Only Tayrona

The Storm Affecting Only Tayrona

Conclusion

Despite the bad weather on day two, it was a wonderful, wonderful experience. As I appreciate natural beauty more and more, I seem to be finding more and more beauty in the natural things I experience.

If you ever visit Colombia or Venezuela, make a point to visit Tayrona. You won’t be disappointed and if you have more time there are amazing things do there as well, such as visiting “the lost city”

About Adam Pervez

In mid-2011 I left my cushy corporate job and took the plunge into a life incorporating my passions of traveling, writing, volunteering, learning, educating, and telling stories. I study what happiness means to others, offer what I can from my engineering/MBA background as a volunteer, and try to leave each place better than how I found it. Read more.

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