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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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”
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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.