Tayrona National Park - Santa Marta
Entire families, with bright smiles drawn on their faces, pack for adventure; foreigners from the four corners of the world make preparations: nothing can be left to chance; ecologists, biologists, anthropologists, ornithologists, archeologists come by the scores. Everyone wants to be part of an unforgettable experience. No one wants to miss out on the magic that inhabits one of the most extraordinary National Parks in America.
Located 34 kilometers from Santa Marta, this natural and cultural bulwark (declared a Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site in Unesco in 1979) houses in its heart one of the most complex ecosystems on the planet, due in great part to the transition of its thermal floors. It’s also home to coral reefs, mangroves, sea grass beds, coastal mountains, tropical jungles, cloud forests, crystalline rivers that are born where the snows of the Sierra melt.
In this 15,000 hectares (3,000 of which are marine), we have an extension of green ocean that flows toward the Nevada’s peaks; 80 kilometeres of sinuous coastlines conformed by bays, inlets, foothills that climb to the sky, and rocky shorelines that have been worn by the crashing waves and look like the eggs of gigantic beings – dinosaurs or dragons or whatever you’d like to imagine. Because here, under the auspices of this park’s beauty, we are invited to dream.
Here’s more detailed information about Tayrona and the seemingly infinite things you can do when you visit:
Getting there: Getting to this Paradise is child’s play. All you have to do is follow the Troncal Caribe north. There are several entrances. Choose according to what you’re looking for: some lead straight to beautiful beaches while others snake through a tropical and ecological jungle, leading you to the ruins of Tayrona’s ancestors.
You can’t get lost, as all roads turn left. The entrance of Palangana, located just 10 kilometers from Santa Marta, is the first of the park and can take you directly to the Neguanje Beach; the entrance of Calabazo will bring you closer to the most important archeological relics of Pueblito and Teyuna; the Zaino Entrance, in the Canaveral Sector, will bring you to the Chayrama Museum and the must-see Eco-habs (the best eco lodges in the Caribbean).
What to do: It might feel overwhelming, having to choose from the possibilities of Tayrona. It’s important to prioritize and, perhaps, you’ll be lucky and steal extra time to do more than your time budgeted for!
The Sea: The Caribbean waters are bewitching. Under the delicate tones, an underwater world conformed by coral reefs (elk corals, lettuce, brain and black) are inhabited by gente creatures: marine turtles, manta rays, colorful tropical fish, sea urchins, elusive moray eels just to name a few. And everything is close in these warm waters that wet the whimsical coast of Tayrona Park where there aren’t dangerous winds or treasonous currents.
With these amazing conditions, scuba diving and snorkeling are two favorite activities, guided by men and women from Taganga who have made the sea their life. El Cantil, Punta Granate, el Morrito Lago and Isla Aguja are some of the many diving spots where you can experience the magic of these Caribbean waters and observe the incredible beauty of colorful coral patches filled with life.
Sun, sea and beach:What about the beaches? The beaches in Tayrona can’t be compared to any other place in the Caribbean. There’s a catalogue of such beauty it’s almost impossible to describe them. Nevertheless, you can wander through the park, discovering the beauty of Playa Blanca, Bonito Gordo, Playa Cristal, Neguanje, Gaicara, Concha Bay and more.
Camping: In these natural, idyllic places, you can camp under a canopy of a million stars hanging from their nocturnal vault. (Though there are some places in Tayrona you cannot camp. Campsites are always marked) There are two campsites, highly recommended: Cañaveral and Arrecifes, sectors that offer an infrastructure that includes food, camping zones – meeting points for travelers from around the world who you can share your journey and experiences with.
And if you’re looking for an even more memorable experience, try the Eco-habs – eco-lodges that are a leader in the world of lodging with an environmental commitment; their design, materials, and the spectacular panorama that they offer come together to provide a spiritual atmosphere. They are near Cañaveral, just steps away from the Museo Chayrama. Ideally situated near the museum that showcases the legendary cultural and historic legacy of Tayrona.
Hiking: The ecological walks in Tayrona are priceless. An amalgamation of experiences live in each step you take, and the energy of the park is undeniable, as each step is filled with magic. Tayrona is considered by the indigenous people that inhabit it “the Heart of the World.” Hiking in Tayrona National Park combines the mystery of the past – archeology – with the spiritual experience of the jungle, and finally the enchantment of the sea, ceruline sky, and golden beaches. A combination like no other.
The park is a conglomeration of three intensely green eco-systems: the dry jungle, humid jungle and cloud forest. A hiker can see how her steps take her from one eco-system to the other, courted by the rich biodiversity of the jungles – ceibas, trupillos, caracolies, bromelias, orchids, heliconias, avocados, guaimaros and more. These are just a handful of the species of flora, not counting the birds and butterflies and other exotic species of insects and animals. And for those who love to hike, make sure you take the path of Las Nueve Piedras … an unforgettable, beautiful hike in paradise.
Bird watching: The sound track of Tayrona is something that the best musicians in the world envy. For those who admire these virtuosos of music, bird watching is a must-do activity in Tayrona. We’ve already discussed the amazing biodiversity of Colombia. In Tayrona alone, there are more than 400 species of birds. So, bring your binoculars, your camera, and prepare for an unforgettable experience as you observe the hummingbirds’ graceful flight, falcons, owls, pigeons, pelicans, King Vultures, hawks and more.
Nature Tourism: If you’re ready to give your life the gift of nature, don’t hesitate and come to Tayrona. Here, a grand variety of species walk under the canopy of its trees and in this virgin, protected habitat. Under the sea, coral reefs and crops are home to multi-colored fish and crustaceans, mollusks, marine turtles, and thousands of species of invertebrae. In the green mountains, you can spend your time with primates (like the night monkey), the sloth, bats, and deer, felines like jaguars and ocelots and more.
Cultural and Archeological Experiences: The national park breathes the magic and mystery of a thousand-year-old people. This ancient civilization and its archeological sites are as magical as Machu Picchu: ruins that once were places of worship and honor to the Gods. Pueblito and the Lost City were discovered not long ago. Exploring these ruins after a long hike, feeling the air infused with history, magic, and faith, are unforgettable experiences.
Now, it’s your turn to follow the footsteps of our ancestors.
Haz estado aquí? Cuéntanos cómo fue tu experiencia.