Tayrona National Park
Our hotel organized a taxi to take us to Tayrona National Park very early. With a packed lunch, we were off to the park. I suggest starting early at the park. It is blazing hot by noon. Upon arrival, you are forced to gather around a small TV that shows a fact-filled video about the park. The video is entirely in Spanish so we didn’t comprehend one word of it. When the video ends, a man guides you to another line, where you wait to pay for admission into the park (42000 COP). This line took forever. There are 2 windows and the women ask to see your passport or ID before giving you a ticket. We didn’t bring our passports to the park but she was fine with our ID’s (even a photo of your passport is acceptable). The woman in the booth sticks a wristband on your arm and you then have to load into a white van filled with other visitors. You pay the driver 3000 COP per person to take you farther into the park where the trail begins. While you can walk the path from the entrance to the trail head, it is LONG. Not only is it long but it’s very hot and steamy. The van was only a few pesos and I highly recommend it. You will need all the energy you have once you enter the park.
Once you enter the park, there is one path that eventually takes you all the way to Cabo San Juan. This is a beautiful beach that takes about 2 hours to reach on foot. “2 hours hiking? No problem!” Wrong. It is so humid in Colombia. After walking for 15 minutes, you are dripping in sweat. Luckily, most of the path is shaded from the sun but you will still be hot due to the 87% humidity. The scenery is beautiful. You will hike past flowers, horses, monkeys and huge ants carrying leaves. After about 45 minutes of hiking, you will reach the first view-point. Although it was crowded by other tourists, it was a nice place to take a break and finally see the ocean.
There are other beaches along the trail but there will be signs that state you cannot swim in them. In fact, we saw one sign that said how many people have drowned in the water there previously. You will keep walking until you come across the first beach that you can swim in. This is not Cabo San Juan. That, which is about another 30-45 minutes ahead. The first beach is such a relief. By the time you reach this beach, you will be covered in sweat and dirt. We jumped right into the water and the water temperature was perfect. The beach is very busy but that is to be expected with the heat.
After spending about an hour at the first beach, we kept walking towards Cabo San Juan. You will come across another beach but we decided not to stop there. After passing horses and monkeys, we finally reached Cabo San Juan. You will see a long line of people waiting for something. They are waiting to figure out their camping situations. We weren’t camping in the park so we ignored the line. You will pass a packed restaurant. Keep walking and you will immediately be stunned by the beauty of Cabo San Juan.
The water was perfect at Cabo San Juan. We spent a lot of time just letting the waves wash over us. The water is calm here but it gets deep fast. If you are scared of fish, I probably wouldn’t recommend this beach. Fish were swimming around us and one other tourist even had a fish run into her leg. After spending over an hour at Cabo San Juan, we decided to start the 2 hour trek back to the park entrance. Our hotel arranged for a taxi to pick us up at a specific time. The walk back was one of the most tiring hikes I have ever done. Not only are you hot but you have been swimming in the sun all day. At one point, my legs were propelling my body forward but I have no idea how! On the way back, we found a rock formation that you can climb to see a beautiful view of the mountains and ocean meeting together.
I felt like I won an Olympic medal by the time we reached the white van that was going to drive us to the park entrance. Again, you pay the driver 3000 COP per person to take you back to where you entered. I would highly recommend a day at Tayrona National Park. A lot of people camped there and that is probably less tiring since you would have more time to see the park. You can reach Cabo San Juan in 1 day but be warned that you will be more tired than ever. We fell asleep on the way from the park back to our hotel. I couldn’t even keep my eyes open at dinner that night. Tayrona National Park is beautiful and adventurous. Although it was tiring, I felt so accomplished and fit after completing the hike.