Tayrona National Park
The Tayrona National Park (Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona) is by far the largest magnet for visitors among Colombia’s national parks.
Its dramatic landscapes and beaches against the backdrop of the world’s highest coastal mountain range, the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, can be seen worldwide on the covers of Colombia’s travel guides.
The park stretches in the northeast of Santa Marta or Taganga over 35 km up to the mouth of the river Piedras and covers about 12000 ha of land and 5000 ha of sea area.
A visit is recommended as part of a day trip, unless you are willing to pay the high prices of the few available accommodations, so-called Eco-Habs. Those who are willing to stay without any comfort can sleep in tents or hammocks in the eastern part of the park.
The park area offers palm lined beaches and bays as well as a mountainous, evergreen rainforest landscape where the remains of Pueblito, as the village of the indigenous Kogui is called, are hiding. A much shorter hike than the several-day trek to the “lost city” deep in the Sierra Nevada leads to its stone platforms, which look like a miniature edition of the legendary Ciudad Perdida.
The Tayrona National Park is not a destination for a classic bathing holiday. Its beaches are beautiful, but not very suitable for swimming. Moreover, one only gets to the different bays by foot or by boat, among which Cabo San Juan del Guía is considered to be the most beautiful.
A rewarding day trip from Santa Marta starts with the bus trip to the main entrance of the national park at El Zaíno. From the parking place, a hike of approximately three hours first leads to the view point Los Naranjos, then to the beaches Arrecifes and La Piscina and finally to the Cabo San Juan del Guía.
Instead of walking back on the same way, one can stay a little longer at the beach and go back to Taganga by boat in order to get back to Santa Marta from there by taxi.
Since April 1, 2017, a yellow fever vaccination is mandatory in order to be admitted into the park.