East of the city of Santa Marta on the Caribbean coast of Colombia lies the gorgeous, rugged Parque Tayrona, a true feast for all of the senses. The park doesn't have roads--you have to hike or go by boat in order to get past the entrance--so we had a local fisherman drop us off via boat on the beach at Cabo San Juan del Guia, where palm trees drop coconuts at regular intervals. We went to work right away and cracked one open on a nearby rock, quenching our thirst with its juice and perfect meat.
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Sleeping in a Hamaca in Parque Tayrona
Travelers in Paque Tayrona on the Caribbean coast of Colombia have three choices when it comes to resting their heads: pitch a tent, sleep in a hamaca, or rent a high end cabana (to the tune of $200 US+ per night). We were feeling adventurous (and not excited about sleeping in a stuffy tent in the jungle heat, or blowing our budget on a cabana), so we rented hamacas at a small outfit near the beach at Arrecifes. It was a long, hot night punctuated by the occasional thud of coconuts falling from the palms outside the hamaca shelter and the sleep sounds of fellow travelers. Poetic though the experience was, when we emerged at dawn the next morning, we were ready to down a cup of coffee and trek onward and out toward the comfort of more "civilized" accomodations.
After taking part in one of Barranquilla’s major carnival festives, Danza del Garabato, and enjoying the nightlife in Cartagena, we took off in a divergent direction – to Parque Tayrona, located in Colombia's northern region of Santa Marta.
Parque Tayrona is a place that gives you the freedom to make it whatever you want it to be. The 45 minute to three hour hike can be tiring - especially during the sun’s peak hours. But the trek is most certainly rewarding. Each beach dispersed throughout the park’s Caribbean Sea coast has unique beauty and charm. Tayrona is serene, yet equally wild. It wasn’t until recently that the park became a common tourist destination, as previous associations with the narcotics trade and the civil war hindered the parks remarkable natural beauty.
Waking up on a swaying hammock to the soothing hum of the palm trees and the waves crashing just steps away was enchanting. As the sun set, the sounds of reggae music would entwine. The rhythms further embodied the warm vibrations during our stay – we never wanted to leave. The tranquil atmosphere that surrounds Parque Tayrona was a better de-stressor than any tidy hotel room could be.
The most common accommodation in Tayrona is hammock rental (C$12,000-C$20,000). Renting out camping grounds is also very common and inexpensive. Most camping grounds do have public restrooms and some even have restaurants, however make sure to pack provisions.