The north coast of Colombia feels like a different world from the rest of the country, and also the rest of South America. The food, weather, music and the people are all distinctively Caribbean.
The city of Cartagena is the most beautiful in the country, arguably in all of Latin America, and Santa Marta is an important historic city, being the second oldest Spanish city on the continent. One of the real highlights of the region though is one that is all about natural beauty, and that is Tayrona National Park. Just 20 miles from Santa Marta it is a large area of stunning beaches, jungle, wildlife, mountains and ocean.
Getting dropped off at the entrance to the park is just the start of the adventure, once inside you must explore by foot, either your own or those of a hired horse’s! There are many miles of sandy jungle trails to follow, and if you are careful to be quiet you will see inquisitive monkeys overhead and even small agoutis off to the side rustling through the bushes.
You can stay in the unique ‘Ecohabs’ which are charming, rustic bungalows perched on the hill overlooking one of the prettiest beaches you’re likely to see. There are dozens more beaches to be discovered along the trails too, the popular La Piscina and Cabo San Juan are the best for swimming but there are dozens more and it’s not at all hard to find one where the only company you will have are the bright blue crabs that will scuttle into their holes if you try and get too close.
If you have had enough time relaxing on the amazing beaches then you can discover some of the local archaeology. Pueblito is the remains of a 500 year old jungle village that can be reached with a few hours of trekking. It has small fragments of the stone paths and huts that the native Tayrona civilisation built here. And if this whets your appetite you could even consider the track to Colombia’s famous lost city or ‘Ciudad Perdida’ which lies far deeper into the nearby Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Tayrona is also a Marine National Park, it has excellent snorkelling and Scuba Diving is available from Taganga, a small fishing village just 10 minutes away from Santa Marta or a short boat trip from inside the park. There are 22 dive sites within the boundaries of Tayrona, with a variety of reefs, caves and even wrecks. There is a huge biodiversity of marine life here including Octopi, Lionfish, Pufferfish, Lobsters and even Turtles or Stingrays. It’s a great place to take some underwater pictures too.
So whether you are looking for wildlife, beaches, relaxation, history, eco-tourism or scuba diving Tayrona is a must visit for anyone going to Colombia.
Tayrona's weather is pretty pleasant all year round so any time is a good time to visit. The hottest month is July with an average maximum temperature of 33°C and the coolest month is January with an average minimum temperature of 24°C.
Embrace your adventurous side and try snorkelling and scuba diving (available from Taganga) at the Marine National Park.
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