Updated: Mar 10, 2019
16th - 18th September 2018
We got the public bus from Santa Marta to Tayrona National Park. It's easy to find and everyone around the bus is saying ‘Tayrona? Tayrona?’ at you so that went well.
We bundled in with the locals and began our hour-long journey to Tayrona. The bus driver's main man hops on and off the bus delivering goods every now and again, shouting 'GO!’ to the driver, who drives off, and he sprints alongside the bus and jumps back on. It's tiring to watch...
We were staying at La Brisa Tranquila at Costeno Beach. As much as it might feel like the right thing to do, don't get off the bus when the guy yells 'Tayrona Park!’, wait for the next stop for Costeno Beach. We got off at Tayrona, got our bags, then had to get back on the packed bus and balance like our lives depended on it for another 10 speedy minutes. My muscles ached afterwards.
There is a very long lane to the hostel, which we walked down… error. I mean, we saw an enormous lizard and some gorge butterflies en route, but I think I'd have preferred to grab a mototaxi to the hostel. They hang around at the bus stop, and, if there isn't one there immediately, there will be one there in moments.
Brisa Tranquila was nice enough. It was on the beach which was beautiful, but you're advised not to swim as the water is rough. We spent a lot of time hanging out in the beach hammocks, using the WiFi. The rooms were ok; the beds were legit comfy and each bed had a fan and mosquito net but when you weren't in bed, it was sweltering (this comes with the territory). The staff were lovely, but the food wasn't great. There were a mix of guests; some partiers some not (us), but we spoke to loads of ace peeps who offered us some excellent South America advice.
The next day we were up early to head into the Park. We got mototaxis to the entrance, so much fun - and a cooling, 15 minute breeze, and a 5 minute bus to the start of the walk. It took us 2 hours to get the swimming beaches - La Piscina/San Juan Cabo, but we stopped regularly for nature photos and water breaks. It was SO. HOT. Apply suncream as much as you can… we thought we'd been sensible, but ended up burning loads. Error.
The wildlife is amazing: we saw Cotton-Top Tamarins which are endangered (</3) and only found in northern Colombia, we saw lizards (naturally) and were charmed by the leaf-cutter ants. They really are incredible. We didn't see many birds because (did I mention?) it was just too hot. They were vocal on our way back around 3:30pm though.
We had a lovely time swimming at the beach, and i was lucky enough to borrow Homero’s snorkel (we met him on the bus: New Yorker hailing from Medellin *shout out*). The fish were beautiful, but I wouldn't have wanted to rent a snorkel… a bit spenny.
The walk back was hell. if you are going to TNP in September, be very careful in the sun and take shit-loads of water. We passed quite a few people struggling with the walk.
Needless to say, I was extremely glad to be leaving TNP/Costeno Beach when we did. I'm still adapting to the heat, and 2 nights was plenty in such a humid place.
At first I thought that we should have gone to Minca first before Tayrona due to ease of transport. I have revised my opinion, and would recommend Tayrona first… Minca is much cooler and will be welcomed respite from the heat. Unless you are a sun-worshipper… in which case go. To. Town.
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