plava brava
Travels diaries

Colombia: trek in Tayrona Park

The national and natural Tayrona park is one of the most popular parks in Colombia. It is located in the extreme north of the country, along with the Caribbean coast. This park is famous for the hike and the paradisaical beaches. How could I resist? Thus, I decided to hike there for 2 days and I’m going to tell you everything about it!

How to access?

The departure point is in Santa Marta. This city is the closest and most accessible to enter easily in Tayrona Park. From Santa Marta, there are collectivos leaving every 30-45min for the park. The single way costs 7 000COP/pers.

Once you’re in the collectivo, you have two possibilities: enter through Zaino (the main entrance) or through El Calaboza (the secondary entrance). In both cases, you have to a fee entrance of 68 500 COP, valid during 3 days if you don’t get out of the park.

If you decide to enter through El Calaboza, you have to precis it to the driver, even if it is on the way, the collectivo doesn’t stop each time.

tayrona map

My itinerary for 2 days

You know me, I don’t like touristic circuits and each time I can, I avoid them. And, this is what I have done here (partially) for my trek in Tayrona park during the 2 days.

Day one: From El Calaboza to Playa Brava

I start my trek from the secondary entrance, El Calaboza. I’m the only one to get off the collectivo at this “stop”. From there, there is only one path: the one for El Pueblito. I go through the guardian office to pay my fee entrance (the guardians look surprised to see someone coming). Then I start my hike in the forest. Quickly, the path goes steep and I have to climb for a long time. In the middle of the hike, the path slips in two ways: one for El Pueblito and the other one for Playa Brava. I take the direction of playa brava because this is where I’m going to sleep. Finally, I start going down and I can see the sea. After walking for 2h, I arrive in Playa Brava.

plava brava

The hike of today was short but intense. Even if I walked in the forest and thus in the shades, it was very hot and humid. Anyway, I’m glad to arrive at the beach in the middle of the day. Now, I just have to enjoy and rest for tomorrow! And I have a bonus: tonight, I sleep in a hammock with a view of the sea (for 30 000COP).

plava brava

Day 2: From Playa Brava to Zaino

This time, I’m not going to do the same mistake as yesterday. I leave early in the morning to avoid as much as possible the heat. At 6.30am, I start to hike and I take the direction of El Pueblito. Despite my early start, the climb is still hard with the humidity. After climbing for 1H20, I arrive at El Pueblito. This village is the free and smaller version of the Ciudad Perdida (the lost city). One good replacement solution if you don’t want to do the 5 days trek for the Ciudad Perdida.

tayrona parkAfter one more hour, I reach the El Cabo de San Juan camping. From there, I can see the crowd again. Since El Calaboza until here, I nearly saw no one during the hike, maybe 5-6 persons maximum. But now, I feel like the beach is crowded.

Then, I continue to walk and to cross the other beaches. I enjoy then, relax and rest a little bit. After I left El Cabo for 2h30, I finally arrive at Zaino, the end of the hike.

My impressions

The park is beautiful, really beautiful. To walk along the beaches and in the forest is a real pleasure. However, what I loved the most is to be alone. There was no tourist from El Calaboza to El Cabo de San Juan. Unfortunately, this also means there is no shop to buy water or food during the hike. From El Cabo, you will find shops all along the road very easily. And of course, there are very expensive too ( Two or three times more expensive than in the city) and the meals are expensive too (25 to 30 000 COP for one basic meal).

tayrona park

Concerning the hike itself, it is not very difficult. The hardest point is the heat and humidity which combine to the effort give you thirsty. So don’t forget to take a lot of water with you.

One important detail very well managed in the park is the indication. The directions are very well and sometimes you can even find maps. It is complicated to get lost and most of the time, there is only one path.

Personally, two days in Tayrona Park were enough for me. Even if the second day was a bit long, I don’t regret it. I like the beach but mostly as a landscape. To stay on the beach, lying down or sitting during hours, is not really for me. I get bored quickly. Thus, one day at the Playa Brava and small breaks the next day were enough for me.

1, 2 or 3 days?

You can stay in the park during 1, 2 or 3 days in the park and the fee entrance will be the same. It is your choice to decide how long you want to stay. But you have to know that there is nothing to do except enjoy the beaches. There is no wifi, no network, nothing that could divert you except if you bring a book with you. In some camping, there is no electric plug to charge your phone or camera neither.

One day

If you want to stay only one day, I advise you to arrive early in the morning to enjoy it the maximum. Indeed, if you want to go to El Cabo beach, it will take you 2h to go there and 2h to come back, at least.

Two days

Most of the time, people choose to stay for 2 days to enjoy the beaches but mostly to sleep in a hammock. Several campings offer a night in a hammock with a view of the sea. The most popular is, of course, El Cabo de San Juan. The typical circuit for two days is to enter in Zaino, walk until El Cabo, sleep here and go out through Zaino again.

If you prefer to do a loop and to see something else than the typical touristic tour, you can do the itinerary I did for 2 days.

tayrona park

Three days

During three days, you can take your time to relax and enjoy the Tayrona park. The circuit I advise you to do is the same I did in 2 days. However, you can stay one night in El Cabo camping. Thus, you will have smaller hikes and you can enjoy and rest more on the beaches.

The equipment

Like each time you want to do a trek, you have to be prepared and need some equipment. I’m talking about the minimum you need for the Tayrona park especially if you want to avoid the touristic road. So, here is my list (not – exhaustive) of what I advice you to take with you:

  • walking shoes: yes you are going to the beach but to go there, you have to walk on stone and dust path. If you only have tongs, it will be a nightmare to walk …
  • repellent: Mandatory if you stay the night! During the day, it’s too hot for the bugs, but the evening and the night they go out and are very hungry…
  • sunscreen: mandatory especially if you want to tan on the beach
  • water: I know it is heavy but you are going to the thirsty, so take at least 1.5L per person. However, you can buy it (for an expensive price) between El Cabo and Zaino.
  • Hat: Even if you walk if the forest most of the time, some portions are in the sun and at this moment you will need a hat to protect you from the sun.
  • sunglasses: The white sand of the beach may blind you 😉
  • flashlight: All the places are not illuminated in the camping and the night comes quickly and soon.
  • swimsuit and beach towel
  • book, card game, etc.

Now, you know everything about the Tayrona park, this magnificent park where you have hikes and beaches!

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