La Agencia Travelers went to investigate just how cheap it’s possible to do a two night stay in the amazing Tayrona National Park near Santa Marta :D.
Tayrona, what is that?
Tayrona is a protected national park located just an hour from Santa Marta on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. It’s packed with incredible picturesque nature, like white sand beaches, turquoise blue waters, jungle covered mountains, creeks, rivers and ruins. It also portrays a wide range of wildlife from Caiman aligators to Red-Howler monkeys. Basically it’s an awesome primordial adventureland.
It must be packed with people if it’s that awesome!
It’s not. The rather expensive entrance fee plus the high prices on food and beverages inside keep many travelers from ever going. This is great as it means you can enjoy the scenery mostly undisturbed. However, we want all travelers to have the possibility of experiencing Tayrona. That’s why we went there and found out the cheapest way to spend two nights at the park!
Presenting: The 100-dollar Tayrona budget
This budget is for two persons spending two nights in Tayrona.
34 USD/79.000 COP Tickets (17 USD/39.500 COP each)
20 USD/48.000 COP Sleeping hammock (5 USD/12.000 COP per person per night)
20 USD/46.000 COP Food and water
10 USD/24.000 COP Bus from Santa Marta to Tayrona (2,5 USD/6.000 COP each way)
5 USD/12.000 COP Bus inside Tayrona (1,25 USD/3.000 COP each way)
5 USD/12.000 COP Sodas inside Tayrona (1,25 USD/3.000 COP each)
2 USD/5.000 COP 1,5ltr bottle of water inside Tayrona
100 USD/236.000 COP Total
There you have it, the 100-dollar Tayrona budget! Yes, I did notice that the sum of the budget items only adds up to 96 USD. It just means that some dollars were lost in the rounding up or down of the digits ;).
Now, let’s take a look at the details:
Food and water
Food and drinks are EXPENSIVE inside the park. Bringing your own food is imperative to keeping a low budget. We figured we would be eating six meals in total at the park: Two breakfasts, two lunches and two dinners. So the night before departure we headed to Éxito (supermarket) and this is what we got:
Three loafs of bread, four cans of sardines, a pack of mayonnaise, a pack of strawberry jam, a bottle of salt, three advocados, two tomatoes, four eggs, cream cheese, chocolate cookies, salt crackers, six liters of water, two guyaba manzanas, two grenadillas, one zapote and one pineapple.
We weren’t sure if it was possible to cook inside the park, so we decided to have sandwhiches for every meal. It turned out that there was some sort of kitchen where we camped so we could have brought stuff to cook. The sandwhich plan actually worked out pretty well though. It was not luxurious but you have to remind yourself that you are in Tayrona to experience the incredible nature, not to eat gourmet food.
The food we brought was more than enough, however the six liters of water did not suffice. Due to the heat and the trek to and from the beaches you should bring at least two liters of water per person per day. You can of course buy water inside the park but it’s more than twice the price of the stores in Santa Marta.
The ticket is the most expensive item in the budget. Foreigners pay the highest price, although locals don’t pay much less. If you really want to save a lot, you can bring your student id (if you happen to be a student of course). The price for students is just 3,5 USD/8.500 COP and this applies even if you are a student outside of Colombia.
The hammocks are the cheapest option. They are quite comfortable and are covered by a mosquito net but don’t expect to get a great nights sleep. Even with the net you have to wear a heavy coat of DEET to keep the mosquitoes from bothering you.
The cheapest transport to Tayrona is the public bus which departs from the intersection of Calle 11 and Carrera 11 in Santa Marta. It’s right at the market and it’s easy to get lost so ask around. Once you are inside Tayrona you can take a small bus to the start of the trek which is recommendable. Otherwise you would have to walk twice as much in the smoldering heat!
Go to Tayrona, now!
So there you have it folks! How to enjoy the beautiful Tayrona Park on a budget. We hope you get a chance to go! If you already went and have more awesome low budget tips, please share them with us in a comment below :).