Travel

Visiting Tayrona National Park: Buy tickets in advance online


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After spending the week in Santa Marta taking Spanish lessons, my new German friend (Dani) and I decided we needed some nature in our lives. In the Caribbean region of Colombia, there are many options to explore the beautiful outdoors. The one we had heard about most was Parque Tayrona. 

Friday evening we went to the local supermarket and stocked up on the necessities to make sandwiches, easily eaten and carried fruit (bananas are only a good idea in a container…learned that the hard way before), miscellaneous snacks, and water. We were only staying one night but would be there almost two full days. We decided to only take 3L of water each, knowing we might have to splurge and spend the five mil on a half liter bottle if we ran out. 

After a hearty breakfast, we set off for the bus that leaves from behind the Central Market (or Mercado Público in Spanish on all of my maps). The bus took about an hour and the price was 6.000 COP. Dani even got a front and center seat. 

Bus from Santa Marta to Parque Tayrona
Bus from Santa Marta to Tayrona Park

We had purchased our Parque Tayrona tickets online two nights before selecting Taquilla Zaino for the zone. The website is in Spanish, but fairly easy to navigate and best to do ahead of time as we just showed our PDF voucher, had our bags searched and into the park we went. We were warned that entrance was limited daily and that there could be long queues if you tried to buy tickets at the park. The online entry ticket for nonstudents/foreigners was 42.000 COP. Passports were required as well. 

Once inside, you can take a collectivo for 3.000 COP the first 5k that drops you at the trailheads. Dani loves horses and we agreed that as long as they looked healthy, we would take one. For 20.000 COP you can take a horse to Arrecifes or for 40.000 COP all the way to El Cabo San Juan del Guia. We decided to take one to Arrecifes and then walk to El Cabo San Juan. It was only my third time on a horse and it was very tranquilo. From the horse and on foot we saw lizards, monkeys, birds, and lots of butterflies! 

Butterfly in nature at Parque Tayrona
Butterfly in Tayrona Park
When we reached El Cabo San Juan, we rented a tent as they were out of hammocks. 20.000 COP each for a 2 person tent. We relaxed on the beach for hours and enjoyed the calmness of Tayrona. We relaxed in the hammocks up in the viewpoint, and watched the sunset.

The next morning we watched the sunrise with the moon still visible. We ate breakfast at the restaurant at Cabo San Juan (12.000 for the complete breakfast with eggs, 6.000 COP for the simple breakfast without eggs). When I asked a man that worked there about another trail out of the park, he said yes there was one to Calabazo but it took about five hours to walk. Concerned about our lack of water and not wanting to get lost, Dani and I decided to just head that way for an hour and then return the way we had originally came, but on foot this time. But soon after getting on the trail, we met a guy from Bogota that had taken this trail into the park so we decided to join him for the journey. 

Sunrise in Parque Tayrona Colombia
Sunrise in paradise

After climbing up rocks, down rocks, and through rocks and still not seeing a trail, we started to second guess our choice. It is not the easiest trail, especially with your bags, but the views of nature are well worth it. Most of the time you are shaded from the sun under the trees and there are plenty of places to stop and admire the view. There is a little tienda about 3 hours into the hike where you can buy drinks (a bag of water was 4.000 COP). Not too far after that there is a local family that sells fresh squeezed orange juice for 3.000 COP. We arrived to Calabazo just after 2pm. Do yourself a favor, especially if you only have one night, and take one way in and a different trail out.

Large tree in Parque Tayrona
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