Tayrona National Park: the most beautiful part of Colombia

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Most people say Tayrona National Park is the most beautiful part of Colombia. The national park, in the north of the country, is indeed a gem. You will find beautiful beaches, rainforests, a breathtaking starry sky at night and clear water. However keep in mind it's not hidden anymore and in recent years it got very busy. Still, it's definitely worth adding to your bucket list.
Tayrona is about 5 kilometres from Santa Marta, and is colombia's most famous national park. You will find 150 km2 of jungle, kilometers of beach and with some luck you will come across some wildlife.

White fronted capuchin monkey, Tayrona National Park, Colombia

For a visit to Tayrona National Park you need to come prepared. You have a lot of different choices that can make a big difference how you experience the National Park. Below you will find all the information you need to make your trip unforgettable. 

Staying overnight in the Park

We recommend that you stay overnight in the park, it is truly an unique experience. There are a number of campsites in the park where you can camp. You can bring your own gear, but you can also rent it. Renting a tent and mattress will cost you around COP$20,000 per person. However you still have to bring your own pillow and blanket. These are the three campsites:

Cabo San Juan
The most popular campsite is in Cabo San Juan. This is also the busiest and the most touristy due to its location on a beautiful beach. This is also the campsite with the most beautiful views (at sea). The campsite is located on a beautiful bay. Be aware: it fills up quickly. 

Cañaveral
This is a campsite that is first reached when you enter the park. It is also accessible by car and it is close to the ecohabs and has a nice beach. It is a lot quieter than the campsite of Cabo San Juan.

Bukaru
If crowds aren't your thing at all, you can also camp on Bukaru. It is 1.5 to 2 hours walking through the jungle. The Bukaru campsite is much quieter than Cabo San Juan and Cañaveral, but you can't swim here.

Snorkeling

There are a few good snorkeling spots in Tayrona National Park. La Piscina Beach and Cabo San Juan both offer a fantastic underwater world, with colorful, protected coral from the Caribbean coast.

Prices for renting snorkel gear vary from seller to seller and it depends if you are there in high or low season. Count on no more than 5 us dollar for a snorkel set for the day. Another option is to buy snorkel gear in Santa Marta which is much cheaper.

Swimming

One of the best beaches in South America is located in this park. Make sure to explore the beaches, as there are many places. Don't swim at the beach of Arrecifes and Bukaru, as there are extremely dangerous undercurrents there.

Entrance fees and opening hours

The entrance fee to the park is COP$56,000 for tourists. It's worth staying in the park for a few days. Especially since you have to pay 14 us dollar to get in. The entrance fee is valid for several days, so the more days you stay in the park, the cheaper the entrance fee is. We recommend to spend at least one night in the park. The park is open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. If you're smart, make sure you're there at 8 am. At this hour it is not so hot and it will be a lot busier later. 

Please note: Tayrona National Park will be closed in February in 2020. During these periods, the indigenous people will cleanse the park ecologically and spiritually.Picture of spiritual leader "Mamo" of the Kogui indigenous people at the Lost City

Hiking

You can easily stay at Tayrone for a few days to explore all the trails. Most of the trails are along the coast, but also inland you will find some beautiful hiking trails.
The most famous walks are those to the campsites and along the coast. However, you can also go to the ruins of a small old town, known as 'Pueblito' (Little Town). El Pueblito offers a unique ruin of the Tayrona Indians.

Go to the famous place El Cabo San Juan

El Cabo San Juan is located in the immediate vicinity of the park and actually offers you everything you need to relax on holiday. Think of a white beach, nice warm and above all calm water, lots of palm trees and a lovely sun.
It is safer to swim in the sea at El Cabo San Juan than at Tayrona National Park. If you need a place to stay in El Cabo we recommend to stay at Viajero Hostel Tayrona & Ecohabs.

How to get there?

You can easily reach Tayrona National Park from Santa Marta or Taganga. From this city several public buses drive every day to the nature reserve, you are dropped off in front of the entrance of the nature park.

It costs your COP$10,000 The bus takes about an hour and departs from the central market in Santa Marta. Buses depart every half hour. Once in the park, you can take another shuttle bus for COP$3,000 that will take you to the starting point of the hike. A minivan from Cartagena or Taganga will cost around COP$50,000 per person

Best time to visit

Visit the park between the months December and March (not February since it is closed) or from June till August (this is high season). Outside of these months it is rainy season in Tayrona National Park. Not ideal if you're trekking a long way through the jungle. Click here for more climate details.

Written by our reporter and co-founder Jan:

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This article was last updated on October 30, 2020.