The Tayrona National Park, in Colombia, is one of those places that makes you feel at peace with the world. Where you can walk barefoot all day, sit in front of roaring waves, sleep in a hammock or stay up all night looking at the stars. In short, it is one of the most wonderful places in the world to see before it is too late.
Behind the Tayrona National Park – also known as Parque Nacional Tayrona – there is another world, the world of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. The sacred mountains, the heart of the world according to the ancient indigenous Tayrona culture and their descendants, among the very few pre-Columbian tribes left in South America. These small communities live scattered in the thick forest. You might cross them on the trekking across the park. They are shy and reserved. Their love and respect for the Great Mother is heart-melting, we have a lot to learn from them.
We are only 4 hours drive from Cartagena, but in the air, you can feel the thrill of being far away from the world. To reach Playa Brava, the secret paradise of the Tayrona National Park, we walked for 4 hours following a path that crosses the jungle among tropical trees, monkeys and jaguars (which fortunately we did not cross).
Once arrived in Playa Brava you can choose to sleep in a hammock among other hammocks, each with a mosquito net (€ 8 a night) or in one of the bungalows of the Playa Brava Teyumakke, basic but incredibly charming (€ 46 per night, book in advance!). It will take a couple of minutes to get used to the absence of electricity, the internet or any other connection with the outside world. But then everything becomes magical. The hours pass slowly, lulled by the sound of the waves and the swinging of the hammocks. Sitting in the shade of a palm tree we had an amazing time chatting, sometimes with gestures only, with the few inhabitants of the Playa Brava Teyumakke. They could speak Spanish only, but smiles and hugs can break any barrier.
Book now your bungalow at Playa Brava Teyumakke
How to reach the Tayrona National Park, in Colombia
From Santa Marta we jumped in a local bus (COP 8.000) that dropped us in front of the entrance of the Tayrona National Park after about a one hour drive. There is no real stop, when we got on the bus we simply told the driver that we wanted to get off at the Calabazo entrance. Before entering the Tayrona National Park you must show your passport and the certificate for the Yellow Fever.
You can enter the Tayrona National Park from Calabazo or Zaino. The first leads to Playa Brava while the Zaino entrance, the main, takes you to the most famous and crowded beaches such as Cabo San Juan and El Paraiso.
Tayrona National Park entry fee (updated to August 2019):
COP 53,500 adult, low season
COP 63,500 adult, high season
Practical info to visit the Tayrona National Park in Colombia
- A one-day trip to the Tayrona National Natural Park is not enough.
- You need your passport and Yellow Fever vaccination to enter.
- Leave your big backpack in the storage of your previous hotel. We left ours at the Hotel Marovi of Santa Marta, where we stayed before and after visiting the Tayrona National Park.
- Bring enough cash. There are no ATMs inside the Tayrona National Park and credit cards are not accepted
- Don’t forget repellent, sunscreen and sunglasses.
- Bring water and snacks for the trekking. If necessary you will still find a couple of ‘bars’ on the way to Playa Brava.
- Don’t underestimate the 4 hours walk to reach Playa Brava.
- From Playa Brava you can reach Cabo San Juan in 3 hours following a recently opened path.
- If your destination is Cabo San Juan enter the park via the main entrance: Zaino.
- Go to Playa Brava if you want to be alone.
- In the Tayrona National Park, particularly in Playa Brava, the currents are strong and if going for a swim it can be really dangerous. Don’t do it!