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How to visit Tayrona National Park

How to visit Tayrona National Park

Are you thinking of exploring Colombia? I’ll show you how to visit Tayrona National Park, an incredible gem full of nature and beautiful views. Keep reading!

Tayrona is an ancestral place located on the Colombian Caribbean coast. In this fantastic place, you will find the ocean, beaches, mountains, snow-capped mountains, mangroves, reefs, and forests, so if you have an adventurous soul, this place is ideal for you!

Finally, my dream of visiting Tayrona came true!

I always get very excited when I travel, but that feeling was different this time. It was deeper because I would visit a place everyone talked about and always wanted to go to when I lived in Colombia.

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How to visit Tayrona National Park

Where is Tayrona Park, and how to get there?

Tayrona National Park is one hour away from Santa Marta, Colombia. If you are traveling by plane, this is the closest city; you can take public transportation or pay for a private shuttle that will drop you off at the park entrance.

We chose to rent a car because we planned to visit Tayrona, Palomino and Guachaca, so it seemed more comfortable and fun to make a road trip on our own.

The road trip from Barranquilla took about 4 hours with some stops. We crossed La Cienaga Grande of Santa Marta and enjoyed a beautiful sunset passing through the city of Santa Marta on the way to Tayrona.

Traveler insight

Renting a car avoids cash negotiations with informal carriers and public transportation, which is cheap but not necessarily the most comfortable or the safest. If you go by rented car, prepare cash, Colombia is full of tolls!

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How to enter Tayrona Park?

There are three entrances to enter the park: El Zaino, Calabazo and Palangana. We entered through El Zaino. From there, you can walk along the road or continue in your car to the parking lot, and there you will find the path that will take you to Cabo San Juan.

Traveler insight: 

I recommend you arrive before 10 am as the entrance quotas are limited, and you will avoid long lines.

How to get to Cabo San Juan?

Visiting Tayrona National Park

Here is where the adventure begins! First, you will enjoy a walk that goes into the jungle. If you are lucky like us, you can see the monkeys in their natural habitat. On the way, you will climb a slope between gigantic prehistoric stones embedded in the mountain. It is surprising to be in the middle of the jungle and hear the roar of the waves, which you can see when you reach the top of the mountain.

Traveler’s Insight:

Wear closed shoes or hiking boots; the path is rocky, with climbs and swamps.

Although the walk is not complicated, the humidity, the heat, and the backpack weight make the difficulty level a bit challenging. Therefore, I do not recommend it for children or people with some physical condition.

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How to visit Tayrona National Park

Going down the mountain, you will find Playa Cañaveral. Here you will only take a nice photo because swimming is prohibited. After about 45 minutes of following the path through the jungle, you will arrive at Arrecifes Beach. Here is a camping area and little tents to hydrate yourself or enjoy a delicious chocolate bread. Unfortunately, swimming is also prohibited on this beach, so we only passed by.

Traveler insight:

Along the way, we met people who were very stressed or tired because they were unprepared to be in such a wild environment. So carry a good backpack, snacks, and water, and keep your hands as accessible as possible!

Further on, you will find La Piscina beach, where you can get into the water! You can also take mini diving and snorkeling courses. After about 15 minutes, you will find the most awaited part of the tour: Cabo San Juan del Guia.

Traveler insight:

If you don’t have too much time or do not want to walk to Cabo San Juan, you can get there by boat from Taganga (50 minutes of navigating). The trip could not be too pleasant because the tide is strong.

What to do in Tayrona?

There are plans for all tastes: you can go hiking, horseback riding, camping, swimming, diving, or sunbathing all day on the beach.

Cabo San Juan is the most beautiful beach of the entire route and the only one where you will see the famous kiosk on a cluster of rocks next to the sea. Here you can spend the night in a hammock and watch the sunrise and sunset that paints the beaches of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.

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Cabo San Juan, Tayrona

Where to sleep in Tayrona?

You can rent a hammock, a tent for one or two people, or bring your own tent. The rental site is at the entrance of Cabo San Juan. If you want to secure the sun loungers at the kiosk, you must arrive early because there are no prior reservations. We opted to rent a tent for $50,000 COP per person per night (13 USD approx). The tents are in good condition and have a double mattress and pillows.

Traveler insight:

The rainiest months in Tayrona Park are September and October. During this time, I recommend sleeping in a hammock. In the tent, you feel the warmth and humidity.

What to do in Cabo San Juan del Guía?

Here you can enjoy the beach and snorkel in one of the most beautiful places in Tayrona Park. You can walk about 20 minutes to the nudist beach Boca de Saco and get completely naked into the sea. Cabo San Juan is a perfect place for those who enjoy the simple pleasures of nature, like seeing the stars, listening to the waves, and waking up to see the sunrise.

Traveler insight:

Cabo San Juan del Guia has a restaurant that offers decent food and natural juices, bathrooms with shared showers, an office to schedule snorkeling tours, and a first aid station.

How many days are ideal to be in Tayrona Park?

It all depends on how adventurous you are or how many activities you want to do. We spent one night, and I think it was enough to enjoy the beach of Cabo San Juan.

You have a few options to leave the park: return on the boats to Taganga at 4 pm, take the path on foot along the trail, or return on horses accompanied by a guide for a cost of COP 100,000. ($25) per person.

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Traveler insight:

We returned on a horse, and although it was an unforgettable experience, it is not recommended for people without experience since it requires skills to ride on mountain trails.

I hope you enjoyed this article about how to visit Tayrona! Leave a comment if you have any questions about traveling to Tayrona Park in Colombia!

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