Travel guide to Tayrona National Park

Travel guide to Tayrona National Park

Palm trees, beautiful sandy beaches, crystal clear water, crocodiles, coconuts, Carribean sea, monkeys, coral reef, jungle, nature, horse riding in the jungle, snorkeling, huge boulders. All of this is possible in Tayrona National Park. You have beautiful Caribbean coast and behind you have the jungle of Sierra Nevada, which is the worlds highest mountain coastal range. This travel guide to Tayrona National Park gives you important information you will need before you come to Tayrona.

How to get to Tayrona National Park

The most common way to reach Tayrona is from Santa Marta. Santa Marta is a big city, on the Caribbean coast, it is a transit city, from there you can visit a lot of popular places nearby. There is not much to do there, I personally didn’t like the atmosphere. I have heard good recommendations about Taganga, but we didn’t go here, it’s very close to Santa Marta, more relaxed, small beach town. We stayed a night in Santa Marta, left the big bags in the hostel (I recommend you do the same and take just the small bag with you), this is common in Santa Marta, most of the people leave the big bags there before they leave to Tayrona. To reach Tayrona catch a bus in Santa Marta market (Plaza Mercado), is the same place where you can catch buses to Minca. The ride takes you one hour, tell the ticket guy that you need to get off in El Zaino. The bus ride costs 8.000 COP (2,2€;2,5$).

When you reach Tayrona national park

When we stepped off the bus, a girl came to us, she asked us where do we want to camp, she said that the main beach (Cabo San Juan) is full, which was ok with us, we didn’t want to stay there anyway. She asked us where we want to stay and we told her we want to stay at Arrecifes beach, its cheaper than Cabo. You have 2 camps in Arrecifes (San Pedro and Andrez Bermudez), we stayed in camp Andres Bermudez. We paid for two nights to the girl, she gave us the receipt and told us to show it when we reach the camp. Tent for two costs 60.000 COP (16,8€;19$) per night.

You paid for the accommodation, now you need to pay insurance, for the time you spend in the park. You have two types, one is 2.500 COP (0,7€;0,8$), one is 3.500 COP (1€;1,1$) per day, you pick the one you want, the difference is that one covers more than the other, we choose the one for 3.500 COP. They charged us for two days, she told us that on the third day we need to pay in the park but we didn’t.

Now you can finally move to the entrance of the park to buy the ticket. In the beginning, we had the feeling that we are entering an amusement park or something like that: pay this, pay that, go in the line here, wait here. Alcohol is not allowed (but you can buy it inside), plastic bags are not allowed, sometimes they check your bags. They didn’t check ours.
When you pay the entrance, which cost 53.500 COP (15€;17$), you are ready to enter the park. Finally.

What to do in Tayrona national park

We walked like 2 hours to reach our camp, we were staying at Arrecifes beach, in camping Andrez Bermudez).

Beautiful view helps you to walk

We got a nice tent with 2 pillows and a thin mattress, view on the beach.

Camping In Tayrona

You are not allowed to swim at Arrecifes beach, it is actually very dangerous. Beach to swim is called Arenila, it’s around 15 minutes walk from our camp, the walk is beautiful, in the shade of the coconut trees through the jungle.

Sweet water source in Tayrona
Travel guide to Tayrona national park

You will see a lot of wildlife on the way, we saw caymans, reptiles, and monkeys.

If you look very close, this is a cayman in his natural enivironment

I liked the beach next to us the most, it’s small, fewer people, more chilled, how I like it. The sea is beautiful, refreshing, the cleanest I have ever been in when you are standing in the water, you can see your feet.

Arenila beach
Huge boulder on the Arenila beach

Its a lot of underwater life here, so snorkeling equipment is highly recommended, if you don’t have it, you can borrow it in Tayrona, it costs 15.000 COP (4,2€;4,7$) per hour. Beaches are not totally on the sun, its possible to find the shade as well.

Cabo beach is around 1-hour walk away and if you are not staying there, you should most definitely go to check it out.

Cabo San Juah beach
Us on Cabo San Juan beach

Where to eat in Tayrona national park

For the first and the second day, we had food and water with us. Once we ate at the restaurant Fabi, located on playa Arenila. Food is good but the prices are high and the portions are small so since then we only ate at the bakery (Panederia Bere) and from fast food stalls (arepas in many ways). Not a lot of options for a budget traveler, it was a bit disturbing for me, but it was only for two days, so I managed. I really liked natural juices, they sell squeezed natural juices from many fruits, which were compared to other prices pretty cheap so we had a lot of them. Healthy and delicious.

Costs of visiting Tayrona national park

Visiting Tayrona is not cheap, you need to pay the entrance fee, camping is pricy, food, water as well. If you want to save some money bring snacks and water, we brought some tuna, bread, tomatoes, nuts, peanuts, and water. I recommend you bring as much water as you can (they sell big plastic bags of water up to 6 liters in the supermarkets, you can put it in your bag and save space). I also recommend some peanut butter, cans, and stuff that will not spoil, cause there is no fridge.

Here are some prices to give you a better idea:

Tent 30.000 COP (8,4€;9,4$) per person
Hammock 25.000 COP (7€;7,9$) per person
Entrance 53.500 COP (15€;16,8$)
Insurance 2.500/3.500 COP per day
1 liter of water 5000 COP (1,4€;1,6$)
Toilet paper 3.000 COP (0,85€;0,9$)
Black coffee 2.000 COP (0,6€;0,63$)
Coca Cola 5.000 COP (1,4€;1,6$)
Freshly squeezed juice 5.000 COP (1,4€;1,6$)
Chicken rice 25.000 COP (7€;7,9$)
Pasta with chicken 22.000 COP (6,1€;6,9$)
Bread in the bakery Panaderia Bere (cheese, chocolate, marmalade, cheese with tomato and oregano) 5.000 COP (1,4€;1,6$)
Wifi access 5.000 COP (1,4€;1,6$)
Bus ticket from Santa Marta to Tayrona 8.000 COP (2,2€;2,5$).

What to bring with you to Tayrona national park

It, of course, depends on how many days you are staying, here is a basic what to bring with you Tayrona list:

Swimming suit
Shorts/skirts
2 pair of t-shirts
Long sleeve jacket for potentially cold nights
Long pants
Towel
Dress for the beach
Flip flops
Earplugs for noisy nights (for me it was people snoring in the night and rooster in the morning)
Toilet paper
Soap
Mosquito repellent
Sunscream

If you plan to visit San Gil, this might be interesting for you: best things to do in San Gil.

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