Tayrona National Park, Colombia

Tayrona National Park sits on Colombia’s Caribbean coastline, 45 minutes north of Santa Marta. Kyle and Meghan had a lot of work to catch up on, so they decided to stay home for the day while Doug and I ventured out. Unfortunately we got a late start, despite all the advice we got from locals about arriving early and spending a full day hiking and enjoying the beaches. Nevertheless, we had a great time!

We arrived around 1PM and immediately started hiking the trail. Doug and I both are easily distracted in nature, so we began at a snail’s pace, stopping often to observe a line of ants or listen for monkeys in the trees overhead. The park offers a wide variety of flora and fauna and there is a lot to take in! We spotted many lizards of myriad colors and sizes—we even accidentally discovered an iguana when Doug pulled a vine and knocked the poor guy from the branch on which he was napping! We spotted butterflies bigger than our hands, which camouflaged themselves perfectly against the dirt and trees until they spread their wings to display a beautiful electric blue on their backs. There were purple and yellow crabs everywhere in the muddy areas that would only creep out of their holes if we stood completely still—any peripheral movement and they would instantly disappear underground.

IMG_6079The most interesting aspect of Tayrona, in my opinion, was the perpetual fluctuation of the ecosystems. Every ten minutes or so the environment would subtly evolve into a completely new aesthetic like the rainbow horse in the Wizard of Oz—from jungle to beach to swamp and back again! One minute we would be climbing up rocks through dense thickets and the next minute we were walking barefoot on white sand along the shore.

Because of our tardiness we didn’t even get to see half of the National Park—apparently the nicest areas were are much further than we were able to trek. Most people who visit Tayrona end up camping out for a few nights or staying at one of the upscale hotels on the grounds. Tayrona also offers a spa, several restaurants and snorkeling (among other activities.) If I could do it again, I would sleep overnight in one of the cozy hammocks and take my time discovering everything the park has to offer.

We sat down for a late lunch in Arrecifes around 4PM, but when we told the staff that we weren’t actually staying the night they looked at us like we were crazy and said we should probably head home soon so we wouldn’t have to hike in the dark. Just then we looked up and saw several horses all saddled up and ready to take passengers back down to the park entrance. We decided it would be a lot of fun to ride them back down through the jungle—and it sure was! I hadn’t been horseback riding in years, but just like a bicycle, it came right back to me. I got the sweetest chestnut horse and before I knew it we were galloping down dirt roads and through grassy fields. Doug was a little less graceful as it was his first time riding a horse—but he did great and we laughed and smiled the entire time! There were several nerve-racking instances when the horses had to climb down steep, slippery rocks and we were both impressed by their strength and balance. The whole experience definitely made me want to pursue more opportunities to ride down here!.

Posted on by Erica Duncan in Colombia

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