A warm and wild connection
Santa Marta has become a popular tourist center due not to the city itself but to its surroundings, especially Tayrona Park. The beaches are what you would expect of a tropical paradise; thick jungle teeming with wildlife spills over onto golden sand beaches with pounding surf and there are small, secluded bays, excellent for swimming and sun bathing.
Dreamer Hostel is the closest hostel in Santa Marta to the park and offers a shuttle service three times a day to Tayrona Park, with continuation to Palomino.
Visiting Tayrona Park is one of the most memorable things you can do in Colombia. The national natural park sits along the Caribbean Sea, giving visitors a chance to revel in the combination of tropical beach and exotic jungle. The park is one of Colombia’s main tourist attractions, but many travelers find it difficult to prepare for a day trip to Tayrona Park in Colombia. Read the following tips before trekking into the jungle and diving into the picturesque blue waters.
How to Get There
Keep in mind Parque Tayrona has several entrances, but Santa Marta is the main city closest to the park. Many people sleep in a hostel in Santa Marta, like The Dreamer, spend a day in Parque Tayrona, then head back to Santa Marta in the evening. It takes about 45 minutes by car or bus to get to Tayrona from Santa Marta. The main entrance, where most people buy their tickets, is still about a 30-minute walk from where the trails begin, so if you are getting dropped off, it’s best to get dropped off in the second parking lot closer to the trails. You can arrange transport through many of the hotels and hostels in Santa Marta, including The Dreamer Hostel in Santa Marta and Palomino.
To return back to Santa Marta, visitors may decide if they want to follow the same trail back out (maybe this time on a horse) or alternatively there are options to leave the main beach, Cabo San Juan, by boat and return to Taganga. From here, an easy taxi back to your hostel will do the trick. The boats leave at 4pm, giving you a chance to enjoy sunset by the water and see the park from a new perspective. This ride can be a bit bumpy, so pack your sea legs!
Packing for Tayrona Park
We recommend bringing the following items:
Passport – You need to show identification to enter the park.
Bug Spray – The walk through nature trails to get to the beaches means you’ll probably come in contact with a few mosquitos.
Sunscreen, bathing suits, towel – It is the beach, after all.
Water –Remember, it’s extremely hot!
Change of clothes – For the people who don’t like to walk around in a wet swimsuit, bring an extra change of clothes to make the trek from the beach back to the entrance at the end of the day more comfortable.
Money – You’ll need money for the entrance, food and drinks.
More about Tayrona Park
Don’t Go in February
Tayrona is sacred to the indigenous groups native to this area of Colombia. A handful of these indigenous people still live in the park and take special care of the land. Part of that process involves closing Tayrona normally starting January 28 and reopening on March 1. That means you shouldn’t plan on visiting Parque Tayrona for the whole month of February. If February is the only time you can visit Colombia, there are still plenty of fun things to do in the area such as tubing in Palomino or relaxing on the beaches of Santa Marta.
What to Do in Tayrona Park
Hiking, camping, eating and of course relaxing by the beach are the main things to do in Tayrona Park. There are several beaches inside the park including a nude beach. Most people head to Cabo San Juan del Guia. This is the most iconic spot, with a breathtaking view of the turquoise water, rocks and a tower that sits above the water. Swimming isn’t permitted along all of the shore, but it is at Cabo San Juan. This is also where you will find camping, places to eat and horses ready to take visitors back to the entrance for a fee.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I sleep in Tayrona Park?
The trek is not considered dangerous. Colombia’s safety conditions have improved within the last couple of years and visitors should not worry about danger while visiting Colombia or hiking to the Lost City. Just like along any trail, hikers are encouraged to wear closed-toed shoes and watch where they are walking to avoid accidents or injuries along the trail.
Which entrance is best for hiking?
No, visitors cannot hike to the Lost City alone. Every group or person must be accompanied by a local guide. This is a government regulation to ensure hikers don’t get lost along the trail. This rule is also to help ensure hikers do not disturb the indigenous people who live in the area or the delicate ecosystems of the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta.
What type of food can I eat there?
Expect the weather to be extremely humid in the daytime. The average high temperatures hover between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 23 degrees Celsius) throughout the year. The nighttime cools down a bit with temperatures ranging between 57 and 62 degrees Fahrenheit (13 to 16.5 degrees Celsius) throughout the year. December through March generally has less rain, but you should still expect afternoon showers throughout the year.
Are there any ATMS?
It can take anywhere from 4 to 6 days from the start of the trail (called El Mamey) to reach the Lost City, then return to the starting point. For visitors who want to hike at a slower pace and enjoy the scenery, choose the 5-day option. If you are short on time or want to spend a day exploring a different part of Colombia, expect to walk faster and farther during each leg of the trip.
Do I need to know Spanish?
It’s always best to know a couple of Spanish words while visiting Colombia, but you do not need to know Spanish to enjoy a Lost City Trek. Your tour guide will speak English and Spanish and assist travelers if translation is needed. For information on Lost City treks led in other languages besides English and Spanish, email email@example.com.
Where can I store my bags before visiting Tayrona?
You can take a Lost City trek any time of the year except September, but consider going during the drier months between December and March. May and October usually see the most rain, making it a bit more challenging to hike because of the mud and downpours. No one is permitted to do the Lost City Trek in the month of September because this is the time local indigenous people take care of the area as part of sacred tradition.
Book With Us
You can book a 4 or 5-day Lost City trek through The Dreamer Hostel in Santa Marta or The Dreamer Hostel in Palomino. We are happy to arrange your tour and have you stay at one of our wonderful hostels featuring a pool, a restaurant, a bar and comfortable rooms. We also offer complimentary bag storage