Soakin’ in Tayrona

Our Colombian adventure started in Taganga, a small fishing village by the Carribean Sea, and also the closest town to Tayrona national park. We hadn’t heard much about Taganga, but we’d heard a lot about how beautiful Tayrona is and that it’s a must do on a visit to Colombia.

To be honest we weren’t that impressed with Taganga; the town beach is not impressive, neither is the nearby Playa Grande, restaurants are so-so, and it is generally rather dusty and dirty (we may be a bit blasé by our previous beach encounters in Nicaragua, though). We did have a good 3-course meal at the restaurant Babaganoush, which we highly recommend.

Shady street

Fishing boats

We spent a lot of the time in the hotel pool (see a pattern?), and a day at Playa Grande (a 10-minute boatride away). Playa Grande is a really busy beach, filled with beach chairs, restaurants, kayaks, pedalboats, tubes, masseurs, ceviche sellers, hustlers, snorkelers and people – very similar to European beaches in the most touristy places..and it’s not especially pretty. We had a very good lunch there, though, which was fried fresh fish at one of the many restaurants on the beach.

Playa Grande

Beach chairs

After 3 nights in Taganga we were ready to go to the much-praised beaches of Tayrona National Park! We booked a speedboat to El Cabo San Juan, the prettiest beach in Tayrona. The guy selling the tickets said that the sea was “like a plate”, giving us high hopes for a fun ride! No such luck – it was a bumpy ride in huge waves with the wind throwing bucketloads of water down our necks! Tuva has now sworn off speedboats for the rest of this trip..

El Cabo San Juan is beautiful, the rock formations are so special and the beaches are clean. Unlucky for us it was overcast.. No luck in the weather department, but still a good day. We decided it would be the most interesting to sleep in hammocks at the Mirador – a building on top of a hill overlooking the sea and the beach.

El Cabo San Juan

Panorama from the mirador

Hammocks at the mirador

Sleeping in the hammocks could have been the experience of a lifetime – we imagined clear starlit sky, big moon and lovely sunrise! This is not quite how it unraveled..

It started out good: it was tempered, a light breeze and we could hear the waves clashing on the rocks around us and grasshoppers in the distance. We had brought blankets for the cold night but didn’t even need them at first! The only thing that could have made it better was if the cloud moved to reveal a the starry sky, but oh well. Little did we know of what was awaiting us..

Calm before the storm

El mirador

After an hour or so we got a little drizzle. No problem, just refreshing. But it didn’t subside, in fact it increased a bit. Then the wind picked up and the blankets came on. Still okay, no problem sleeping here.. Then suddenly the heavens opened up and we had a blazing storm all around us! The rain and wind together soaked us completely – we had to hold the hammock closed over our bodies trying to keep dry. As the minutes crept by we got increasingly wetter and colder all throughout the night, and the only thing that kept us positive was that “It could have been worse, we could have had only shorts and t-shirt on, like the guy next to Mathias, sleeping in fetal position. At least we’re not freezing to death!”. So no sleep. And all wet.

The best thing we can say about the night is that it definitely was an experience! Not exactly what we pictured, but still an experience :)

It got even better/worse when we discovered that our little hill had actually been separated from the main beach by a river overflowing and digging out the sand! We had to put on our swimwear and pack our stuff in the watertight bag to wade across waist-high water with strong currents to get to the restaurant. When we got there we learned that mostly everyone was wet, many of the tents were flooded and in general people weren’t super-happy to be there.

Survivor

River

It continued to rain, but when we finally had to leave Cabo it actually stopped and we had a nice 2-3 hour trip through beaches and jungle to Cañaveral and the bus. The night in the hammock really made us appreciate the dry and comfortable beds when we got back to our hostel, Divanga B&B.

Into the jungle

Tarzan in the jungle

Our experience of Tayrona is a bit tainted by the whole weather situation (it actually was a tropical storm from Panama), but we could see that it definitely is a beautiful place and if you’re lucky with the weather you’ll be in paradise.

For anyone who wants to go to Tayrona, this is what you need to know:

  • You can go by:
    • Speedboat (1h, 40 000),
    • Shuttle (50 min + 2-3h hike, 15 000) or
    • Local bus (1-2h + 2-3h hike, 6000)
    • There is never calm sea, if you don’t like big waves or getting wet – take a bus!
  • There is a 37 500 park entrance fee (which seems to increase continuously)
  • You can stay several places from Cañaveral to El Cabo, but we found El Cabo to be the prettiest place and surrounding beaches, so it’s worth the trip
  • Hammocks costs from 20 000 p.p (you can bring you own tent for a bit cheaper)
  • Meals are not cheap, but no too expensive either (breakfast around 6000, lunch and dinner 15 – 30 000 at El Cabo
  • They have toilets, showers, changing rooms and lockers
  • Bring warm clothes for nighttime, it can get windy and chilly!
  • Pack all electronics in a watertight bag!
  • You’re not allowed to bring plastic bags or alcohol (they sell it though)

El Cabo beach 1

600hp

Wet and muddy, but happy

Taganga

More pictures from Taganga, Tayrona and the rest of our travels in Colombia can be found here.

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