Dirty, tired, and sweaty.
That’s how I left one of Colombia’s most beautiful national parks, El Parque Tayrona.
After two days of what I consider “roughing it”, I was ready for an indoor shower and something to pass out on that wasn’t a hammock. I definitely left the park scruffier than I entered, but I also emerged exhilarated.
Over two short days, I was reminded of the earth’s breathtaking beauty that prompted me to become an environmental studies major two years ago.
Located in the Santa Marta area, Parque Tayrona is very popular amongst Colombians and tourists for its pristine beaches and lush scenery.
After hearing that it was “the most beautiful place on earth” and a brief Google search, I was determined to see it for myself.
I made a reservation with a private bus service, MarSol, to take us straight to the park from Cartagena for 60,000 pesos, around $33. If you are leaving from Cartagena, you also have the option of taking a bus from the bus terminal that will end up being cheaper but may take longer.
The bus picked us up in Getsemani around 5:15 a.m. After picking up a few other tourists, we finally hit the road at about 6 a.m.
I was a little nervous about the drive. I have had more than my fair share of Colombian drivers greatly exceeding the speeding limit and swerving like there is no tomorrow while I hold on for dear life since there are usually no seat belts.
Thankfully, everything went smoothly and, five hours later, we were safe and sound at the park’s entrance.
After making a reservation to return to Cartagena and paying the park’s entrance fee of 37,000 pesos, about $20, we took a small bus further into the park.
The bus cost 2,000 pesos, a little over a dollar, and, in my opinion, is completely worth taking. If you really love hiking then skip the 10 minute bus ride and get started.
If an hour and a half to two-hour hike will suffice then pay the dollar.
Although you can horseback ride into the park or rent a really sad donkey to carry your stuff, we opted to trek down to the camping sites on our own.
Overall, the hike is slightly strenuous but there were a few kids doing it so it is not impossible.
Make sure to pack light if you are going to carry your own stuff down the path!
The first portion of the hike is through a tropical forest and it’s downright gorgeous.
We saw a monkey and an anteater in the huge, old trees.
Fluorescent lizards streaked with aqua blue and neon green quickly ran across our path that was regularly dotted with huge centipedes.
Vines and twisted branches lazily hung everywhere and, on more than one occasion, we caught a glimpse of a stunning Morpho butterfly.
Much to my traveling partner’s dismay we also saw a tarantula and a huge web that looked like it was home to two banana spiders.
The flora and fauna are absolutely incredible.
Please visit our blog tomorrow for part two of Soqui's trip.