Chronicles of Colombia: Part 2
After the trek, we decided to kick back and relax for a couple of days. We spent two nights in Taganga, a small beach town set around a bay that reminded me of a Greek Island with a wide, sandy beach scattered with local sailing and fishing boats. We found a lovely hostel run by a French family called Divanga which had a pool and a roof top bar the perfect remedy after five days in the jungle!
After two nights of R&R we were ready to embark on our next adventure and headed to Tayrona National Park. 34 kilometres from the town of Santa Marta, Tayrona National Park is one of Colombia’s natural treasures. It covers 150km of land, costs $15 USD to enter and comprises just four locations where you can stop, stay and swim. You have a to take a shuttle bus to the entrance of the park and then the rest of the journey is made by foot or horseback. We opted for the latter after arriving in the mid day heat.
Arrecifes is the first site you come across that offers accommodation – cabanas and hammocks however the currents are strong and the sea is not safe for swimming. If you walk along the coast (or take a horse) for an hour you reach El Cabo; a campsite with basic restaurant. After checking in we were assigned our hammocks on the top of a boulder in the ‘Mirador’ (hut on a hill!). To get to them you had to climb up yet another steep and narrow rock face!
The scenery along the coastline of Tayrona is amazing; huge boulders and rocks are placed dramatically in the sea and dotted along the beach, palm trees form a border between the sand and the jungle. It really is a beach like no other I have ever seen, apart from in the film Jurassic Park. There are plenty of walks and trails to follow inland that lead to ancient ruins, mangroves and provide an opportunity to see wildlife and birds. I have to admit that after the trek we were particularly lazy and didnt explore much beyond El Cabo. The cafeteria is pretty basic and could do with a bit of a refurb however there is a small shop selling basic provisions and particularly tasty coconut flapjacks and banana cakes. It is advised that you take food and drink with you (including a bottle of rum!) as there is little on offer and it’s quite over priced.
We managed two nights here before the wind and the hammocks (without blankets) got the better of us and we decided to return back to the comfort of Taganga. We had heard about a boat which picked you up from El Cabo and took you direct, a journey that should only take 45minutes. We were convinced this was the best option. WE WERE WRONG. The day we departed the weather had taken a turn for the worse and the sea was seriously choppy. Zoe and I held hands the whole way as the waves battered us over the sides of the small speed boat. We must have looked like we were going to cry as Colombian and Argentian passengers repeating ‘tranquillo’ and tried their best to make us smile! It was a hairy journey, not for the faint hearted and not one I would recommended if the weather is bad.
We arrived back on land with a huge sigh of relief and headed back to our haven at Divanga hostel to chill out by the pool and resume position A (horizontal with a drink in hand!) We stayed here for four more nights before making our way back to Bogota and returning to London.
The three weeks I spent in Colombia were incredible a truly memorable holiday. I hope to return there one day and would recommend it to anyone who is considering going there. Conversational Spanish is certainly an asset – many locals don’t speak English. And be prepared to sleep in hammocks and tents if you want to go to the hot spots.