Saturday, 9 May 2015

Santa Marta & Tayrona National Park

On 4th of February 2014, we took a bus to Santa Marta which is a major port city in the north of Colombia. A good Colombian friend of us from Sydney, Felipe, kindly offered his parents’ summer house as long as we wanted to stay. We are grateful to him as accommodation in Colombia can be quite expensive compared to other South American countries.

Night Life in Santa Marta

Santa Marta is one of the oldest cities in South America which has a rich architectural heritage. It is not as lively as Cartagena, but is surrounded by magnificent natural beauties. The first couple of days, we spent some time discovering this historical city and checked out the beaches around it. Due to its central location, it is easy to visit many different spots such as El Rodadero, Taganga and Playa Blanca. 

A great tourist attraction close by is Minca, which is a small town nestled in the foothills of Sierra Nevada Mountains and is only 14 km away from Santa Marta. Sierra Nevada region is the home of many indigenous tribes such as Kogi, Ijka, Wiwa and Kankuamo. 

Minca is an ecological paradise which is famous for its incredible hikes and organic coffee plantations. Upon arrival, we had a delicious cup of coffee in one of the local cafes. Although, Colombia is famous for producing high quality coffee, you don’t really get to taste it that much as most of it is exported to Europe and to the U.S. We consider ourselves lucky to be able to taste some good organic Colombian coffee from Minca.

After our coffee break and a lovely chat with some locals, we did a 3 hour track in the forest which ended at La Victoria coffee farm where you can get an interesting tour of this coffee plantation. Our guide, Jamie, was lovely and provided valuable information to start our own coffee farm in the future. At the end of the tour, we were served different types coffees which were harvested at the plantation. 

Tayrona National Park

After a week of relaxation, we were ready for a new adventure, Tayrona National Park! It is set on a jungle covered coast in Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and is one of Colombia’s most popular national parks. We left with our backpacks on an early Sunday morning and entered this amazing rainforest from the Calzona entrance. We walked for 6 hours until we reached Don Pedro Finca which is a small camping area where you can rent some tents. There are other accommodation options, but I would suggest to camp at this site as some of the camping sites had more than 50 tents next to each other. A nightmare in paradise! Don Pedro Finca is off the beaten track and it is far less crowded than the other sites. After our tiring hike, we enjoyed a nice swim in one of the nearby beaches. Priceless!

Meeting with Kogis

The next day, we walked in the national park and visited some other beautiful beaches. My favourite one was the Piscina Beach where we spent most of our afternoon. It just felt like paradise. In one of hikes in the park, we accidentally walked into a small Kogi village. Most of the habitants were working outside of the village but we met a young mother with her two children who told us about their daily lives, traditions and challenges. It was amazing to meet such cultures who live in harmony with the nature. An invaluable experience.

Unique nature in Tayrona National Park

At night, we prepared our dinner from ingredients we carried with us. It is advisable to bring your own food when you visit Tayrona National Park. Although, there are places to eat, the prices are quite expensive.

We spent the following morning at the Piscina Beach, and then made our way to the main exit. On our way out, we saw amazing flora and wild life. This incredible park is a wonderful place to spend at least a couple of days.    

Tayrona National Park

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