The Ultimate Guide to Tayrona National Natural Park, Colombia

by Stephanie Walsh · 56 comments

in Colombia, South America, Travels

Camping in Tayrona National Natural Park, Colombia

Top Tips for Getting There, Saving Money, Camping and Making the Most of a Trip to Tayrona National Natural Park, Santa Marta, Colombia.

Welcome to ‘The Ultimate Guide to Tayrona National Natural Park‘. This is a fairly extensive and detailed post designed for those people who are planning a trip to Tayrona National Natural Park in Santa Marta, Colombia. We visited Tayrona in January 2012 and it has been one of the most beautiful and memorable places we have been on our travels around South America so far. There is really to consider when planning a camping trip to Tayrona. It is a fairly remote location so knowing how long you intend to stay, what you want to do while there and how much money to bring is crucial to your stress-free enjoyment of this incredible ecological destination along the Caribbean Coast of Colombia. This post should give you plenty of details about Tayrona so you know how to get there, how to save money while there, where to camp, what to do, what to bring, what not to bring and more!

Cabo San Juan de Guía, Tayrona National Park, Colombia

Cabo San Juan de Guía, Tayrona National Park, Colombia

Getting To Tayrona

From Santa Marta: From the mercado de Santa Marta, you can get a bus that will take you to the entrance of the Tayrona park for the equivalent of about $1-2 USD. If you get a taxi there, just ask them to take you to the mercado where the Tayrona buses depart. You will know you’re in the right place when you hear the bus workers shouting “Tayrona, Tayrona Tayrona”. Besides they will probably spot you long before you spot them, especially if you have any gear with you.

From The Park Entrance: Once dropped at the entrance, and after you have bought your ticket, I advise you get another bus (especially if you have heavy bags as its at least an hours additional walk) that will take you much deeper into the jungle. These buses are easy to find, about 20 metres from the entrance of the park. They take you to the furthest point that cars can go. Here is where one of the campsites is situated, close to Cañaveral beach. As Cañaveral is where the ecohabs are located, the surrounding facilities like restaurants tends to be expensive. The cost of the ecochabs are ridiculously expensive, ranging from $550,000 ( ($307 USD / 250 Euro) to $646,000 COP ($360 USD / 290 Euro) per night! Luckily for us mere budget backpackers, there are plenty of other options. 

So with that in mind, head to Cabo San Juan del Guia or Arrecifes beach where there are great camping sites.

Getting To The Campsites: Next…GET A HORSE…”what?! A horse?”, you ask. You’ll thank me later (hopefully). If you have heavy bags at all I cannot stress enough how valuable getting a horse is. There are two options for getting to Cabo San Juan or Arrecifes beach….walk it or ‘horse it’.

Loading up the horses for the 1.5 hour journey to the campsite in Tayrona

Loading up the horses for the 1.5 hour journey to the campsite

Getting to Tayrona is not simply a matter of showing up and entering. It took us two hours, through jungle, dirt tracks, rivers and up steep rocks to reach Cabo San Juan, the beach where we wanted to camp. On top of that we were carrying everything we owned, plus our camping gear, on our backs. So we rented a horse for about $32,000 COP ($18 USD / 15 Euro) to carry our things while we  chose to walk alongside the horse and our guide through the jungle. There’s no way we could have carried our backpacks, around 10 litres of water and our camping gear for 2 hours through the sweltering heat without those amazing horses! If you don’t have that much gear, you can skip the horses to save money but it is a fairly difficult and long trek.

On the way to the campsite and beach with our hired horses in Tayrona

On the way to the campsite and beach with our hired horses in Tayrona

Arrive Early: Another important thing to remember if you are planning on staying at Cabo San Juan or Arrecifes beach is to arrive as much before 3pm as possible. The Colombia sun is an unchanging reminder that you are almost in the equator as it sets and rises at the same time all year around. For someone who comes from a place where its dark by 4pm in Winter and 11pm in Summer, this was weird for me but the reliability of it means you always know its around 6:30pm in Colombia when the sun is setting.

A horse taking a break during the journey

A horse taking a break during the journey

With this in mind, and bearing in mind that it takes from 1.5 to 2 hours to get to the Cabo San Juan campsite from the point of Cañaveral (the place where you rent the horses and begin your walk), lots of the guides will not take you if you arrive after 3pm as the park closes at 5. We learned this the hard way. Understandably so, I wouldn’t want to be roaming around jungle, rivers and steep rocky mountains with a horse in the pitch black either.


Prices and Fees for Tayrona

The main complaint many people have about Parque Tayrona is that it is very expensive as you will see from the below cost breakdown. The accommodation, restaurants and entrance fee, all cost far more than the Colombian standards. However if you are prepared it doesn’t have to be very expensive. If you follow the tips in this post, a trip to Tayrona can also be an extremely cheap way to spend a few days in one of the most beautiful natural places in South America.

Entrance Fee: The entrance to the park is $35,000 COP ($20 USD / 16 Euro) for foreigners and $13,000 COP ($7 USD / 6 Euro) for local Colombians…a significant difference. Naturally it makes sense to spend a few days in Tayrona…the more the better, as it will justify the expensive entrance fee!

Accommodation Fee: Camping in Tayrona (with your own tent) is the cheapest option, costing $15,000 per person per night regardless of whether you are sharing the same tent or not. Renting a hammock costs between $15,000 COP ($8 USD / 6 Euro) and $20,000 COP ($11 USD / 9 Euro) depending on the season and location. Renting a 2 person tent costs $50,000 COP ($28 USD / 22 Euro) but they are not as nice and often of poor quality.

Our tent lit up at night in Tayrona

Our amazing REI tent lit up at night in Tayrona

Food Costs: Eating in the restaurants in Tayrona is very expensive and the food is not great. However, there are some great little places scattered through the park selling traditional Colombian food such as ‘arepas con huevos’, ceviche and freshly squeezed orange juice for a moderate price. A 1.5 litre bottle of water costs about $5,000 COP ($2.80 USD / 2.30Euro).


Where To Camp in Tayrona

There are a few options when it comes to accommodation in Tayrona National Park. We brought our own tent and camped at Cabo San Juan campsite, with a view of the amazing beach. We would recommend this campsite as the best but also the busiest with most people choosing to camp here due to the spectacular beaches so close to the campsite.

Setting up our tent in the busy Cabo San Juan campsite of Tayrona

Setting up our tent in the busy Cabo San Juan campsite of Tayrona

If you don’t want to carry a tent, or don’t own one there are plenty of other options:

  • Rent a Tent
  • Rent a Hammock
  • Rent an Eco-Hab
Hammocks are available for rent if you don't want to camp in Tayrona

Hammocks are available for rent if you don't want to camp in Tayrona

The main camping areas are: CañaveralBukaru, and Cabo San Juan del Guia. All of these campsites have food and sanitary facilities.


Cañaveral is the campsite that is first reached when you enter the park. It is reachable by car and it situated close to the ecohabs and a nice beach.


Bukaru is the next campsite and beach you reach when you start the 1.5 – 2 hour hike through the jungle. Bukaru campsite is much quieter than Cabo San Juan, however the beach is strictly off bounds for swimming. Please do not ignore the signs. The currents are extremely strong and dangerous and have claimed many lives of visitors to the park, including the life of a man while we were in Tayrona. Arrecifes beach is beautiful and very long, with fantastic views of the jungle and mountains behind it. There are other nearby beaches where swimming is allowed.
Bukaru campsite in Tayrona

Bukaru campsite in Tayrona

Cabo San Juan del Guia is the most popular beach and campsite. The campsite is located directly opposite two beaches, split in two by a jutting formation of rock between them. On top of the rocks lies a wooden beach-house which contains a two rooms for rent ann an area of hammocks which can be individually rented also. Cabo San Juan has a restaurant and a small store with limited selection of products. The showers are outdoor, open and unisex and the toilet facilities are basic and almost always have a queue in the high-season.
Cabo San Juan campsite, surrounded by palm trees and mountains

Cabo San Juan campsite, surrounded by palm trees and mountains

La Piscina is another beautiful beach, used mostly for swimming and snorkelling. There is no campsite located at this beach.
Map of Tayrona National Natural Park, Colombia

Map of Tayrona National Natural Park, Colombia

What To Bring to Tayrona

Water: Bring water…lots of water. Despite being surrounded by beautiful clean water, you’d be surprised how much it costs to buy water inside the grounds of Tayrona National Park. Allow for more than you would normally drink (in case you decide to stay longer, which I imagine will happen). Despite not being on an island, Tayrona gets its supplies for the camp shop from a boat that transports a limited amount of goods to each camp on a daily basis. Therefore, water is very expensive in Tayrona so if you want to keep to a low budget, avoid buying your water there. Instead make the extra effort to bring your own. You can buy 5 liters of water in Santa Marta for less than 1.5 liters of water inside Parque Tayrona. Ridiculous! Plus, the fact that you will probably drink about 2 litres of water a day in the heat means you will be spending a lot of money on water if you buy it at the park.
Important Note: You can’t bring plastic bags into the park so make sure to transfer those bags of water (which are very common in Colombia) into large plastic bottles WITH HANDLES before you enter the park, and please dispose of the plastic bags properly!

Food: Bring lots of camping food such as canned tuna, veg etc. Eating in the restaurant in Tayrona is super expensive and not great either. You will save a ton of money by being prepared and having picnics on any beach you want.

Light: Bring lamps/headlamps for the nighttime…you’ll be glad you had them when they saved you from tripping over the ropes of someones tent. Spare batteries might also be a good idea in case you decide to extend your stay. The electricity in Tayrona is limited. After a certain time (around 10 or 11 PM ) they electricity goes out. You are going to be glad you had those headlamps when you have to take a midnight trip to the toilets! There are areas where you can charge your phone and other electronics, usually located in the camp restaurant. Phone coverage is limited, but we found that the carriers Movistar and Comcel reach the campsite but just for phone calls. Naturally, there is no internet!

Toiletries Bring lots of sun cream and insect repellent…you are in a tropical jungle by the sea after all! Bad sun-burn and mosquito bites can ruin a trip. Make sure to also bring plenty of toilet roll as it is not provided in the public toilets.

Footwear: Bring good shoes, preferably hiking boots for the trek to the campsite and if you want to visit the ancient ruins of the town Pueblito which is a 2-3 hour steep hike up a rocky mountain. Flip-flops aren’t just for the beach…don’t forget to use them in the communal showers also for hygiene purposes.

On the hike to Pueblito in Tayrona

On the hike to Pueblito in Tayrona

Camera: Essential. You’ll want to remember this place.

Good Book/Kindle: Tayrona is a place to relax and unwind and not do much more than sit on the beach all day and then go sit on another beach all day. We got a lot of reading done in our 7 night stay in Tayrona.

Not a bad view…

Not a bad view…

Entertainment: The beauty of Tayrona is that you are going back to basics, with limited electricity, limited phone coverage, no internet or TV and completely cut off from the rest of the world. So you might want to bring something to entertain yourself during the days and nights, if you get bored of the beach. Playing cards were popular when we were there and are a great way to meet other travelers and create big group games. Of course, there is always the token guitar guy in these type of places to provide entertainment whenever you travel!


What Not To Bring to Tayrona

Too Much Clothes: You’re going to spend most of the time in your swimming gear anyway, save yourself the extra weight.

Plastic Bags: I mentioned this above, but the park does not allow you to enter with plastic bags. Make sure to transfer any water you have in plastic bags into plastic bottles before entering as the park security checks your bags at the entrance.

Alcohol: Don’t bother wasting your money and energy dragging a 12-pack of beer to the park, only for it to be refused at the entrance. Bringing alcohol to Tayrona is not allowed but don’t worry there is a plentiful supply available at the small stores in each camp. A beer costs around $5,000 COP ($2.80 USD / 2.30 Euro), so it is much more expensive than Colombian standards again.

Cabo San Juan beach in Tayrona

Cabo San Juan beach in Tayrona


What To Do in Tayrona

Hiking: The ruins of a small ancient town, known as ‘Pueblito’ (Little Town, ironically) is situated on top of the mountain behind the Cabo San Juan campsite. The entrance to the mountain is from the back of Cabo San Juan (beside the showers) and the hike takes about 2-3 hours up steep rocky paths where you will eventually find the small town at the top. The town is seen as a much smaller version of The Lost City (La Ciudad Perdida), another, longer and more strenuous hike available from Santa Marta. This hike is definitely about the journey and not the destination as there is not much to see at the top. It’s probably worth it for the exercise though after a few days of lying around on the beach.

A small indigenous hut in Pueblito on top of the mountain, Tayrona

A small indigenous hut in Pueblito on top of the mountain, Tayrona

Snorkeling:  There are a few snorkeling options in Parque Tayrona. La Piscina beach and Cabo San Juan both offer great spots for snorkeling, where you can explore the unique and protected coral of the Caribbean coast. Prices for renting snorkeling gear varies from vendor to vendor but you can often bargain for a good deal in the low season. A good option is to buy cheaper snorkel and goggles in Santa Marta before you arrive and bring it with you as they are expensive to rent in Tayrona.

Swimming: Of course, what else would you do when traveling to some of the best beaches in South America? Make sure to explore all of the many beaches as they all have different characteristics and swimming/sunbathing experiences. Make sure you do NOT swim in Arrecifes beach as it has extremely dangerous under-currents and is off-bounds for swimmers.

Views of the coastline of Tayrona

Views of the coastline of Tayrona

Nightly Music Entertainment: In the Cabo San Juan campsite, local musicians from the area would plat traditional ‘vallenato’ music for the tourists. The music and atmosphere at this is great but it doesn’t last long unless encouraged from the crowd. Of course, they are playing for tips, so give them something if you enjoyed the music. Another great reason to stay at the Cabo San Juan campsite!

Star-Gaze: The lack of lights in Tayrona at night means that, on a cloud-free night, the skies are spectacularly lit up with stars. Watch the moon gradually sink over the horizon out at sea and then gaze as the stars become brighter and brighter as the night goes on.

And Finally…Take a Deep Breath and Relax!

You’ve made it. Now go sit on your ass and enjoy life in paradise. 🙂

Views of Cabo San Juan de Guía beach, Tayrona

Views of Cabo San Juan de Guía beach, Tayrona


For pictures and stories from Tayrona, check out this post, our Facebook album or our Flickr set.

I hope that this post has been helpful for anyone planning a trip to Tayrona. If you have anymore questions, I’ll be happy to answer them in the comments below. Likewise, if you’re back from a trip to Tayrona, I would also love to know what you thought of it!

Download my handy Travel Guide to Tayrona for just $0.49 and take this information with you! If this post has helped you to plan your trip to Tayrona or make your travels in Colombia easier in any way, please consider giving your support by downloading the guide for just $0.49. Each guide sold helps to ensure this blog stays alive to help other travelers. 🙂 Thank YOU!


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{ 56 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Britany December 9, 2012 at 10:29 am

Any idea how safe/secure the hammock option is? I won’t be traveling with a tent and renting a hammock just sounds like something I need to experience:) Did you guys hear any accounts of people trying that option and what they did with their stuff while they slept? I assume you’re just renting a hammock, or are there more facilities for storage?
Britany recently posted..‘Round the World Wrap-up, 12/4My Profile


2 Stephanie Walsh December 10, 2012 at 11:32 am

Hey Britany. We know people who have rented hammocks but, honestly, we never asked what they did with their stuff. I can tell you it’s pretty safe though. We left our stuff in a tent all day…anyone could easily have entered it but they didn’t. There must be some type of lockers though, as there were always people in hammocks but their stuff was gone during the day…probably locked away. There’s a mini reception in Cabo San Juan beach and a restaurant…maybe one of those have storage facilities and all the hammocks are located under palapas anyway…which we never really checked out, so maybe in there. Anyway it’s not as remote as it seems. I’m sure you’ll be able to work something out. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help 🙂


3 Ryan January 1, 2013 at 3:20 pm

First of all, great post, so much useful information! Were there cooking facilities at Cabo San Juan?


4 Stephanie Walsh January 21, 2013 at 12:22 pm

Thanks Ryan. No I don’t think there were cooking facilities per se, but a lot of people brought little gas stoves and cooked right outside their tent. Not sure how legal it was, seeing as there is a no campfire policy but perhaps if it is well-maintained, they will overlook it. Enjoy!


5 sophie January 25, 2013 at 7:03 pm

thanks for the tips! I was getting mixed reviews about Tayrona and doubting if I should go but you made my mind up. so excited now!


6 Stephanie Walsh January 26, 2013 at 5:23 pm

Yay, I’m so glad I was able to convince you Sophie! Hopefully you will love it, I’ve no doubt you will! 🙂 Enjoy!


7 Jessica February 13, 2013 at 9:52 pm

Thanks for the great post couple of questions. If we have a rental car can we drive into the park all the way to the campsite?

Also any idea how far Arrecifes was from Cabo?

was there a snorkeling company or just on your own?
Also, we are debating between spending one night in santa marta and one in tayrona or just both in tayrona, what’s your opinion.

sorry for so many ?’s. This was so helpful and you seem knowledgeable


8 Stephanie Walsh February 14, 2013 at 11:16 am

Hi Jessica, thanks for commenting on the post. Glad it was useful.
To answer your questions:
1. You can drive in as far as the first campsite (which is still a two hour-ish walk from the most popular Cabo San Juan campsite/beach). There is a closer beach to the right of the first car-accessible campsite. However, the ONLY way to reach the more remote beaches/campsites is via a two hour walk through the jungle, or on horseback, but you can probably leave your car back at the first campsite car-park.
2. Arrecifes is the furthest beach from Cabo…it’s about a 20 minute walk, maybe more. You can walk between them no problem, but you will have to climb over and walk between some narrow rocks and through jungle paths…all very beautiful of course.
3. Yes, there is a snorkeling company there, in La Piscina beach, that rent the gear. It’s much cheaper to bring your own and just snorkel wherever you like though.
4. I would say go straight to Tayrona. There is not much to do in Santa Marta, apart from Rodadero beach, which is always ridiculously full and the beaches in Tayrona are a million times more beautiful. Santa Marta is just another city, one that you can see anywhere. Tayrona is really special and with the effort and time that it takes to get there, I would feel one night was too short to enjoy it fully.
Hope that helps!!
Enjoy your visit!


9 Julian February 14, 2013 at 1:16 am

Great post! I want to ask you about the food and also about the cooking facilities at the park, what would you recommend to bring for a long stay (let’s say 10 days) and how easy is to go back after a couple of days to the park entrance or somewhere nearby to get more things?
thanks in advance!


10 Stephanie Walsh February 14, 2013 at 11:38 am

There aren’t really any cooking facilities at Tayrona. You just have to bring your own non-perishable food, or buy the overpriced food in the little shop or the restaurants. There are some great places along some of the beaches that sell fresh juice and arepas con huevos though. I didn’t like the food in the restaurant…overpriced and bland, but I think some people liked it. I would just bring as much food as possible, like we did, because once you get there, the thoughts of going back out to get food is not at all appealing. Besides, Tayrona is pretty isolated, and even outside of the entrance, there are not many options for stocking up. Buy everything in Santa Marta before you leave, otherwise you could spend around 4 hours trying to get from the camp (at Cabo) back to the city…2-3 hours walking just to reach the exit of the park and another 45 mins ride back to the city.
We brought loads of tuna and bread, snacks like peanuts, LOADS of water (so expensive in the park…I would estimate for half a litre for everyday you will be there) and other canned foods. Wasn’t exactly a feast every day but it was fine for the time we were there.
Hope that helps!


11 Julian February 24, 2013 at 1:13 am

Thank you very much for all your help, Stephanie! I’m looking forward for my trip there at the beginning of March!



12 Stephanie Walsh February 27, 2013 at 10:54 am

You’re welcome Julian! Have a great time in Tayrona!


13 Mowen February 18, 2013 at 7:04 pm

Love the advice and pics! Curious if you have advice for those coming from Cartagena? I’ve heard /read some nightmare stories, so trying to figure out the fastest and safest way. leaving in 2 weeks!


14 Stephanie Walsh February 19, 2013 at 10:15 pm

I’ve never heard about any problems travelling from Cartagena to Santa Marta. We took the bus in the opposite direction (Santa Marta-Cartagena) and it was great, no problems at all! Just book with a good bus company (sorry can’t remember the name of the one we took!) and don’t let those guys at the terminal talk/push/intimidate you into getting a cheaper(crappier) bus, that may be unofficial and cause problems. Enjoy Tayrona! 🙂


15 Fábio June 9, 2013 at 12:56 am

I went to Santa Marta from Cartagena, stay there for 3 days (Park Tayrona) and return to Cartagena…but…but…..our bus delay and me and my girlfriend lost our fly (Cartagena – Bogota). This travel takes 3 hours in normal conditions, in this day, around march, we took 5 hours and a half…


16 Stephanie Walsh July 15, 2013 at 9:29 pm

Wow thanks for the tip Fabio. I have heard that that route can be so unpredictable alright. Sorry to hear you lost your flight. Hope you got there in the end!


17 Fábio February 24, 2013 at 4:08 pm

I would like to camping in Park Tayrona in the Cabo San Juan campsite…can you give some contact of this place? Or is soft go direct to the campsite with my tent and deal personally in this place, without reserve?
(Sorry about my english)


18 Stephanie Walsh February 27, 2013 at 10:57 am

Hi Fábio, there is no way to book in advance (as far as I know). It is better to just show up, pay and camp wherever you find room. I don’t think they will turn anyone away after the effort it takes to get there! 😛


19 Dean Johnson March 2, 2013 at 12:11 pm

Hi, do you have to carry your backpack with you at at all times, or is there a safe area to leave it ? Regards dean


20 Stephanie Walsh April 12, 2013 at 11:01 am

Hi Dean,
Sorry for the delayed response. No, unfortunately there are no lockers in Tayrona..something they really need to consider investing in! You should bring a small backpack for your valuables for when you go out for the day and leave your clothes and stuff in the tent. You just have to hope that no one enters your tent when you’re gone! :/ We were there for 7 days and nothing ever happened. We just put a padlock on our tent but there are no guarantees unfortunately! Enjoy your trip!


21 Polly Wilson April 7, 2013 at 11:36 am

Hi, Thanks for all your great information. My daughter and I are planning to visit Tayrona at the end of June. I also wondered what to do with our backpacks since we have had things stolen from camp sites (not Colombia) in the past. Does anyone out there have more detailed information about lockers?


22 Stephanie Walsh April 12, 2013 at 10:51 am

Hi Polly,
Thanks for getting in contact. I’m afraid there are no lockers in Tayrona (as far as I know…but I didn’t see any). Maybe in the more expensive cabañas but not in the camp sites. I guess you’ll just have to try bring minimal valuable possessions and when you go out for the day, bring a small backpack with your important things. We would bring our passports, money, phones, my camera etc. Since we were traveling with our laptops, we had no choice but to leave them in the tent and use a padlock….which obviously is useless if someone decides to slash the tent. Kind of irresponsible, now that I look back on it! But luckily nothing ever happened and we were there for 7 days! There are no guarantees though, so you’ll just have to either leave your valuables at home or bring them with you whenever you leave your tent. It’s definitely something Tayrona needs to improve on. Hope that helps! Enjoy your trip.


23 TM April 11, 2013 at 12:07 pm

This is a question out of left field, I have googled it without success, but you might be able to answer it. I am planning a trip to Colombia and to do camping in places like this (and later the Inca Trail in Peru) and was curious if you can buy 2-4 man tents easily in Colombia (and what cost you are looking at for them). Carting a tent from Australia to Colombia will only add to the cost of excess weight on the flight so I was thinking of getting a cheap tent there and ditching it at the end of the trip. But I don’t want to get there and find out that choices of tents are very limited or they are massively expensive. A fairly good, but cheap priced dome tent (with internal mozzie netting and external fly) costs between $25-50 AUD here in Australia….thoughts?

Great post too, and a good read, thanks for all the handy info Stephanie


24 Stephanie Walsh April 12, 2013 at 10:41 am

Hey, thanks for commenting. Well, there is a good selection of tents here in specialized shops and in large shopping centres and malls, but I find that they can often be overpriced so you have to look around. However, you’ll definitely find something within your price range. If you go to the famous chain stores like La 14, El Exito, Carrulla, you will probably find really good deals on 2-4 man tents. But, yeah you should just buy one here! Hope that helps! Enjoy Colombia. 🙂


25 Fiona April 12, 2013 at 2:09 pm

Thanks for this fantastic post – I’ll be travelling solo in Colombia for a couple of weeks and am super happy to have info about Tayrona in advance.

I was wondering if you know anything about getting from Santa Marta airport directly to Tayrona? Are there any buses or is it better to taxi to Santa Marta and then grab the bus from the center? I’m trying to make the transfer as quickly as possible because I’m tight for time and have a flight that lands at around 1:00pm… hoping to be able to get to the park the same day but I’m not sure if it’s feasible!


26 Stephanie Walsh April 12, 2013 at 5:30 pm

Hi Fiona,
Thanks for commenting! I think 1:00pm is a little late to be honest. You would probably make it to Tayrona by 3 or 4 and if you’re heading to Cabo San Juan, they won’t guide you there after 4. However, if you do reach Tayrona by this time you can just camp at Cañaveral (the first campsite and the furthest spot reachable by cars) for the night and head further into the park in the morning. That’s what we did, coz we didn’t arrive until about 4 and the guides wouldn’t take us with the horses at that time (and we really needed the horses for our heavy bags).
As for going directly from the airport to Tayrona, you would either need to get a taxi (which would be very expensive coz the journey from the airport to Tayrona would be about 1.5 hours), or there may be buses that go there directly for quite cheap…but I’m not 100% sure about that. There are definitely cheap buses that go to Santa Marta from the airport. You’ll just need to ask around when you get there I suppose.
I would say head for Tayrona and camp the first night at Cañaveral anyway. You’ll at least have half of the effort of getting there over with by the next day! 🙂 Hope that helps and enjoy your trip!


27 Drew June 5, 2013 at 8:42 am

If you rent a tent do they come with sleeping pads or something or is the ground hard?


28 Stephanie Walsh July 15, 2013 at 9:31 pm

Hi Drew. I am not sure if they provide sleeping pads honestly. The ground is hard yes, as it’s very dry. Most people there seemed to bring their own air mattresses, like us. Hope that helps.


29 Frank June 23, 2013 at 3:56 pm

You guys are adventurous – the facilities are really rustic, my wife would have killed me (but we’re also a bit older and camping lost its appeal a long time ago). Some of our photos overlap, but here is our story staying at the luxury ecohabs:
Keep up the good work!
Frank (bbqboy(
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30 Stephanie Walsh July 15, 2013 at 9:05 pm

Hi Frank!
Thanks for the link to the eco-habs! It looks like a great alternative for those who don’t want to camp! 🙂
PS: Sorry for taking so long to reply!


31 Celia August 27, 2013 at 5:38 am

Hi Stephanie:
This post was really helpful for us, thank you! We just got back from 2 nights in Tayrona, where we slept in the hammocks at Arrecife (with the main concession). The hammocks come with a mosquito net. They were quite pricey (27,500 pesos per person), but the bathrooms and showers were very clean and nice. (The tent campers also get to use the same bathrooms and showers.) There were lockers in the hammock area (each with their own lock/key) You don’t need to bring your own padlock. The lockers are quite big, and required 10,000 peso deposit. Next door is a smaller hammock/tent/juice bar place “El Paraiso”, where the price for hammocks was listed for 14,000 or 16,000 pesos. We didn’t make it to Cabo San Juan, but just hung out at Arrecifes and La Piscina beaches.


32 Chris September 29, 2013 at 3:03 pm

Hi Stephanie,

Great post – thank you.

How much did it cost to rent the horses to carry your gear? And how many were in your party? Was the price for the return trip too?

I agree with you about water – but personally carrying any more than a few litres is going to be out of the question for most people!


33 Stephanie Walsh November 7, 2013 at 7:57 pm

Hello Chris. Sorry for the delay in replying.
The horse for our bags cost us $30,000 each way and we paid just one way at a time because we weren’t sure when we would be leaving. We were just two people, myself and Andres.
Yeah I know what you mean. You can only carry so much, but every little helps 🙂


34 Helen October 11, 2013 at 1:56 pm

Hi I have just read your post and have got some great tips from this thank you 🙂

The only question I have is about our luggage. Myself and my partner are travelling for 6 months so have 70ltr rock sacks with all of our belongings for 6 months in them. From what you said it would be good to take as little with you as possible and a lot of what we have in there we would not need. Do you think we should put all we need in 1 rock sack and ask our hostel to store the other for a few nights until we get back? Do you think this would be safe? Your thoughts on this will be much appreciated

Helen x


35 Stephanie Walsh October 12, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Hi Helen! Thanks for getting in touch!
Yeah I think that’s a great idea, and should be absolutely fine! Most hostels or hotels would be more than happy to oblige, I am sure. You’ll be able to get a feel for the place anyway and go with your instincts on whether you feel it is safe or not. 🙂
Hope you have a great time, would love to know how it goes! 🙂


36 Phoebe October 29, 2013 at 8:31 am

Hey, Thanks for the info!

I was wondering if you know if the hammocks in the Cabo San Juan campsite have mosquito nets? And does it get cold at night time, because we were considering not brining a sleeping bag becaue it will take up loads of room.


37 Stephanie Walsh November 7, 2013 at 7:34 pm

Hi Phoebe! Well, honestly, I can’t remember now if there are mosquito nets but I am sure you can buy some there, or rent them at least. No, it doesn’t get cold, just a bit cooler so you can sleep in peace. It gets very hot in the morning though so you totally don’t need a sleeping bag. Just throw a jumper (sweater) over you if you get cold! Hope that helps and that my reply hasn’t come too late. Enjoy Tayrona! 🙂


38 Mike November 10, 2013 at 6:50 pm

Are camping stoves allowed in the park?


39 Stephanie Walsh November 11, 2013 at 9:10 am

Yes, I believe so. We wanted to bring one but couldn’t find any gas in Santa Marta however.


40 Michelle December 10, 2013 at 12:39 pm

Hi Stephanie.

Thank you so much for this detailed post! I have three questions that I would really appreciate your help with-
My plan is to get to San Juan as early as possible (I will sleep in Santa Marta the night before) any idea how early buses to Tayrona depart from Santa Marta?
I found a place to reserve hammocks in advance in Arrecifes (since I’m going in a really busy season it might be good), do you think it is easy/safe to spend the day in Cabo San Juan (hopefully watch the sunset) and then walk to Arrecifes to sleep?

And finally, how late do you think we can leave Cabo to go back to Santa Marta?

thanks so much!!


41 Linda Hsu December 23, 2013 at 10:37 am

Hi Stephanie,

Great post! Thanks for all the tips.

We’ll be staying at a beach house not far from Tayrona, and planning day trips to the park. We are avid snorkelers (being from Hawaii) so we are very excited about seeing the coral reefs and sea life of the Caribbean Sea. Can you make some recommendations on where would be the best places to snorkel? And how long do you think it’ll take to get to those beaches? What should we bring?

We also want to see the ancient ruin of the Pueblito too. Do you think we can do that in the same day? Or would it be better to do that on a separate day from the snorkeling trip? What do we need to bring? And how much water should we realistically carry with us for the hiking trip?

Please advise. Thanks in advance.


42 brian January 18, 2014 at 7:34 pm

you mentioned tents that can be rented for $28……….is that per night??? per stay??? does it include the campground fee??? have you heard of places or hostels in Santa Marta renting them or other travelers selling them??? BTW, great post


43 Natasha March 5, 2014 at 4:02 pm

Would you happen to know how one goes about renting the hammock at cabo san juan in advance?



44 Bart June 14, 2014 at 5:28 am

Thank you for very usefull post! It’s really amazing place, we had wonderful time there 🙂
Bart recently posted..Park TayronaMy Profile


45 David July 12, 2014 at 4:05 pm

Thanks for posting this article.
Quick question if you rent a tent, do you know if it comes with airbeds ,sleeping bags etc?
Also is it possible that there are not any tents there?


46 FRANCESCO POMES August 5, 2014 at 10:16 am

Buenos días,
son Francesco Pomés, tour líder y conductor de AVVENTURE NEL MONDO, una organización italiana de viajes.

Vendré en Colombia con mi grupo de 15 personas (16 incluyéndome a mí), y yo le pediría que organizar para nosotros un día de visitar el Parque Tayrona, en 23 de agosto de salir de Santa Marta.

Les pido, por tanto, para que nos recogiese en la mañana del 23 de agosto de nuestro hotel en Santa Marta (ya he reservado), organizar su día para visitar el parque, y nos acompañará hasta el final del día a Riohacha, a nuestro hotel (Ya he reservado).
Por lo tanto, les pido que me permita saber si se puede arquea como la he descrito, su paquete con la descripción del programa y el precio.

Si hacemos un buen tratamiento, es de esperar que en el futuro otros grupos de “AVVENTURE NEL MONDO” se convertirán a ti.
Gracias de antemano por su cooperación.


Via D’Azeglio, 1
70125 BARI (Italia)
tel. 0039 339 3432883


47 Janika February 22, 2016 at 1:15 pm

This post could not be any more helpful!

Thank you so much for all this information. I am really looking forward to this trip. We will probably stay two nights in the park. Fingers crossed that our stuff will be okay.


48 Maira April 28, 2016 at 12:27 pm

Hi Janika-
My boyfriend and I are planning to go to Cartagena next week and after reading more about Tayrona, we decided that we definitely want to try to go there! Did you end up making it? If so, how was it? We were hoping to do only one night at the Park- do you think that’s possible? Any advice you have would be amazing!

And Stephanie- thanks so much for the amazing detailed post!


49 Janika Berridge April 28, 2016 at 1:12 pm

Hello Maria,

We did make it, and it was amazing!

Please send me an e-mail at, and I can share with you some more information.


50 Clara September 11, 2016 at 1:45 pm

Hello Stephanie,
I’m planning on visiting the park from Jan 2-Jan 6 2017. We are staying at the Arrecife Cabins. I’m already wondering if that is not too many days. .. What is your opinion? I can’t change things right now so I’m looking for what the top things to do are and if you have special recommendations for our stay. I’m Colombian living the USA many years. Bringing my USA friends with me. Thanks!! Clara


51 Agnes October 10, 2016 at 9:09 am

Hi! Thank you so much for all the tips, very helpful!
Have two questions to you/ we are planing to spend Christmas in the park. It is probably a high season there. Do you know any way to book a tent in advance ? Another thing is : we are considering buying our own tent or renting out one. The question is: does the tent come with some kinda mattrace/ mat and sheets?


52 Ema November 28, 2016 at 6:55 pm

Hi Stephanie, i really enjoy your travel guide. I was wondering if the place its safe/secure to go with older people. I mean i am going with my mom, she is 60.


53 Daniel Zatko January 2, 2017 at 9:26 pm

Hey guys! Two questions.
Are camp fires permitted on the beaches?
And is there an opportunity to rent and do ocean kayaking?


54 May January 15, 2017 at 6:15 pm

I am about to go camping with my friends. Before reading this, I am sure that I dont know what I really want to pack inside my backpack.
Thank you so much for sharing this article as it gives me the idea of activities during camping. Please keep it up.


55 Zoe January 19, 2017 at 5:55 pm

Are there any guides to hire for nature/wildlife hikes in the park?


56 Flora October 22, 2018 at 8:48 pm

Poor horses!!!!!!!! It’s heartbreaking. Big big dislike