The word ‘Paradise’ is over-used today. It is thrown around too lightly. A quick Google search gives over 95 million results for the word paradise…over-used much? Wikipedia describes paradise as a “place in which existence is positive, harmonious and timeless….in paradise there is only peace, prosperity and happiness…paradise is a place of contentment, but it is not necessarily a land of luxury and idleness.”
Exactly! I couldn’t have described Tayrona National Natural Park (Parque Tayrona), in Colombia, better myself. Maybe I am speaking too soon, and with little else to compare with, when I use the word here to describe the highlight of our Colombian trip, but to us, our time in Tayrona was nothing but paradisiacal.
Certainly most would say, camping is not a luxury…but to us, spending 7 nights in this ‘land of contentment’ couldn’t have felt like more of a luxury. Only after we had finally left did we realize how long we had spent wandering around this giant natural park, happy and peacefully cut off from the world, in a place where time melts away.
To write about each day’s activities would be too long and, probably, boing for anyone reading, as it mostly revolved around swimming, walking, exploring, relaxing, eating, climbing and appreciating our surroundings… so I shall give some highlights of our week spent in paradise.
Turning Tayrona into a National Park, in order to guarantee the protection of the region and the preserving of its unique ecological environment, was a very smart decision made by the Colombian Government. With over 150 square kilometers (58 sq. miles) of land, you can spend as much time as you like walking the pristine beaches, hiking the steep mountain ranges and exploring the sea’s coral reefs. One of the unique things about this Caribbean-bordered park is the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range. It’s not everyday you can see tropical beaches overlooked by snow covered peaks. The Sierra Nevada, reaches and altitude of 5,700 meters above sea level just 42 km from the Caribbean coast, making it the world’s highest coastal range.
Speaking of the mountains, you can hike up to the ancient ruins of an indigenous small town called…well, Small Town (Pueblito). The hike took us over an hour and a half up a very steep, rocky mountain, accessible opposite Cabo San Juan beach. It’s clear that the gigantic stepping stones, had been put there by someone to make the climb for visitors a lot easier, otherwise you would probably need to actually climb the mountain face, rather than walk steeply uphill. I can’t imagine how they did it, especially when you cross giant rocks used as bridges, suspended high above open crevasses below. The actual ruins themselves are pretty small and underwhelming…so it’s all about the journey rather than the destination in this case…plus an indigenous kid will try to sell you water for about 10x the price of water at the bottom of the mountain.
Aside from that one physically strenuous day hiking, we spent the rest exploring the many gorgeous beaches, enjoying the water, reading and generally being content. I hope the pictures speak for themselves when it comes to showing how picturesque the beaches and landscape of Tayrona is.
I still look back at Tayrona regularly with great memories. I know it will be one of the highlights of our South American adventure, as it is definitely a highlight of Colombia. I also get surprised when I meet people who have visited Colombia, who tell me they never visited Parque Tayrona. Well this is me telling you now…VISIT TAYRONA…you won’t regret it.
While Tayrona can be expensive, you don’t remember the prices in the end, you remember the small things; digging your toes into the soft, hot sand; little timid yellow crabs scurrying across the sand; the non-stop crashing of the blue waves (especially the sound as you sleep next to them at night); the tall palm trees silhouetted against the moon, the siestas in swaying hammocks, waking up to a new day and a shining sun, listening to local music sessions by the beach at night and watching the stars in the cloud-free sky…all without internet and phone, refreshingly!
For a detailed post on everything you need to know about Tayrona, such as getting there, where to camp, what to bring and what to do, check out our Ultimate Guide To Tayrona here.
Where have you found your personal paradise? Has there been a place you have fallen in love with?
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