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Santa Marta: Tayrona National Park

26 August 2006 One Comment

Days 247 to 249 - Wednesday 24th to Friday 26th May 2006

In reality after getting to bed at 5am, an 8am start was never going to happen. I thought we all did well to get up at 9am and start preparations for our trip to Parque Nacional Tayrona, the pristine Caribbean beach where we would be kicking back and relaxing for the next few days whilst the elections were going on.

PN Tayrona

Things weren’t going entirely well, the immense heat, humidity and 3 hours drunk sleep weren’t conducive to productive activity. It took us about two hours to work out what we needed, go to the supermarket, wander around for a bit, buy our food and provisions for the next few days, wander about some more, pack our things and catch a taxi to the park entrance.

The taxi turned out to be a bit of a nightmare as well, as it couldn’t cope with 4 lads and all the shopping and beach stuff, so it just gave up the ghost, forcing us to make a quick substitution. After a little delay we got going and drove the half hour to the entrance of Tayrona.

Co-incidentally for the second time in as many weeks, at the entrance to the Park we bumped into the Swedes and Jon, so the six of us were all back together for the Swedes last few days in the sun before they headed back to Sweden and real life.

There are two ways to get into the Parque Tayrona, the legal way and the illegal way. The legal way (the way we opted for) involved getting a taxi to the entrance, paying an entrance fee of about 20,000 Pesos (£1 = 4,500 Pesos), and then walking for about an hour and a half through the jungle to the beach where we would be staying. The illegal way involves getting on a boat for about 25,000 Pesos, not paying an entrance fee, and sitting in a boat for about an hour and a half before landing on the beach where we would be staying.

20 minutes into walking through the jungle in about 1,000% humidity, literally melting with sweat, carrying about 15kg worth of food and other stuff, I began to wish we had taken the illegal option.

I had bought a 5 litre bottle of water with me, which in itself weighed 5kgs, not helping matters. I think that I probably sweated out as much water as I drank just to reach the beach, and I arrived with only about 2 litres left.

Arriving was one of the best moments ever! We rented hammocks, hung them, minced about for a minute then got ourselves straight into the sea to cool off. That dip in the Caribbean after walking through the tropical jungle for 90 minutes was an absolute pleasure.

After cooling off for a bit it was time to get down to the serious business of doing absolutely nothing for the planned 5 days I was to stay there. My routine was to be something like:

Get up, breakfast, swim in the sea, lay on the beach, have lunch, read, swim in the sea, play some beach games, swim in the sea, have some dinner, watch the sun setting, drink some rum, talk some crap, listen to some music on someone’s iPod, sleep in a hammock, before doing it all over again the next day.

The beach was simply amazing. White sands, crystal clear blue waters, with deep green jungle covered slopes leading sharply up to the tops of the hills in the background. The photos I took don’t really do it justice.

To get from one beach to another meant a walk through the jungle. The beaches were very different, even when they were only separated by a few hundred metres of jungle. Around one bend a small cove would mean the sea was calm and flat, whereas if the beach was long and wide the waves came crashing in from the Caribbean Sea.

Overall we spent three days doing nothing on that beach. The boys decided to head back to a small fishing village just outside Santa Marta and I decided that as it was their last weekend I would go with them and see them off.

So Friday afternoon came and we all caught a small motorboat back to the village of Taganga. We still had no idea if we would be able to do anything or buy anything due to the elections but we decided to take the risk.

As we made the 90 minutes journey from Tayrona to Taganga bobbing along on the open waters, we watched the sun going down over the sea and the cliffs and jungle-covered mountains, in what for me was one of the most tranquil experiences of my whole trip. It was a very contemplative moment; one of those unplanned times when there is nothing in the world you would rather be doing at that particular time, than sitting in a tiny wooden boat with the hum of the motor, the motion of the waves and the sea, some spectacular scenery and all the while the sun setting over the water.

We docked in the natural harbour of Taganga as the sun had set and darkness was fast approaching, walked 200m along the beach and checked into Casa Blanca, the hotel on the beach that looked out over the harbour. We lucked in and scored a room complete with private balcony.

After checking out the hotel and sitting watching the harbour and kids playing football on the floodlit beach for a while we went our for a traditional meal of burger and chips in one of the local restaurants before heading back to the hotel for a quiet night.

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One Comment »

  • Lyn said:

    Have you got writers bloc….

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