Butlins of Colombia, Tayrona National Park

Trip Start Dec 10, 2011
Trip End Sep 29, 2012

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Where I stayed
Hammock at Cabo de San Juan
What I did

Flag of Colombia  , Magdalena,
Thursday, February 23, 2012

A bit of information first about where I visited. The Tayrona National Natural Park (Spanish: Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona) is a protected area in the Colombian northern Caribbean region and within the jurisdiction of the Department of Magdalena and 34 kilometres (21 mi) from the city of Santa Marta. The park presents a biodiversity endemic to the area of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range presenting a variety of climates (mountain climate) and geography that ranges from arid sea level to 900 meters above sea level until recently the park was associated with civil war and the narcotics trade and from the recent British government advice they still advise not to wonder off the main routes in the park due to some groups operating in this area.  Plus yellow fever is also a higher risk here (I don't have this vaccinations out of all the many injections I had in the UK because I did not originally plan to come to Colombia).

The bus pickup from the hostel was late, after a night of 'I have to get up early insomnia'. When we arrive the army want to search our bags. The man proceeds to undo my reef knot I tied in my plastic bag full of snacks and tips it out over the table. I'm mad. Someone tells me that we're not allowed to bring plastic bags in the park. Oh well I said as all my stuff is in plastic bags, I demonstrate this by following the Army guys lead and tip out the contents of my wash bag onto the same table. He said then quickly and loudly that I should respect him and not be aggressive and that all tourists should go home. I understood every word in Spanish he said. Ok so now we are both angry. I proceed with my plastic bags and I think what a great start so far!

It cost CUP 35,000 to enter the park. We leave the first bus and then take another bus to the walkway. Quick toilet stop and I set off on foot, you can go by horses but I know I will like the walk. First part is steep and into the jungle, later I get to a very highpoint and see the first beautiful beach. The next part of the walk was an assault course through huge boulders with the mountains all around, palm trees, very green fauna glistening in the sun and sandy underfoot. What comes to mind is Jurassic Park, just without the dinosaurs.  

The walk continues along sandy path, it is tough to walk and I don't have walking boots but trekking sandals on. I pass others wearing flip flops, visibly struggling and with big rucksacks, I just have an overnight with me and I left my gear in the luggage store at the hostel in Taganga. It's mid morning and it's already very hot, no shade now or clouds to mask the sun from me. Finally I reach the first beach, Arifeces. A warning reads not to swim here because of more than 300 deaths. Nice I think, and keep walking. I reach the sea and beach, La Piscina, nothing happening here whatsoever. No wait. A group of indigenous people. I read earlier not to take photos of them. I take one with them in the distance to not upset anyone and more as a memory of that moment. They were dressed in white long trousers and tunics, each simply wearing a shoulder bag across them stiched in bright embroidery colours. They are have similar long dark hair uncut it seems and walk in single file along the beach. I'm still walking.... and walk until I reach the very last beach at Cabo de San Juan it isgreat and I survey around and spot some cool hammocks right over the sea. None are available so I settle for one in the mini 'Butlins' resort. Reason I call it this is where there is one shot, three toilets, 1 one restaurant, tent city, hammocks and entertainment of a TV tent where the guys crowd round to catch a football match, oh and of course the beaches including a nudist one, which I don't have the urge to visit by the way. (For my international readers the reference to Butlins is a holiday campsite resort chain across the UK and is more a tongue-in-cheek image of a run down, not very organised or clean place that is frankly a tourist-trap and you pay over what you should for what you get!). The place is however not full of similar clientel to Butlins resort but more the young trendy 'beautiful' set. I only see a few people older than forty years here, including a few set young ladies with fake boobs. I spend my afternoon (the whole journey I described bus plus walking took five hours), swimming, sunbathing and reading the last in the books I've been reading since I started travelling. The Girl that Kicked the Hornet's Nest. Can't put it down! What am I going to read where I'm done with this, maybe my readers can give suggestions!

I wrote this blog update in my journal with my head torch strapped to my head as a light. Now to find tissue paper and use the toilet in the dark. I'm also looking forward to my second time sleeping in a hammock (and it was great).
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aborder on

Gotta love the Colombian army! Frequently I was searched on the side of the bus while all women were left alone! Simple power hungry young men! Made me laugh your reaction to emptying your bag, I would have felt the same! Slept in a hammock once at angel falls, it's quite an experience! Great blog. Stay safe and go easy on those army boys ;-)

Andres on

It its forbiden to build hotels, bring plastic bags and all that stuff because its a protect natural area, if you go to Tayrona N.P shoul know and be prepare to spend time just white the nature. Its what really makes this place awsome. Its you and the nature, thats all.

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