Tyrona national park: jungle/beach paradise

Trip Start Jan 07, 2013
Trip End Aug 01, 2013

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Flag of Colombia  , Magdalena,
Thursday, January 31, 2013

We had heard from many travelers and local colombians that Tyrona national park is a must see. With our insanely cheap hotel room as a home base, we packed light for this excursion with only our hammocks, food, and a few essentials. With up to 7 days to spare before we had to check out of our room in Rodadero we had plenty of time to explore.

The park is about 150 square km in size and is largely jungle/costal. One can get right to the prime beaches by boat, but we went for the cheaper and more adventurous bus/hiking route. Upon entering the park, two 20-25 year olds in military uniforms went through our entire packs to make sure we only brought in what was allowed. Very strict here... It took about 20 minutes while they opened almost every container and zipper we had. It was a little awkward when they pulled out Greg's 9.5" hunting knife, definitely not allowed. We also learned that people were only allowed to camp in designated areas, and that hammocks and tents were provided. Not really my idea of camping, so with a self-sufficient set of gear we were ready and able to bend some rules. 

After we got past the initial gates and restaurants by the park entrance, we instantly knew we mad the right decision in coming here. As the trail broke onto the first beach, we saw turquoise waves crashing into large boulders that bordered the edge of the jungle. Our first break turned into hours as we climbed and jumped between the rocks. We were planning to camp at this first beach, as there was a sort of ramada near the rocks that would be perfect for each of our hammocks. We asked a passer by if it was allowed, and he told us that if we slept there we would be eaten by Jaguars.. I would have preferred a simple no. Even though it was one of the coolest spots I've ever seen, we knew that the whole night would entail a sleepless "high-alert" vibe so decided to move on. 
The first developed camping area was a place called Arrecifes. There were 3 campgrounds with tents scattered among palm trees, and mosquito netted huts filled to the brim with hammocks. The price to use the campground with our own equipment was nearly identical to if we had rented it. Semi-disappointed in bringing so much stuff for nothing so far.. Having our own hammocks was nice in that we weren't constricted to the "hammock barns". We set up as close to the beach as possible, careful not to get in the way of falling coconuts (easier said than done).

Arrecifes was great: the beach was beautiful and it was not as populated as the more touristy Cabo San Juan campground that was accessible by boat. We spent 3 nights here and spent the days exploring the various beaches and hiking up the riverbeds into the jungle to look for animals. It was great having to much free time away from the city to recharge and relax. Every morning and night we spend a few hours on the beach stretching, working out, eating coconuts, and just staring out at the water. Tyrona is one of those places that leaves no doubt in ones mind that the journey is worth it. 

The fourth night we went to Cabo San Juan in order to stay in the hammocks that were on a hilltop that bordered the ocean. Sadly, by the time we got there it was already full. Something to go back to I guess. This campground was severely overcrowded, not at all like our previous few nights. Still, we managed to use our own hammocks to get away from the crowd and set up right on the beach. We continued our search for animals by walking a little deeper into the park, and ended up finding a pack of 40 or so monkeys. Its pretty entertaining watching monkeys, much more so than any other animal I've seen. 

The last 12 ours of our Tyrona experience was nearly opposite of the first. Our prime beach spots did little to protect us from the rain that night, and we ended up moving back into the roofed hammock area after getting soaked. I also got some mild food poisoning.. yet again. Slowly but surely I'm isolating the true root of the problem.. and for now the culprit seems to be the hot sauce they use here. The combined nausea and sleepless night left the 16km hike out to be quite the challenge. Between us and the road out was a humid jungle and a couple of mountains. Oh yeah, we had each injured our feet as well jumping in the rocks... I ended up doing the whole thing barefoot, and the jungle floor is surprisingly comfortable if all the ant superhighways are properly avoided. After about 5 hours of hiking we made it back to the main highway were we caught a bus back to the beginning of the trail to pick up greg's confiscated knives, and then continued back to our hotel in Rodadero looking forward to a night with A/C and my own bed. 
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Felipe on

You seem kind of people that likes natural adventures so I recomend you doing the 5 days treck to the Lost city of the Tayronas. Believe me you wont forget that journey. Its right there inside the National Park

Just a random colombian reading your blog and giving you advice.

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