Parque Tayrona/ Sierra Nevada de Santa Mart
Nothing quite compares with the mystical Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. The highest coastal mountain range in the world is located within an isolated national reserve that can welcome snow at its peak and tropical thunderstorms at its base all in the span of a few short hours. This mountain range was built different than any other. So much in fact, that this volatile and ever-changing region has sequestered entire civilizations that were only discovered 50 years ago, and harbors an eclectic array of indigenous tribes that live on to this day at the mercy of its ever-changing weather. The Sierra Nevada has witnessed the whole span of crazy events spanning from armed conflict, to being a sanctuary for nature’s most elusive species. To the north of this extensive natural park lies a desert and neighboring region of La Guajira, and to the south, lies Santa Marta, a city visited by pirates and artists alike. At Wonder Travel we will guide you on how to properly traverse and explore this natural beauty that awaits to be discovered. One thing is for sure, this Colombian region is pure magic.
1. Ciudad Perdida Trek
A visit to Parque Tayrona is not complete without a visit to Ciudad Perdida. Ciudad Perdida is an archeological site considered to be Colombia’s own Machu Picchu. Nestled deep within Tayrona’s mountains, this trek takes a minimum of 4 days to complete. While it might not be for the faint of heart, it’s definitely worth seeing the unique flora and fauna and the rapidly-changing landscapes. Since Ciudad Perdida’s discovery in 1974, indigenous people and Colombian authorities have done their best to preserve the terraced remains. Along the 42 km journey, visitors will encounter indigenous tribes that have lived on this region for thousands of years. These kind tribes will often interact with visitors and show them a little bit about their way of life. Ciudad Perdida and its surroundings are protected by the Global Heritage Fund, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserve natural and historic sites from unsustainable tourism.
Beaches in Tayrona are the main attraction for day visitors and with good reason. There are hundreds of stunning beaches, inlets, natural pools, small bays and everything in between. Some beaches are completely empty, others are more frequented, and there’s a healthy amount of nudist beaches too. Beware of strong rip tides, as the treacherous waters have swept away many visitors over the years. Exercise caution and heed the warning signs posted on each individual beach.
Castilletes and Cañaveral
These two beaches are right next to each other, and are quite close to the Tayrona Park entrance. One would think this beach is very busy but it is not on the main trail so very few travelers consider it. These beaches are unsafe to swim in. There is a small section called La Piscinita where swimming is allowed.
Arrecifes is one of the largest beaches in Tayrona, and it’s gorgeous. Swimming is not allowed here but cherish a sunset here and the whole trip is worth it.
A hidden gem. It’s safe to swim and it’s a wonderful, calm space with less crowds. Not to be confused with La Piscinita.
Cabo San Juan
Cabo San Juan is Tayrona’s most famous beach. This beach has it all. Great views, soft pale sand, Caribbean turquoise waters, and it’s got waters which are safe to swim in.
Palomino is located just north of Santa Marta and north of Parque Tayrona and it’s definitely worth making a day trip out of it. Palomino is a quaint little town that is gaining popularity at a steady rate. This small village is nestled between the foothills of the Sierra Nevada and the vast expanse that is Guajira’s desert. Great nature-induced activities include tubing down Rio Palomino, enjoying walks down its long beaches, and maybe taking a surfing lesson. Do enjoy the vibes that Palomino has to offer, specially with its stunning views toward the snowy peak. A little fun fact about Palomino as it’s gaining popularity amongst the ecotourism industry: many sustainable architecture firms are building eco hotels here and are studying ways of keeping hotels cool without the need of A/C and instead relying on wind currents, eclectic designs and refreshing materials that tend to keep the temperature down.