The Tayrona National Natural Park, bordered by the Caribbean Sea in northern Colombia, is a place that has magical biodiversity in the Siera Nevada de Santa Marta. Tayrona National Natural Park shelters a thick tropical forest bordered by expanses of paradisiacal beaches and a sea of coral. Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in Colombia, you can discover Tayrona on foot or horseback and even camp or dive there!
Visit Tayrona Park in Colombia
To get to Tayrona National Park, you will have to reach the north of Colombia near the city of Santa Marta. In Santa Marta, most travelers set out to explore the park in the early morning stay.
The main entrance to Parque National Natural Tayrona is in Zaino, approximately 38 kilometers from Santa Marta (a 45-minute drive).
The tayrona national park map below allows you to locate Tayrona, its entrance and its lighthouses on the pedestrian and equestrian route, Cabo San Juan being the final cape of the vast majority of visitors.
Tours in Tayrona Park
There is a classic tour that requires a short day but you can choose to spend a night there. There are longer versions also for those who wish to venture further, then a guide is mandatory. Plan to spend at least five hours in the park because once on the beaches, you will not want to leave …
The ideal way to enjoy the places and the beaches are from the opening time 8 am and till the closing time 5 pm and take a picnic kit with you. If you wish to have two days to spend in Tayrona national park, sleeping in a hammock or a tent is a must!
The map below allows you to view in detail the circuits and points of interest accessible to visitors. The part to the east of Tayrona Park is independent. At the same time, you can discover the points from Bahia Concha to Playa Cinto with a diving agency.
1. The El Zaino> El Cabo> El Zaino loop (4h walk or 2h + return on horseback)
Most visitors walk to Cabo San Juan (1h45 walk from the main entrance) and return on horseback to Zaino (the route, which lasts about 30 minutes, is not the same as on the outward journey).
On this route, you will pass by Canaveral beach, sublime but prohibited for swimming. Then, you will reach the Arrecifes, which offer spectacular panoramas, before discovering the Piscina, a beach with turquoise water minutes from El Cabo, the highlight of this hike.
You will find coconut, ice cream, water, or coffee sellers. You can use the sanitary facilities or buy something to eat or refresh yourself at points of interest.
In case of severe fatigue or sprained ankle, there will be a possibility of renting a horse on the way.
Those who have time to stay there overnight will pitch their tent, rent a hammock or a bed in one of the camping areas in Cañaveral, Arrecifes, or El Cabo (see below).
I returned this circuit on horseback because I was traveling alone with my five-year-old son; the equestrian path clears a passage between the monumental canyons,
2. The El Zaino> El Cabo> Playa Brava> Calabazo loop (8h walk with night in Playa Brava)
The most motivated take the long loop continues to Playa Brava (4h30 of additional walkthrough Pueblito). Still, you must do this portion with a guide. Once in Playa Brava, it takes 3 hours and 30 minutes to walk out of the park via Calabazo, the secondary entrance.
3. Tayrona’s diving spots
As for the western zone, divers who reach the sites of Playa Cinto, Playa del Muerto, or Chengue start from the entrance of Hacienda Palangana with a diving club generally.
Below is the map, which allows you to see the detail of the park sites and locate the location of Sierra Nevada Park and the Lost City (Ciudad Perdida) near the Tayrona National Park.
Entrance fee to Tayrona Park
To access Tayrona Park, visitors will need to purchase a ticket (on sale at the main entrance).
The rates in force in 2020 for foreign visitors are as follows:
In high season (June 15 to July 15, December 15 to January 30 and holiday WE)
From 5 to 25 years old: 22,500 pesos (5 €)
From 26 to 64 years old: 66,000 pesos (15 €)
In low season (June 15 to July 15, December 15 to January 30 and holiday WE)
From 5 to 25 years old: 20,500 pesos (4.50 €)
From 26 to 64 years old: 56,000 pesos (12 €)
Sleep in Tayrona Park
There are several options available to you. You can sleep in your tent if you are equipped or opt for a hammock or a cabin, subject to availability.
Accommodation and camping areas can be reserve in advance at the park entrance ticket office.
You can reach all the camps on foot from El Zaino or from the Calabazo entrance (to reach Playa Brava accessible with a guide).
Cañaveral can be reached by road by vehicle if needed, and the following beaches can also be reached by boat. You can camp in Cabo San Juan del Guía, Arrecifes, Cañaveral. The three sites are close to the sea, El Cabo being the one that offers the best swimming because the other two are prohibited swimming (but the setting is sublime).
To organize your trip to Colombia, I invite you to contact Magelia Colombia, an expert agency in the destination.
The Tayrona people
Tayrona Park is named after the tribes who occupied these lands before Spanish colonization. The Tayronas underwent shortly after the conquistador Rodrigo Galván de las Bastidas founded Santa Marta on July 29, 1525.
Following numerous clashes and massacres, the Tayronas have massively disappeared. Only 20% of the population survived this tragedy.
The survivors then returned to the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta heights. Their direct descendants still live in the tribes of the Kogis (or Koguis), Arhuacos (or Ikas), Sankás, or even Kankuamos.
You will certainly come across descendants of these pre-Columbian tribes in the park. They can be easily recognizable by their long hair and unbleached outfits. They have come here to sell coconuts or crafts to passing tourists.
The fauna and flora of Tayrona
Tayrona National Park is located in the northern lower part of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, which includes humid and dry forests with low hills, cliffs, and numerous golden sandy beaches.
The climatic conditions of the park give it very diverse vegetation, made up of cacti, coconut palms, mango trees, and huge trees.
Tayrona National Natural Park is home to hundreds of animal species that roam the forests freely and hide from tourists on busy days. Jaguars, tiger cats, and howler monkeys inhabit the area, and more than 350 species of birds. And then, the marine fauna is also remarkable thanks to a coral reef which helps to make the marine life very rich. Which makes it a fabulous diving spot.
You will observe immense colonies of giant ants circulating in the file on courses of an impressive length!
To plan to discover Tayrona Park
If you are planning your trip to Colombia with the discovery of Tayrona, here is what you should plan:
- Remember that the yellow fever vaccine is mandatory and can be check at the entrance to the park.
- Go light with a compact bag; because the walk is accessible to all, you will cross a jungle area conducive to high heat, potential rains, and crossing very wet marshy areas.
- Bring walking shoes, long clothes (especially if you are staying after 5 p.m.), a water bottle of sufficient capacity, a picnic, sunglasses, a cap, and sunscreen. And then take a swimsuit and a towel because you can’t go to Tayrona without swimming!