As most anyone will tell you, Tayrona is blessed with some of the most beautiful, jungle-fringed beaches around. This fact alone means that not visiting this extraordinary park means you’re really missing out. So, it’s settled that you’re going, right? Well, as you’ve been so obliging as to agree with me, I think it’s only fair that I help you out in return, by giving you a quick lay of the land, to minimise the possibility of getting lost on one of the tracks.
This is necessary, because getting a little lost is a distinct possibility. The poorly signposted tracks can be a bit baffling at first, and I don’t want you walking around in circles when there’s the very pressing business of dozing on a beach to get done. Perhaps the best advice I can give, then, is to ask the locals. If you see a friendly-looking American backpacker (hey, it does happen!) that seems to know where they’re going, check with them that you do, as well. Even better, if you see a gum-booted, moustachioed donkey leader, give them your best “donde esta…”. Just like Alanis Morisette’s nasty ex, they ought to know.
There are some other important tidbits to divulge, too. Once you’ve made it to the main entrance, wait for the cheap shuttle to take you to Canaveral, where the plush Ecohabs and horse stables are situated. That is, unless you want to leg it all the way there on tarmac and risk taking the wrong path – if you want to do that, by all means, go ahead – you might just see a monkey or two! Either way, from Canaveral, there is a main path that takes 45 minutes to Arrecifes with its various accommodation options – or quicker and easier if you opt to hire a horse. From Arrecifes, another main path winds its way around the coast to the backpacker haven, El Cabo (just listen for the typical backpacker call: “Have you done the Lost City? How long are you in Colombia for?”). From El Cabo’s beach, two directions lead to two very different attractions. You can either head further up a path through the trees and rocks for a bit more than an hour, and experience for yourself the ancient village of El Pueblito. From there, another path through the village will get you to the secluded beach of Playa Brava. Or, whilst facing the beach, you can head back the Arrecifes way, but take the path immediately to your left, and find yourself at La Piscinita, with its lovely, safe little beach, food stalls, and a lady selling drinks. If you’ve done that, you’ve headed east. If you head from El Cabo west along the coast instead, three more beaches are hidden away, including one sporadically frequented by nudists.
So, there you have it: beaches, lost villages, donkeys – even people in the nuddy. Tayrona offers it all. Take your time to take it all in.