Visiting Tayrona National Park

Colombia Tayrona Park Sign Colombia Tayrona Jungle
Colombia has a diverse number of national parks. The one I wanted to visit the most was Cocuy which is a high altitude park covered in snowy mountains. Because of the logistics you need to dedicate almost a full week to see the park properly. Above is a sign for Tayrona park which covers mountains and beaches along Colombia’s Caribbean coast and is only about an hour from Santa Marta. The sign states various things about the park such as the different types of tribal people that live here like the Arhuacos, Kankuamos, Kogi and Wiwa. On the right is some of the scenery I came across during a long day hike.
Colombia Hole Along the Trail Colombia Tayrona Indigenous People
Some parts of the trail are almost a scramble with large holes in the ground like the one on the left. At one point I visited a tribal village of the Kogi people seen on the right. I didn’t photograph the people as they seemed somewhat used to tourists and were wearing baseball caps and white T-shirts. Deeper within these mountains though are other tribal people who still truly live off the land and aren’t accustomed to foreigners. Supposedly the farther you get from the coast the less friendly they are since they are not used to contact with travelers.
Colombia Pueblito Carvings Colombia Pueblito City
My main reason for choosing this hike was to reach the remains of “Pueblito”, an ancient native city that is hundreds of years old. Originally I had planned to visit Ciudad Perdido, or the Lost City which is believed to be over 1,000 years old and much older than Machu Picchu. The Lost city is only reachable by hiking trails and you’ll need at least 5 days to get there and back. I ended up changing plans since I wanted more beach time. Pueblito is essentially the same as the lost city, but no where near as large or impressive. Above on the left was my first sign we were approaching the Pueblito, an animal carving left behind in rock. On the upper right is one of the city’s walkways leading up to what used to be terraces with grass huts built over them.
Colombia Pueblito Stairs Colombia Remains of Pueblito
Above are the remains of a long set of ancient stairs in the jungle that were once part of Pueblito. The Lost City actually is famous for its thousand stairs leading out of the jungle to the city itself. On the right is a large boulder with a section carved out to hold sacred relics.
Colombia Tayrona Beach Tayrona Beach
After the Pueblito you’ll have some more challenging hiking until the jungle opens up to the beach. Here I came across some of the most beautiful coastline I have ever seen. The only way to access this beach is by boat or through the jungle trails. Despite being a few hours hiking from the nearest road, there are a few bungalow restaurants here surrounded by camp sites that have dozens of tourists spending the night. The beaches here extend for miles in either direction so you only have to walk about 20 more minutes or so if you want your own private area. I swam here but the water was quite cold unfortunately. After the swim I walked along the beach for over an hour while enjoying perfect weather and beautiful new scenery. A trail along the beach will lead you back to civilization. You’ll be sharing it with other tourists, local Colombians and even people on horseback.
Colombia Beach Women Colombia Tayrona Coastal Birds
Colombia Tayrona Leaf Cutter Ants Colombia Tayrona Leaf Cutter Ants
I’ve seen leaf cutter ants on a previous trip to South America but that was in my pre-photography days when I didn’t have a camera and also didn’t even know much about these ants. What fascinates me about leaf cutter ants is that they are essentially farmers. They cut down leaves from a tree and carry it underground where they feed it to a type of fungus which they then feed on.
Colombia Tayrona Lizard Colombia Tayrona Lizard
I saw the species of lizard on the upper right many times during my hike. These guys were fast and always darting away and difficult to photograph. The colorful lizard on the right I only saw as I neared the coast. The smaller lizard on the left was maybe about 3 or 4 inches long while the other lizard was closer to a foot.
Colombia Tayrona Spider Colombia Tayrona Beetle
When I went hiking in the jungle in Colombia I was attacked by an angry mob of disgusting tiny flies that made sores that itched much worse than a mosquito bite. It was difficult to sleep the next night because I itched and burned all over. These larger bugs above didn’t bother me since I was able to see them. I’m not sure if the spider is poisonous but I’ve seen this species or a closely related species of this spider all over the world. The beetle was definitely harmless and I even picked it up for a while before sending it back on its mission in life.
Colombia Tayrona Pineapples Colombia Tayrona Peppers
Nothing is better than hiking in the jungle and finding a food you’d normally buy from the supermarket in its natural habitat. On the left is a pineapple that was naturally growing as well as some hot peppers. For some reason I thought pineapples grew from large trees, but you learn something new everyday on the road!

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