Living in Colombia it’s been a struggle to find quality information on how to access Colombia’s stunning National Parks - Parques Nacionales Naturales de Colombia.
Most of the Parques Nacionales Naturales de Colombia are easy to access (once you know how) and breathtaking. If you don’t need to rely on public transport it’s going to be even easier for you. Enjoy exploring.
Looking to make your Colombian Public Transport life easier? For urban (intra-city) PT Moovit has a great presence in Colombia - it will change your life. For inter-city public transport, unless it’s a festival day or week just head to the nearest Terminal de Transportes in your town and buy a ticket right before you want to travel. For festivals either book online or head to the terminal in person a few days before you want to travel.
PNN Tayrona is located in the Department of Magdalena and is super easy to access from Santa Marta and the towns surrounding Santa Marta. It’s going to be busy, but don’t let that deter you it’s a truly amazing place for a range of day hikes and it quietens down considerably once the day visitors have left. Just be mindful of bringing adequate food and water or enough cash. PNN Tayrona’s opening hours are from 0800 - 1700.
How do I public transport to Tayrona?
Once you’ve made it to Santa Marta, the easiest thing to do is make your way to the Public Market (Carerra 9 and Calle 12) and find a local bus headed to Tayrona - there’s loads you’ll have no trouble getting one at all, they depart at around 30 minute intervals. It will take around 2 hours until you get off at the main park entrance (Canaveral). Pay your park entrance (have your passport or cedula with you) and then catch a collectivo to the main trail start point.
Heading back out….hike back out to the main trail start point, collectivo and bus back. But a much, much nicer option (unless of course you are prone to seasickness) is to get a speed boat back to Tagana. To do this, the speed boat touts are plentiful at Cabo San Juan and you’ll have no problem securing a birth with a cash payment. They finish departing around 1630. You and your bag will get waterlogged! Once you’re off the boat walk directly away from the beach and up the slope until you reach Carrera 3 and from there it’s the blue local bus back to Santa Marta.
Where do I hike once I get there?
So you’ve got off the collectivo. If you’re just at Tayrona for the day you’ll definitely be following the main trail toward Cabo San Juan, be prepared to expect spectacular views. Over the last 2 years a lot of work has been completed on the trail including elevated wooden walkways. There’s still a need to hike over some rough spots, but if you have mobility constraints there is the option of horse riding in and out of Cabo San Juan. Be aware that there is very little respite from the sun on the beaches so although it’s tempting to walk on the beach, it’s much more comfortable and to be honest more spectacular to walk on the trail.
The first beach is Arrecifes (you can camp and eat here) stunning, but there’s no swimming. The next beach is La Piscina - and yes you can totally swim here - it’ll be a lot quieter than Cabo San Juan so spend a few hours here is you want a less hectic experience. And the final beach, Cabo San Juan camping, swimming and eating. Without stopping expect it to take around 2.5 hours to hike to Cabo San Juan.
If you’re planning on a few days here - there’s better access to other breathtaking walking trails if you stay at Arrecifes.
What does it look like?