Colombia – 6 The Caribbean coast and Parque Nacional Tayrona

5th -6th December – Parque Nacional Tayrona is said to be  one of Colombia’s most unspoilt, tropical areas.  Its name came from the Tayrona Indians who once used this area as a major trading centre and lived a peaceful life there until the arrival of the Spanish.

Arriving at the park entrance we study the costs, as we have been warned that it is an incredibly expensive park to enter and to stay in.  Yes, for one day it would be over 100,000 cop for both of us.  But we have a nice surprise, as we are informed that anyone over a certain age!!…..does not have to pay the park entrance fee of 37,000cop plus another charge of 7,500cop.  We end up paying only 27,000 cop….entry for our vehicle and 2 nights camping, a great saving!

We are the only people in the very large camping area that has toilets, cold showers and many trees.  We make sure that we are not parked under any of the swaying palm trees as many coconuts are laying on the ground.  Trails of red ants carrying leaves to their nests, also have to be avoided.  The distance these ants travel, climbing many obstacles, is quite incredible.

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At night it is wonderfully quiet, without any light pollution and we can hear the sea from where we are parked.  It is only a short walk or drive to the restaurant where the food is excellent and you can even get wifi.  From the restaurant and beach there is access to the round, thatched rooms where you can stay, built up the hillside amongst the trees and with sea views.

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From here, Playa Canaveral is our nearest, long stretch of beach, huge waves rolling up the shore and completely deserted except for a couple of fishermen.

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Red flags are out on this beach but around the other side of the rocks is a small cove with calmer waters.

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Returning to our camping place, we have attractive, Mico Titi monkeys in the trees and many noisy toucans, their enormous bills looking as if they have been painted carefully with a brush!

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A  ‘must do’ is the 2-3hr walk to Arrecifes beach and back, further along the Tayrona coastline. The trail takes us through the shaded, tropical forest that fringes the beach, every now and then revealing spectacular sea views through the trees.

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There’s a large and very full campsite behind Arrecifes beach when we finally arrive.  The sea continues to be wild and rough and swimming is forbidden due to the lethal rip tides.

We are glad that we are at the quieter end of Playa Canaveral.

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 We plan to head further along the coast tomorrow for Santa Marta and maybe we will meet up with our South African friends if they are still there, before continuing to Cartagena de Indias, still on the Caribbean coastline and where we will make arrangements for shipping our vehicle to Panama.

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