Day 435: Getting out of Tayrona National Park

Horseback rides out of half of Tayrona National Park today was a must. Had we more time, we would have stayed an extra day to relax longer in the park, but with only a week left of the trip, we were a little anxious to get to Cartagena. We woke up to rain, and lounged early in the morning. Dozing off, reading, listening to the rain. It was lovely. Once the rain stopped, we headed for the horses and bypassed the even muddier ravines (due to the additional rain last night) by foot. I have never been so grateful to be on a horse in my life.

Instead of taking what felt like two hours the day before to cross the muddy trail, it only took about twenty minutes. While we were on horseback, a handler ran along side of us hustling the horses along. I was impressed (and jealous of his rain boots) at how fast he moved through the ravine. We trekked out the rest of the way, then hopped in a bus back to the park entrance, another bus back to Santa Marta, then a cab to El Rodadero, while we waited for yet another form of transportation; a shared taxi to Cartagena.

When our shared taxi was over an hour late, the company decided to inform us that they had canceled the trip that night. (I thought Andrew was going to lose it.) We figured out another way and once our taxi arrived to take us to a different bus station, our plans changed one more time and we decided on a third way to get to Cartagena (thanks to our taxi driver) and hopped in another shared taxi a few blocks away. Halfway to Cartagena, we stopped off the side of an expressway, were told to hop out, and ushered to another shared taxi heading all the way to Cartagena. At the beginning of this trip, this would have worried me. At this point, I’m completely unfazed. And then, not three minutes after checking into our room in Cartagena, the electricity went out on the entire block of the city. Because, at that point in the day, why wouldn’t it?

Day 434: Getting into Tayrona National Park

Tayrona National Park is one of the ‘must-see’s’ of Northern Colombia. Everyone we met who was traveling from North to South (opposite of how we were traveling) raved about the park. From the start, we had plans on visiting and spending a couple of nights in the park. It’s along the Caribbean Coast, about thirty or so kilometers from Santa Marta (close to where we were staying in El Rodadero). Tayrona National Park prohibits cars after a certain point and you can get in and out of the park by foot, by horseback, or by boat. We heard trekking in was beautiful (lots of flora and fauna) so we opted to do that. Had we known the trek in would be as muddy and difficult (thanks to the previous few days of rain) we probably would have gone in on horseback. However, who can complain at the end of the day, when you realize this is what you trekked in for:

In Tayrona, there are three main oceanfront options to stay at. Arrecifes is the first. We were told it’s nicer (and pricier) but you can’t swim at the beach there (due to the deadly riptides). La Piscina is a small swimming cove in between without sleeping options. And El Cabo is where we were headed. El Cabo provides hammocks for rent, a campground, somewhat functioning bathroom facilities, and a restaurant with better dinner options than breakfast options. (If you’re going- bring your own cereal!) The trek wasn’t difficult at first. It was hot. and very, very humid. But other than that, not exactly hard.

Once we could see the ocean, our spirits were lifted and we felt like we were almost there! But, the trail then wove in and out. And little did we know, we still had a ways to go. Sometimes we’d be walking along the water, other times we would be in a palm grove like the one below. It began getting muddier and muddier the longer we walked.

And then, it got real muddy, and real hard. I don’t mind getting dirty, at all. I actually kinda love it. When I’m expecting it. The problem with our muddy trek in today, was that we weren’t anticipating it being hard or dirty at all. So, when our feet were sticking in inches of mud and we were slipping down small ravines, I wasn’t the happiest of campers.

Once I took off my shoes, it became a little easier to skip through the muddy ravine. The only drawback was that I couldn’t decipher what was mud, and what was horse poop. As soon as we got to El Cabo, we headed straight for the water.

The beachfront was beautiful, stunning really, but the water was full of natural debris. I think, because of the rain. We stayed in until we figured we should check in and then rented out two hammocks for the night. After we got settled and ready for bed before night fell, we walked around before dinner. Stunning. The whole area was as picturesque as everyone said it would be. Despite quite a few people camping or renting out hammocks, it was all very calm and relaxing. After our walk, we took naps (or read) in our hammocks and then enjoyed a fish dinner before tucking into our hammocks for the night. They were pretty wide and long, so I found mine super comfortable. They were strung up pretty close to each other though, so whenever my neighbor or myself moved, we would often bump into each other. And then, in the middle of the night it began to rain… and then pour… again. Thankfully, we stayed dry all through the night.