Best Time to Visit Tayrona Park to Avoid Crowds and Bad Weather

Tayrona is one of the most important, and probably the most famous, National Natural Park in Colombia. Most tourists coming to Colombia pay a visit to this park that boasts spectacular beaches apt for adventure sports and an unforgettable getaway. This is definitely a mustvisit destination on your Colombia holiday. 

In this post, you will find all the information you need to know to visit the amazing Tayrona Park in Colombia, such as how to get there, the best time to visit, what you can do there, and some recommendations. 

Discovering Tayrona Park 

Tayrona is a protected area of 150 square kilometers (58 sq mi) in northern Colombia with stunning landscapes and biodiversity. It comprises both the sea territory on the Caribbean Sea and the coasts that plunge into the wild jungle that hosts the highest coastal mountain on earth – the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.  

Flora and Fauna at Tayrona Park

In Tayrona, you can find several bays such as ChengueGayracaCintoNeguanje, Concha, Guachaquita, white-sanded beaches, and mangrove swamps around them, dry, rain and cloud forests, and marine ecosystems such as coastal lagoons, rocky shores, coral reefs, among others. 

In fact, the park has one of the best conserved dry forest in the country. The plant diversity is huge – species such as Ceiba or sandbox tree (Hura crepitans), Trupillo (Prosopis julliflora),  Aromo (Acacia tortuosa),  Brasil (Haematoxylon brasiletto)Caracolí (Anacardium excelsum)Higuerón (Ficus sp.) and avocado (Persea americana) grow in the park. 

Wildlife present in Tayrona Park is also worth mentioning. The place is a paradise for birders since 396 bird species can be spotted, from shorebirds to high mountain birds, among which are the Rufous-vented Chachalaca (Ortalis ruficauda), Blue-billed Curassow (Crax alberti), Sapphire-bellied Hummingbird (Lepidopyga lilliae), Brown-throated Parakeet (Eupsittula pertinax) just to mention some of the forest ecosystem. 

As for the mammals, 59 species are recorded, including the Grey-bellied night monkey (Aotus lemurinus)White-fronted capuchin monkey (Cebus albifrons), Howler monkey (Alouatta seniculus), sloth (Bradypus variegatus), armadillo (Dasypusnovemcinctus)Red brocket deer (Mazama americana), jaguar (Panthera onca), ocelote (Leopardus pardalis), anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla), as well as 40 species of bats and 5 marine mammal species. 

Reptiles include the Green, Loggerhead, Hawksbill, and Leatherback sea turtles, the iguana, the American crocodile, and the boa constrictor are found. 

Indigenous at Tayrona Park

Tayrona is outside the territory of indigenous reserves, so no indigenous communities live there. However, the 4 indigenous communities that inhabit the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta (Kankuamo, Kogui, Wiwa, and Arhuaco) consider the coastal and lagoon zones within Tayrona as part of the sacred ancestral territory

This land must be respected as part of the cultural heritage of humanity and therefore protected by all visitors. Although a nature area shouldn’t be named an ancestral territory or a protected area for us to preserve it! Check other National Parks in Colombia open for ecotourism 

How to get to Tayrona Park 

Tayrona Park is 34 km (21 mi) from Santa Marta, in the Magdalena department, on the Colombian Caribbean coast. Access from the city is easy. If you haven’t organized a private transfer, you can take a taxi or a bus (usually leaves from the city’s market) and go on the Santa Marta – Riohacha route (called Troncal Caribe) for about 50 minutes. There are 3 entrances:  

El Zaino Entrance

El Zaino is the main entrance and allows you to access the following beaches in this order: CastilleteCañaveralArrecifeArenilla, La Piscina, Cabo San Juan, the Nudist Beach (Boca del Saco) and Playa Brava.  

Neguanje Entrance

If you plan a day trip and are not staying in the park, you can get to the Neguanje entrance (kilometer 5 on the same road to La Guajira), from where you can reach ChengueGayraca and Playa Cristal beaches.  

Calabazo Entrance

Last, 2 km before getting to the Zaino entrance is Calabazo. This is the entrance to reach the ruins of Pueblito, after a 3-hour hike. If you continue the hike, you get to Cabo San Juan and Playa Brava. 

By Boat from Taganga

Access to the park by boat is also possible. The boats leave from the village of Taganga, 5 km from Santa Marta, and take about 45 minutes to drop you in Cabo de San Juan area. 

Best time to visit Tayrona Park 

For quieter beaches and easily available accommodation, schedule your visit to Tayrona Park in September, October, and November. 

Like all tourist destinations in Colombia and the whole world, Tayrona Park gets really crowded during the peak seasons. Peak season in Colombia occurs from June to July and December to February.

Additionally, the holy week, 8 days, is held in March or April. It is better to avoid these moments and all holiday long weekends if you want to access relatively lonely beaches.

You should also check the Parques Nacionales webpage beforehand because the park closes for one month (usually January or February) every year.  

As for the weather, May, JulySeptember, and October are the rainiest months, but rain is occasional and does not greatly affect your plans, while the dry season may restrict bathing on some beaches.

What to do in Tayrona Park 

Lost City – Tayrona Park, Santa Marta

Beaches

In Tayrona, white sandy beaches with crystal waters surrounded by mangrove swamps and forests are the main attractions. The most visited ones are:

  • Cabo San Juan del Guia, which is beautiful and huge,
  • La Piscina (large shore and calm waves)
  • Arenilla (the small zone between Arrecife and La Piscina)
  • Cañaveral (where you find Ecohabs Tayrona, although you cannot swim in there),
  • La Piscinita (small zone next to Cañaveral apt for baths), and
  • Arrecifes (also not allowed to swimmers but with several campsites). 

Hiking

There are 4 hiking trails that go from low to high difficulty and from 1 to 4 hours. 

  • Kogui or Knowledge trail from Cañaveral to Arrecifes (low difficulty, one hour).  
  • Arrecifes Boca del Saco trail going through Arrecifes beach, the natural pool and Cabo San Juan del Guía (low difficulty, 2 hours).  
  • The stone road to Pueblito from Cabo San Juan del Guía (high difficulty, 3 hours).  
  • Calabazo – Pueblito – Cabo San Juan del Guía trail (high difficulty, 4 hours). 

Submarine fun

For those who are more adventurous, snorkeling and diving are available too. The areas for scuba diving are Isla Aguja and Granate, this activity is managed by the diving schools of the village of Taganga.

You can snorkel in Neguanje, in front of Playa del Muerto, or in the Tayrona natural pool. At Gayraca bay you can dive and snorkel. 

Birdwatching

As mentioned above, birdwatching in Tayrona Park is one of the best activities since there is huge diversity of avifauna. 

Fauna and Flora observation

Other animals that can be observed here are the howler monkey, cotton-top tamarin, deer, ocelot, and the jaguar, reptiles such as the blue poison dart frog, iguanas, and the American crocodile. Playful dolphins cheer lucky tourists too. Local flora includes evergreen trees, moss, bromeliads, and orchids. 

Pueblito

Other activities are observation of cultural and archaeological heritage in architecturally important areas. One of them is Pueblito, where you can find ruins of the Tayrona ancient indigenous civilization, after a hike that takes about 3 hours. Its stone structures such as terraces, paths, and stairs are well-conserved. 

Where to stay in Tayrona Park 

There are different types of accommodation in Tayrona Park for all tastes and budgets. 

Lodges 

  • Cañaveral sector: 14 ecohabs (eco-lodges), all for double accommodation, but 11 with an option for extra beds for up to 4 people in family accommodation. Designed like the traditional indigenous houses with views to the Cañaveral beach.  
  • Los Naranjos: ecohabs in Finca Barvolento, 2 minutes from Los Naranjos beach. 8 cabins with a private bathroom and terrace. There is also a private house on this beach, 5 minutes from the main entrance of the park.  
  • Arrecife: 2 independent cabins, each one for up to 5 hosts, in Arrecife beach. 

Camping zones 

Several beaches offer zones to set a tent or a hammock and spend the night under the starred sky. These are: 

  • Cabo San Juan offers public bathroom and a restaurant. A small station of the Colombian Civil Defense is located there. 
  • Playa Brava: a remote beach, 4 or 5 hours walking from Zaino o Calabozo, with public bathrooms, cabins, and a small restaurant. 
  • Arrecife: the best beach to camp, near the police and Civil Defense stations and with a great restaurant. The camping area doesn’t have views of the sea, though. 
  • Cañaveralarea without views of the sea, near La Piscinita. 
  • CastilletesFinca with large camping zones, public bathrooms, and a restaurant. Bathing in this stretch of sea is not allowed. You can get there directly by car. 
  • Bahia Concha: the camping zone is shaded by large trees and the sea is calm and crystalline. You can get there directly by car. 

Tayrona Park 2020 Entrance fees 

The entrance fee to Tayrona National Natural Park varies depending on the nationality and age of the visitors, as well as the season of the year. These are the entrance fees for 2020: 

Peak Season 

(15 June – 15 July, 15 December – 15 January, Holy Week and long weekends) 

  • Colombians, resident foreigners, and tourists from Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru (ages 5 to 25): COP 20,000 
  • Colombians, resident foreigners, and tourists from Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru (over 25 years old): COP 28,500 
  • Non-resident foreigners (over 5 years old): COP 63,500 

Low Season  

  • Colombians, resident foreigners, and tourists from Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru (ages 5 to 25): COP 18,000 
  • Colombians, resident foreigners, and tourists from Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru (over 25): COP 24,000 
  • Non-resident foreigners (over 5 years old): COP 53,500 
  • People born in Santa Marta (ages 5 to 25): COP 9,000 
  • People born in Santa Marta (over 25 years old): COP 12,000 
  • Children under 5 years old and Colombians over 65 years old have free entrance. 

 Additionally, depending on the vehicle you enter to the park in, you have a different fee: 

  • Car: COP 14,500  
  • Van: COP 37,000  
  • Bus: COP 78,000  
  • Motorcycle: COP 10,000 

What you should consider when you visit Tayrona Park 

  • Entry hours are from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. 
  • The park has a daily capacity of 6,900 tourists, so make your reservations in advance. 
  • Having yellow fever and tetanus vaccines is recommended. 
  • Always carry your ID, it is required at the entrance. 
  • The introductory talk about environmental education is mandatory. 
  • The climate in the park and surrounding areas is tropical hot, with temperatures ranging from 27 to 35 °C (81 to 95 °F). Therefore, use light cotton clothes, preferably pants and long-sleeve shirts. Also, wear appropriate hiking shoes, waterresistant if possible. 
  • Bring a cap, sunglasses, sunscreen, insect repellent, and a lantern. 
  • Only swim in permitted areas. Bathing in the sea is allowed until 6 pm. 
  • Access to the indigenous sacred places is forbidden 
  • If you hire a guide, make sure they are certified and preferably local. 
  • Don’t bring any plastic bags, alcoholic drinks, instruments, and pets to the park, these are not allowed. Also don’t leave garbage (even organics) anywhere. 
  • #BreatheTayrona – During January/February, the Tayrona Park closes its doors for allowing the restoration of its ecosystems, by the request of the indigenous communities in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Check the status of the park before your trip. 
References 
About the authors

Ana María Parra

Current content writer for Sula. Modern Languages professional with an emphasis on business translation. Interested in the cultural adaptation of written and audiovisual content.  Passionate about knowing new cultures and languages, tourism, and sustainable living.

9 Destinations for Trekking and Mountaineering in Colombia  

Trekking and mountaineering in Colombia are becoming more popular among all tourists, not only backpackers. This is because these activities provide a different experience that allows people to connect with nature while discovering incredible places. Both require a good physical condition though, so think of this when planning an expedition!  

Colombia offers many trails for go trekking or mountaineering, from the world’s highest coastal mountain in the Caribbean coast to rock hills in the Amazon and some of the greatest snowy peaks in the imposing Andes mountain range that splits into 3 branches in Colombian ground. 

If you are an adventurous traveler, you need to know the diverse trails for trekking and mountaineering in Colombia. Here they are! 

1. The Lost City  

Lost City, or Teyuna, is the greatest archaeological finding in Colombia. This ancient indigenous civilization was built in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, along the Buritaca river, by the Tayrona culture.

Over 200 stone structures including interconnected roads, stairs, terraces, canals, and ceremonial buildings are the remnants of the city, which was forcibly abandoned during the Spanish colonization. 

The round trip is 50 km long approximately and to enter, you must climb a 1,200 step stone stairway through the forest. This unique trek experience takes an average of 4 days but goes up to 6 depending on your physical level and stops done during the trip.

You will not only challenge your body but get to interact with Kogui local indigenous group and discover the immense biodiversity that inhabits this sanctuary. No need to say more, live the Lost City trek yourself! 

2. Tayrona National Natural Park  

The foothills of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta merge into the intense blue-colored Caribbean sea, forming gorgeous white sanded beaches surrounded by mangroves and dense jungle with many endemic fauna and flora species. This is the breathtaking landscape you can appreciate in Tayrona. 

To get to the camping zone from the entrance, you need to take a 2-hour hike and there are other trekking trails:

  • The Kogui trail or Knowledge route from Cañaveral to Arrecife lasts 1 hour and has a low difficulty level.
  • The Arrecifes – Boca del Saco trail, also moderate and 2-hour long, in which you can pass by Playa Arrecifes, La Piscina and Cabo de San Juan del Guia. 
  • Another popular trek is Pueblito, something like the mini version of Lost City where Kogui families live. 

3. Los Nevados National Natural Park 

Los Nevados National Natural Park is in the Central mountain range of the Andes and comprises the three coldest thermal floors.

This means that here you can get to know Andean forest, paramo, and glacier ecosystems. 38 nearby municipalities and crop fields are provided with water thanks to the rivers that descend from the paramos and glaciers in the park. 

The snowy mountains that belong to this protected area are Ruiz, Tolima, Santa Isabel, and El Cisne, Quindio, and Santa Rosa paramillos, which form the greatest volcano complex in the country.

Many tourists visit this park to climb to the highest peaks of these mountains that go up to 5,300 meters above sea level!  

Currently, Nevado del Ruiz presents volcanic activity so access is restricted. Here are the two snowy mountains within the park you can climb to. 

4. Tolima and Santa Isabel Snow-capped Mountains

With its peak at 5,220 MASL, Nevado del Tolima is one of the two currently available options for mountaineering in Colombia.

The excursions take 4 days in total and usually start from Ibague or Salento. When you get to the summit, a view over Los Nevados Park and the Magdalena valley will take your breath away -on sunny days, of course.

This is one of the most demanding treks in Colombia because of its steep slopes and only experienced mountaineers should attempt to climb to the 2.8 km2 glacier.  

Located between the snowy volcanoes of Tolima and Ruiz, Santa Isabel is the lowest snowy mountain in Colombia.

Unlike others, it does not have a conic structure with a crater but a set of domes created by lava outpouring that allows the glacier thermal floor to existing. Poleka Kasue, as the Quimbaya indigenous culture called it, has its highest peak on the central summit at 4,968 meters above sea level.

Unfortunately, it suffered deglaciation in recent years, passing from 1.9 kmto 0.5 kmin 10 years. In fact, IDEAM studies have determined that it would take only a decade for this glacier to become extinct. 

The trip to Santa Isabel’s summit starts from Pereira, Santa Rosa de Cabal, or Manizales and takes 1 or 2 days to the summit.

Among the attractions of the trek is the viewpoint of Laguna del Otún and Paramillo del Quindío, and the gorgeous paramo landscapes that boast a frailejones valley and endemic flora and fauna species.

Once again, it is recommended to have experience in mountaineering and take all the safety precautions. 

5. Puracé National Natural Park 

Another Andean volcanic zone, this time declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, this is Puracé NNP.

The Coconucos volcanic range has 11 volcanoes, among which Puracé is the only active one. The Magdalena, Cauca, Patía, and Caquetá rivers (some of the main rivers in Colombia) originate in this mountain, along with around 30 crystalline lagoons and several sulfur springs for hot baths.

It is located in the Cauca department and its name means “fire mountain” in the Quechua language, spoken by the homonymous indigenous culture that protects the territory. Puracé is a privileged spot for those looking for the majestic Andean condor, which soars over the paramo ecosystem. 

Departing early from Popayan, a road takes you to the park entrance, where you will find various trekking trails: one directly to the volcano and others with lower difficulty that pass by its beautiful water bodies and are 20 km long approximately. The landscape is stunning and the park is quite calm. 

6. El Cocuy National Natural Park  

Sierra Nevada of Güicán, El Cocuy, and Chita is the largest glacier mass in Colombia: within two mountain ranges it has over 20 snow peaks from 4,800 to 5,330 meters above sea level, Ritacuba Blanco being the highest.

It is located in the departments of Arauca and Boyacá and is sacred territory for the Uwa indigenous community, because of this there are some restricted areas.

This trek is particularly stunning cause you can find waterfalls, lagoons, important rivers such as the Magdalena or the Orinoco, frailejones, Andean condors, spectacled bears, and white-tailed deer! An unbelievable view. 

Mountain climbers of all levels visit the park to go trekking for 5 days usually, although now there are simpler trails for one-day hikes that start from El Cocuy municipality. However, it is better to be in good shape for any trekking trail, especially at such high altitudes. 

Notice: Since February 10th, 2020, El Cocuy NNP closed temporarily due to public order issues. Check its status on the web page before your trip. 

7. Chingaza National Natural Park

Chingaza páramo is a National Natural Park on the Eastern range of the Andes, between the departments of Cundinamarca and Meta.

Here you will face a cloudy environment hiding the blue sky, which reflects on the lakes surrounded by frailejones. Plus, it is possible to spot spectacled bears, deer, pumas, páramo tapirs, Andean condors, and Andean Cock-of-the-rock in the lower areas near Villavicencio.  

Trekking trips start from Guasca or La Calera municipalities and depending on the starting point, you will get to different lagoons. These water bodies were sacred to the former inhabitants, Muisca indigenous communities.

Among the most famous ones are the Siecha Lagoons, three small glacial lakes with high biodiversity around them. The maximum height you can reach is 3,800 meters above sea level and the route to the lagoons can be done in 1 day. This is an excellent option for practicing trekking near Bogota. 

8. Mavecure hills  

In the Guainia department, part of the Colombian Amazon region, three majestic rock hills rise from a pristine jungle by the Inirida river.

El Mono, El Pajarito, and Mavecure belong to the millenary Guiana Shield and can be reached by boat on a 3-hour trip from Puerto Inírida, the capital. Out of the three majestic black rounded hills, you can only climb Mavecure, which is 170 meters high.

Although it is not a really demanding hike that takes about an hour, the experience of sailing the river for hours and exploring a remote natural territory makes it a whole adventure. 

Take into account that this is a tropical zone and the weather here is hot, therefore you should be vaccinated against tetanus and yellow fever, also you should dress properly (long pants and rain boots) and keep with you a piece of basic safety equipment.   

9. Chicaque Natural Park 

Just 30 minutes away from Bogota, this eco-park covered by cloud forest offers several hiking trails for all adventurers. Although the routes individually do not take much time, there are over 20 km (12.5 miles) of hiking trails that you can complete in over 1 day, if you stay there, whether in camping zones, the hostel, cabins, or treehouses.  

After going into the forest, you can get to the Eagle’s peak, a viewpoint at 2,290 MASL from where you can see the Tequendama region and the snow-capped peaks of Los Nevados NNP on clear days.

Other trails are:

  • Roquedal, 667-meter long trail of high difficulty;
  • Butterflies, 1.6 km trail that leads to the hostel;
  • Oak Forest, 2.5 km trail surrounded by 30-meter oak trees;
  • Waterfall, 3.5 km long trail of high difficulty with a 70-meter high gorge; and the 
  • Colonial trail, 1.5 km long which was used by Muisca and Panche natives to connect the Bogota plateau with the Magdalena valley in the pre-Columbian era.

It is worth visiting Chicaque park on the outskirts of Colombia’s capital. 

These were 10 destinations to go trekking and mountaineering in Colombia in different regions of the country: the Caribbean coast, the Andes mountain range in the central region, and the Amazon jungle to the south.

From tropical to cloud forests, moorlands, and glaciers, trekking in Colombia is always a new adventure! 

If you want to know more about the most incredible natural destinations in Colombia, plan your trip with us!

References 
About the author.

Ana María Parra

Modern Languages professional with an emphasis on business translation. Interested in the cultural adaptation of written and audiovisual content.  Passionate about knowing new cultures and languages, tourism, and sustainable living.