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“Don't stay over.” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Tayrona National Park

Tayrona National Park
Calle 8 No. 2-21 Local 2 | Rodadero, Santa Marta 470006, Colombia
+57 5 4226068
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Top Rated
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Tayrona National Park and Beach Day Trip from...
Ranked #1 of 47 things to do in Santa Marta
Certificate of Excellence 2014
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Owner description: This 37,000 acre ecotourism park includes reefs, beaches, mangroves and Tayrona Indian ruins.
Medellin, Colombia
Senior Contributor
30 reviews 30 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 25 cities Reviews in 25 cities
29 helpful votes 29 helpful votes
“Don't stay over.”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 17, 2013

This park is an exceptional chunk of beach and jungle, really gorgeous. But its concession provider takes a rather bare-bones approach, probably to keep its own profits high. There is very little information available to visitors on how to make use of the park, what species to see, what trails to take. Trails are good and well marked, but it seems a shame that there aren't guides working for the park who can help you. Park staff are genuinely rude and indifferent, which is strange for Colombia. Parque Arvi, a park atop a mountain near Medellin, is staffed to the hilt with nice people interested in helping you make the most of your visit, while Tayrona, a hundred times bigger and more famous, takes your money and leaves you sort of confused. At el cabo San Juan, the swimming beach, camping facilities were gross and inadequate -- four showers and four toilets for hundreds of visitors at a time. In the main campground you can choose between tents and hammocks so close together it's unsanitary. We stayed in a nicer-looking bank of hammocks on a boulder overlooking the beach, at a slight distance from the main campground and the bathrooms/showers. It was a beautiful starry view from the hammocks, but cold (a sleeping bag would have helped a lot). Also, after dusk, you must stay put -- descending the boulder at night, even with a flashlight, would have be dangerous. This meant of course that no one could go to the bathroom, but rather just did what they had to do, and the boulder stank. And finally, there were mice running about beneath the hammocks, chewing holes in people's backpacks in pursuit of their crackers. Probably best to make Tayrona a day trip --come early in the morning and stay till dusk, carrying a minimum of gear. Hike and swim to your heart's content. Then get the hell out of there. Unless you can afford the luxurious eco-habs you're condemned to some nasty overnight conditions.

Visited May 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Amsterdam, The Netherlands
15 reviews 15 reviews
5 attraction reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
“What a joke”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed May 15, 2013

So you get to the park entrance at El Zairo, first they tell you their ten commandments: bring your trash with you when you leave the park, no alcohol, no musical instruments (really), no plastic bags. We just nod and smile cos how the heck are you going to take trash with you without a plastic bag. Whatever.

Then 10m on we get stopped by two policemen that proceed -- without asking -- to open our bags and search literally EVERYTHING in our bags. They even leafed through our books. What, to see if I've cut a hole in it and hidden a pound of coke in there like in the movies?? We get told their plastic bag policy. We tell them we need our plastic bags and ask them why this rule. They tell us it's because turtles get caught in them. We think it's because locals throw them away and THEN the turtles get caught in them; obviously having a plastic bag in your backpack shouldn't bother the turtles too much. In the end they say that if we just give them a few plastic bags we can keep the rest. Hmpf, so much for the rules. Anyway, I get to completely repack my backpack. We heard from others the thorough bag search is only conducted on gringos. Guess who cause the most problems? Not the gringos. Way to go, Tayrona.

Next stop: administration. COP37,500 per person. That's right: $20. This had better be worth it. (Locals only pay about COP10,000.) At least with no alcohol and musical instruments allowed it'll be nice and quiet, right?

We take the collectivo to Cañaveral, rent a horse for our packs and hike the sweaty 40 minutes to Finca Don Pedro in Arrecifes, recommended by Lonely Planet.

The place seems all right, but the odd thing is there's a television set in the eating area. I know the South Americans are addicted to their TV but in a national park campground it seems very out of place. Things get worse from there. A group of Colombians start drinking. Alcohol. That's right, so you can't take alcohol into the park, but Finca Don Pedro will happily supply you with as much beer as you want. Then the laptop and the 60W speakers come out. No musical instruments? Ah, but apparently this is just fine. The noise gets louder as more beer is consumed until they finally go to bed at 3am.

The next day we got out of there as fast as we could. We'd heard so many good stories about the park but this was just a big joke: ridiculous rules applied to gringos and then the locals just end up getting drunk, making a lot of noise, and polluting the place: we still found candy wrappers and plastic bottles, even entire garbage bags to be found along the walking trails.

If you do go:
* Don't take the main entrance at El Zairo but enter over the beach so you don't need to pay the ridiculous park administration fee and undergo the bag search.
* Pack light (we had our big backpacks, not a good idea in hindsight).
* Don't stay at Finca Don Pedro but head up to Cabo San Juan and camp around there.

Visited May 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Stockholm, Sweden
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“'sleeping' in hammocks in beautiful Tayrona”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 7, 2013

Stayed in hammocks at El Cabo, in a two-story bungalow on a rocky outpost. (25,000 c$) gorgeous view, but cold and windy. bring blankets/sleeping bag and a padlock to lock up your stuff. amazing beach there, great for swimming. hiked the two hours in paralleling the beaches, not a difficult hike, pretty level and a good mix of several different kinds of forests, part of the walk being on the beach.
note: there is a student discount to get into the park (7,000 c$ instead of 35,000 c$) but you need a student card and can not be over 26 years old.

Visited April 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
7 attraction reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
“So beautiful!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 28, 2013

What a great day out! There is some hiking involved to get to the best beach out of some beautiful coastline. Even the non-hikers in our group enjoyed the scenery. The beach was a little busy but we were there on a public holiday. Read more and see photo's on http://imstillalivemom.wordpress.com/2013/03/29/tayrona-national-park-beach-stroll/

Visited March 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Mexico City, Mexico
Senior Contributor
24 reviews 24 reviews
15 attraction reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
“If you are into forest and jungles go for it”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed April 26, 2013

The best beach is Cabo and to reach this part you'll have to first take a cab from the park entrance to the parking of the Park....then from there at least walk at a very fast pace 1.5 hours to get to this beach...which means back and forth a total of 3 hours just walking to get in and out of a beach!!!

Visited April 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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