Didem Doğan

Tayrona: a magical trip to Santa Marta’s Tayrona National Park

I have counted days in Cartagena, and have no idea that I will go to the national park of Tayrona. But if something’s going to happen you cannot stop it! I arrive late at night in Cartagena and take a cab to the hotel, as we go along the coast we come close to the old town and turn left towards Getsemani, the streets are lively and though the clock shows 11 p.m. the Trinidad Square is full of people. The cab driver stops and shows me the narrow street on the left, ‘I cannot go into that road, you’ll have to walk’. I take my little baggage and follow the road lined with double floored houses, I ask the name of the hotel to young boys; it’s not a hotel actually it’s a house with 7 rooms. I love it!.. Next morning at the breakfast, I meet a traveler next to me, a lady looks the same age as me, we start talking, she’s been here for a week now and wants to go outside Cartagena, to the National Park of Tayrona, I say ‘let’s go’, we leave Getsemani and head to the old town, arrange our transportation to Tayrona for the next day for 5 A.M, buy our tickets on the web site, and get ready the next day early in the morning. It’s a 5 hour drive from Cartagena to the east, towards the direction of Santa Marta. The park takes its name from the indigenous people Tayrona who lived here before the colonisation (now few indigenous people are left and you can see some of them inside the park selling coconuts). As we enter the park we get in the queue- do not forget to bring your passports, you can also buy the ticket at the entrance- almost every visitor is a foreign tourist. The small buses take you the start point of the trekking route, it takes about 10 minutes to reach there. We begin to talk, I have slippers but I see everyone is more prepared, they have their tennis shoes and trekking materials. The route begins on a wooden platform, then we reach to hills and sandy area, then to the jungle. In a period of two hours we pass from the mountain to the sea, we pass big rocks, see huge trees, try to avoid stepping on ants, stop to enjoy the ocean views, stop to admire the branches that have made a natural sky on us inside the jungle. So many sensations… The only way to move inside the park is on foot or on horses, the horses do not cost too much, we prefer to walk and follow the narrow route they take. When we reach to the coast, exhausted, thirsty, we jump into the sea, the blue waters of the Caribbean are gorgeous. It’s one of those places you will see once in a lifetime, so please do stay one night if you come here and do not leave in the evening as most of the regular tours do. There are three or four camp sites where you rent a hammock or a tent for the night (costs 8 to 10 usd per night). Shared bath, shared toilets, anyway you arrive your camp site so tired you do not even think about it. When they turn of the lights at night you sleep under the stars with a bunch of crazy people like you :)- and you wake up with all the living creatures who make an orchestra in the jungle, with an extraordinary feeling that you’ll miss all your life.