Parque Nacional Tayrona, Colombia: A Sliver of Heaven on Earth
Posted on April 11, 2012
Parque Nacional Tayrona is nothing less than a paradisiacal wonderland, a shard of heaven on Earth. The sublime ocean is a hypnotizing rainbow of hues ranging from abysmal indigo to turquoise to pastel aquamarine. The velvety sand glistens under the golden sun juxtaposed with a luscious tropical rainforest, while atop of the mountain sits a frosted cap, a nevado, called la Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta. My soundtrack is a symphony of pulsating noises from jungle creatures mixed with the soothing roar of the ocean.
To get to this paradise is something of an undertaking, considering I went with my mom, husband, and 25 other family members. After hiking up a hill for about two hours, we finally arrived to Arrecifes, which is the first beach. In Arrecifes, you can camp or get a hammock in communal hut for about 7 dollars. Taking into account that it gets blistering hot, we decided to stay in breeze huts rather than in sweltering tents. We arranged out our things and went to sleep excited for the morning to come.
The next day, I was awakening in bliss by the sunrise, cradled by the sounds of the ocean and more importantly, starving. I swiftly put some shorts on and headed to my favorite breakfast spot, “Panaderia Bere”, which means bakery from Bere. After crossing a creek..
… we finally arrived.
Their specialty is $500 pesos bread, which is about a quarter in American dollars. Their bread is just out of this world, it is hand made by a friendly “panadero” or “bread man” in a fire wood oven and it comes in three different flavors: cheese, chocolate, or bocadillo, a traditional guava paste. My favorite is creamy chocolate for breakfast, cheese for lunch, and bocadillo for dessert.
There are several beaches to explore, since this national park encompasses 60 square miles of land and 12 square miles of ocean. Picinitas and Cabo San Juan are the most popular beaches. Picinitas is a natural pool made by a coral reef, and it is the best and safest place to swim because the other beaches have strong rip currents. And for the daring, there is a nudist beach past Cabo San Juan!
After swimming, hiking, and tanning, I’m starving and I would love to go get an arepa snack, which is a corn flour pocket stuffed with cheese and eggs, and a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. I might sound a little picky and rather specific, considering that the closest civilization is miles away.
Luckily for me, I need to look not further, since there are these entrepreneurial hardworking ladies, that like a mirage set up shop, more like a snack bar with all sorts of goodies, in the middle jungle by the ocean. So my wish was granted, I munched on cheese arepas and refreshed myself with freshly squeezed OJ. I was very, very happy.
To conclude my exhausting day, I relaxed under a tapestry made out stars. There are so many twinkling stars, winking back at us, so many shootings stars tearing through the sky. Running out of wishes to ask, I decided to go back to my hut and repeated this routine for days to come.
For the more adventurous type, there is also La Ciudad Perdida, the Lost City of the Tayrona Indians. It is considered an archeological gem not only because was it funded 650 years before Machu Pichu, but also it survived the Spaniard’s mass-murder and looting during colonization, which means it was unperturbed by modern western civilization until it was found in the mid 1970. But I’m a lazy beach bum, so I nap on the sand, swim in the ocean, and snack throughout the day.