From Santa Marta we went to Playa Costeño with a bus (6000 peso pp, one hour ride). You will be dropped at the intersection of the main road and a narrow dusty road going to the beach. There you will be most probably greeted by the mototaxis and you’d rather take one of them: the walk to the hotel can be exhausting in the heat!
On the Costeño beach we stayed in the Los Hermanos hostel, a perfect place for chilling, beaching, playing some games, getting to know people and partying. Three French brothers built this hostel recently and offer the best treats for the backpackers and travelers. You can drink delicious cocktails on the beach, hang out in the hammocks or observation nets and relax in the swimming pool at Los Hermanos. There are about three – four hostels on that beach and every day in the week they offer different activities in the evening, don’t hesitate to ask for the agenda. We stayed there two nights only (but would have stayed longer), because for the Christmas Eve everything was booked out.
Tayrona National Park
Spontaneously, we decided to spend the Christmal night in the Tayrona National Park as all hostels at the Costeño Beach were booked. From the Costeño Beach, a mototaxi to the entrance of the park costs about 10000 peso pp.
The park entrance fee was 66000 peso pp at the time we visited it (December 2018). You will also receive two security bracelets with emergency numbers which you wear on your hand especially when you go hiking alone. The third bracelet was for a tent.
To rent a tent for a night costs 80000 peso, a hammock – about 20000 peso pp or more if you want to have a sea view, there are also some bungalows for rent for those who prefer a touch of luxury even in the national parks. You have to make a choice what you are gonna take either at the entrance of the park or also spontaneously decide on the spot (I think, there was no difference in price). We didn’t know about the second option and booked a tent directly at the entrance.
By the way, at the entrance you and your bags are searched through for alcohol or drugs. So if you are planning to bring something with you, make sure it is well hidden. At the park you can buy beer but nothing else. However, we have seen some locals drinking wine…
From the entrance to the park, you can take a bus to the beginning of the hiking trail for 3000 peso pp. We decided against that and walked all the way.
If you aim to camp in Cabo San Juan, as we did, a 3-hour simple, very pleasant walk lies ahead of you. On your way you will see plenty of sellers (freshly squeezed juice, coffee, water…) and many tourists. By the way, you can also rent a horse to cover some kilometers (from Piscina to Cabo San Juan it will cost you about 15000 peso pp).
At all beaches in Tayrona the current is very strong, it is advised against swimming anywhere but in the designated places. We have even seen a sign mentioning 100 people who sank there (according to the locals, the data is obsolete and now these are already more than 200 people).
In Cabo San Juan there is a restaurant and a shop which opens around 9 am, closes for a pause over lunch and opens again for the dinner. At the shop you can buy some basics like water (0,5l – 3000 peso) and beer (0,5l – 5000 peso). Chicken in the restaurant costs 20000 peso, fish – 30000 peso, breakfast starts from 7000 peso. Freshly squeezed juice from various berries and fruit costs 6000 peso.
At the camp, very basic mixed showers are open 9 to 11 AM and 4 to 9 PM. I have to repeat – they are indeed very basic and if you are a tall person, you can catch a glimpse of a foreign naked body while taking a cold shower in a shower cabin with rather low walls. The floor is earth and mud, so bring a person with you who will help you to keep your clothes from getting dirty and your flip-flops.
In Cabo San Juan, mesmerizing views to the coastal line, the golden river dividing the beach in two and the endless tropical forests in the background are revealed from the observation point at the beach. We were lucky to spend there the magic hour in the evening. I’m sure that the magic hour in the morning is as amazing!
On the way back from Cabo San Juan, we went to the Pueblito and hiked notably less touristic way to the Finca La Gordita (other exit from the park). After you have reached Pueblito, you will encounter some shops on your way and can refill your water resources and enjoy freshly squeezed juice. The trip took 4 hours and was fairly exhausting as we had to climb some huge rocks on our way going all the way up. If you have bulky luggage or any injuries, think twice before hiking to Pueblito from Cabo San Juan; you will need both your legs and hands for this challenge…
A taxi from the exit from the park to the Costeño Beach costs about 26000 peso.