Tayrona National Park: Home to the worse sleep of my life
This park is one of the major attraction in the coast of Colombia, known for it's beautiful beaches and hikes. I still don't think it can come close to any national parks back at home but it was still a must visit place. Most beaches here aren't swimmable because of the strong currents so the ones that are safe were so crowded. I guess it didn't help that it was Holy Week in Colombia. Colombians had the whole week off so they swarmed to the park and it was beyonddddd crowded and honestly made being at the park not as special. I purposely went to Taganga first to avoid going to the park on the weekend but I completely forgot that it was a national holiday so I wasn't even able to avoid the crowd. However it wasn't as crowded as later in the week because I had friends who went on Thursday and couldn't get tickets to even enter the park because it was already sold out. I was thinking about staying in the park two nights since I already paid for the expensive entrance fee 44,500 COP (about $15usd) and might as well make use of it because after the horrible night sleep and how packed the park was, I had no desire to stay longer.
I took a bus from Santa Marta straight to the entrance of the park. It took about 45 minutes and costed 7,000 COP on the public bus. It was about 2 hours to hike into the main beach, Playa Cabo San Juan. They had hammocks and tents there for rent. I got there a bit too late and the last three hammocks were given out to the three people right before me, so that was a bummer. I opted for a one person tent because I didn't think it would have been that bad. Oh boy was I wrong... more on that later!
I spent the rest of the afternoon in the water and tanning on the beach. The water felt absolutely amazing! I'm usually not the type to go in the water because the Pacific is freezing but with the sun beating down and the humid air, I had to get in the water. Let's say I'm about 10 shades darker now. For lunch, I brought my own food since I didn't want to spend a ton of money there. So what did I have for lunch? Tuna on cracker, again. Yummy...
I had planned to meet up with Merel and Marvin, the Dutch couple I met in Bolivia. With all the people there I wasn't sure we would actually run into each other but we did! Just in time for the lifeguards to evacuate us since there was AN ALLIGATOR IN THE WATER! Yes, there was an actual alligator right in the water we were all swimming in. It never actually got close to us or came on shore but it was still a scary idea. Looking from afar, it was eating something in the water and kept going from left to right. Eventually we all left the water and headed away from the water.
My dinner was not that much better because being on a budget I had to opt for the cheapest thing which was still 12,000 COP for only a bowl of spaghetti and tomato sauce, like I could make that for 50 cents. It really irks me to spend money on shitty meals like that when I know I could get so much more at other places for way better. But what can you do if that's the only restaurant and option you have? Nothing. *sigh. So advice, bring more food in with you!
The. Worse. Sleep. Ever.
Like I mentioned before, I couldn't get a hammock so I booked a single tent instead. I usually don't have any issues with sleeping in tents so I didn't think it would have been such a big issue until I actually tried sleeping. All these things were wrong with it:
- It was so freaking hot inside
- It was really small, I fit in it perfectly. My head touched the top and my feet touched the bottom so anyone taller than 5'5" or 165cm I feel bad for them.
- The mattress pad they provided was damp
- There were dirt everywhere so sleeping on something damp with dirt makes you extremely uncomfortable. I kept feeling like bugs were crawling on me so I was just itchy all over.
I laid in there for about 2 hours until I just gave up. At 1:30am I got out and went to the tables where the restaurant was and tried to sleep. To be fair, I wasn't the only one. There was another girl who was experiencing the exact same problem. I couldn't really get comfortable on the table so I moved to the bench. It got a bit chilly so I went to grab my jacket and sarong to use as a pillow. I moved back to the table and caught about an hour of sleep until the sunrise. So the one good thing that came out of this was that I was up for the sunrise, even though it was covered by the clouds.
The day before I wasn't sure if I was going to stay another day or not. I wanted to but with my terrible sleep I was all for leaving. I spent the next day sleeping about 3 hours on the beach once the sun came up but woke up when people started crowding the beach. This entire day consisted of hanging out and napping on the beach. We were at the same beach as the day before but after 1pm we moved to another one that was less well known and less crowded. I actually preferred it more! We stayed awhile until we had to start hiking out before it was too dark. It was another 1.5 hours to get out then bus to Palomino so we didn't want to get there too late since none of us had any reservations booked.
Overall, Tayrona Park was a really nice place to come to but I was a bit disappointed by it. Everyone made it seem like this amazing park but maybe I just had bad timing and an isolated bad experience. I also didn't give any of the long hikes ago because I was pretty over trekking and only wanted to chill at the beach. It would have been a good spot to be if it was anytime not during Holy Week or the weekend because I think it would have definitely be more peaceful and able to get a hammock, very key to a better experience, or having your own tent. WHATEVER YOU DO, DO NOT BOOK THEIR TENT.