Sprawling some 50 miles northeast of the port city of Barranquilla, Tayrona National Park is one of Colombia’s wonderlands — a turquoise-and-green slice of Caribbean coastline teeming with flora, fauna, and photo-ops. Sheer beauty alone would make this protected strip of land a required stop on any Colombian jaunt. Factor in, however, its diverse ecosystems and indigenous culture, and it becomes one of South America’s truly enchanted places.
Tayrona’s chief glory is its beaches. Dotted with coves and inlets in unusual configurations, the coasts here are a perfect spot for watching the sunset from a hammock strung between coconut palms. Snorkeling and scuba-diving are available, but be alert: the region’s treacherous tides make some beaches off-limits to swimmers.
Venturing inland from the water, Tayrona becomes more mysterious. Its thick rainforest backs up onto the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, and contains some 30,000 acres of exotic wildlife. Howler monkeys, toucans, and cotton-top tamarins are daily visitors, while jaguars and caimans are shyer and more elusive.
Tayrona National Park is also the site of one of Colombia’s many indigenous cultures. Pueblito, a ruined village once inhabited by the people that gave the park its name, is a 500-year old settlement with stone walkways, circular huts, and round platforms carved into the terrain. The site is currently occupied by the Kogi, a tribe known for its emphasis on man’s spiritual harmony with nature.
Tayrona is one of Colombia’s most enchanted destinations. A place where mountains, sea, and forest come together, in a vision of supreme earthly beauty.
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