All you need to know before going to Tayrona National Park
– It is not possible to use credit cards in the park, so bring loads of cash! There are no ATMs and the accomodation and park entrance has to be paid in cash, but the restaurant will take cards on every order over 20 000 pesos.
– Bring lots of repellant, cause there are many mosquitos in the park: we did not use repellant and did not see a single mosquito the time we were there
– At the entrance they will look through your luggage to take away all plastic bags, knives and alcohol which is not allowed into the park: we entered together with many others arriving at the same time, and no one had their luggage looked through. A swiss army knife would have been priceless to bring with, as people pick coconuts and spend hours slamming them at rocks to open them without success.
– You need a passport to enter was also not true. We could have just locked our passports in our Santa Marta Hostel together with the other things we left there, because a copy of the passport would have been enough.
There are also two ways to enter the park from Santa Marta that can be good to be aware of, and I would reccomend doing them both.
The main entrance of the park is located at the opposite side of the park than Santa Marta. The long way around with bus took us almost an hour and cost 6000 pesos to the park entrance. There we paid the 7500 it cost to enter if you are a student, or 37500 if you are a non student. Once paid and on the other side of the entrance, small shuttlebuses will wait until full before taking you further into the park for 2000 pesos. When you get there you can either walk the two hour stretch, or get horses for 32 000 pesos each to carry you or your luggage. We found a nice guy who let his horse take Elise and all our water, while me the guide were running beside the horse the whole way through the jungle.
Even though it was a great walk through the jungle, we decided to do the simpler way on the way back, which was to take a speedboat leaving from El Cabo beach to Taganga, where we could take a bus the last bit to Santa Marta for 1800pesos. If you reserve the boat in advance it will cost you 45 000pp and you will be guaranteed a seat, but if you are flexible on departure days you can also wait until half an hour before the boat leaves and pay 30 000 pesos for the boatride, and for us it worked out well to wait until last minute since we were travelling on a weekday. The boatride was by far the quickest, taking only 45 minutes, but it also got us soaked with bucket loads of water when riding full speed through the rough waves.
Although we brough way too much food and water compared to what was worth bringing in with the prices inside, we also took with us some lighter things that I would really reccomend bringing in:
– Bags of instant soup, as there was free water inside. Noodles would also have been smart.
– Powdered ice tea that we could mix with the cold water instead of buying expensive soda inside the park
– Crisp bread and bisquits to eat when we missed the breakfast serving time. The meals are also only served three times a day, and in between you can only buy drinks and some bread that a guy at the beach sells.
El Cabo is the camp where most people choose to stay, because there it is the only place with a beach you can swim in, there are three ways to sleep: In hammocks up in the huts which have the best view (25 000pp), but gets really cold in the night or at the hammocks down by the toilets and restaurants (20 000pp) laying side by side under a roof keeping it a bit warmer. It is also possible to sleep in a tent (25 000pp) which can get really warm, but is what we thought was the best option. There are also two double rooms on top of the huts costing 150 000 each: the suites of El Cabo.
During the opening hours of the restaurant (7.30-10.30, 12.-30-16.00 and 18.30-20.30) you can also use one of the four chargers in the restaurant for your electronics, and store them safely away into the locker rooms that are open from 7.00 to 9.30. El Cabo has got all you need to live a simple life, where you can relax totally free from internet, crime and stress in the outside world.