To get from Cartagena to Parque Tayrona, we took the Marsol van – a direct minibus service, for 42,000 pesos, to El Rodadero. Most people stay in Santa Marta as it is the gateway city to Parque Tayrona, but Carroll’s Hostel in El Rodadero was only $7 USD and a total catch. The hostel was a 4 minute walk from the Marsol office in El Rodadero, clean, and comfortable – each bed had it’s own curtains, reading lamp, shelves, and outlets. How fancy!
The following morning, after purchasing our overnight bus ticket to Medellin for later in the week, we took off to Parque Tayrona.
- From El Rodadero, take a bus to Santa Marta for 1,400 pesos until Calle 11, Mercado Publico.
- When you get off the bus, walk three blocks to your left, and you will find mini busses for Parque Tayrona. Hop in one for 6,000 pesos, and an hour later you will find yourself in Parque Tayrona.
Once arriving at Parque Tayrona, you have to watch a “safety video,” for what reason I will never understand. From there you’ll wait in what looks like a short line, but you will wait for a very long time. Then, after waiting an hour and a half, you’ll think you’re finally through, but wait! You then have to get your bags checked at a security checkpoint. In total, it took us two hours to get through the entrance of Parque Tayrona and to begin the walk to our campsite: El Cabo San Juan del Guia.
Whatever you do, do NOT take the horse trail through the park (by foot). The caballeros told us that it was the short cut to El Cabo. It wasn’t. In fact, not only was it not a short cut, but it tacked on an extra two hours to our hike with packs. Oh, and it wreaked of horse manure. Since we thought that this was the only way through Parque Tayrona, we couldn’t understand why it was such a hit.
Six hours from arriving at Parque Tayrona, we finally arrived at El Cabo. We paid 15,000 pesos per person for our campsite (with our own gear), set up camp, and wandered the beach before an outstanding sunset.
El Cabo is known for its hammock hut overlooking the beaches and all the hippies that make it to the third, and farthest, beach in Parque Tayrona.
Overall, Philip and I weren’t that impressed with Parque Tayrona and wouldn’t include it on our itinerary if we were to re-do Colombia. We found the beach to be overly crowded and not very clean, with water that had strong currents.
5FT Tip: If it’s something you’d like to do anyway, I suggest doing it as a day trip from El Rodadero. Once again, please make sure that you walk the proper route there, and not the horse trail, as it’s bound to be more pleasant.