Tayrona National Park – Colombia

Offering a swathe of stunning beaches, lush jungle interior and rich biodiversity, Tayrona, overlooking Colombia’s Caribbean coast, is as magnificent as it is remote.

Within striking distance of the imposing Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta Mountain range, and

covering 30 sq kms of maritime landscape, it is one of my favourite regions in Colombia. Part of the charm of this wilderness biosphere lies in the fact that it is under-visited, and the resulting opportunities for solitude it provides.

The trick, however, is not to be seduced by the pristine coastline – dominated by Robinson Crusoe style beaches fringed by abundant lush jungle, swaying palms and towering rocks. The fearsome strength of the surf that smashes along the park’s rugged weather-swept beaches hides a potentially problematic and hazardous landscape. Far better to soak it all up from the calmer sandy beachfronts, and higher jungle cliff regions, rather than plunging headfirst into the inviting rip-ridden waves.

The flora and fauna impressively number over 300 species of birds, 30 species of reptile, 15 species of amphibians. In addition to over 3,000 species of fish, corals, plants, algae, sponges, annelids, crustaceans, and reptiles.

Whether planning a short visit, or an extended stay within the national park boundary, it is easy to access on foot. With, as my photos show, a majestic collection of coastal hugging paths, winding through abundant jungle, across dramatic beachscapes and hidden away secret rock-viewpoints.

Although you can access a variety of coastal areas easily, you can also rely on a combination of sandy beach cafes, bars and restaurants. All of which prove to be much needed pitstops along the way.

Remember to take masses of water, high-factor suncream, insect-repellent and a zeal to explore. The strong tropical sunshine and heat can be relentless. Especially if you hit it on a breeze-free day. We certainly recommend you take transportation to where the jungle itself starts. Thereby missing out on the unforgiving 1½ hour walk-in along the National Park road.

Equally, you may prefer to join one of the local boat charters, or ride in by horse.

I have no doubt that the extensive display of dramatic coastline scenery, with a chorus of birdsong and jungle sounds, will combine to give you one of your trip highlights in this Caribbean region of South & Central America.

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