After our stay in La Mojarra, we were ready for the hot and humid weather of the Colombian Atlantic coast. As we drew closer to the sea, the houses by the road started to look more run-down. Also, the road became increasingly littered with rubbish, making the contrast between the center of the country and the coastal region a bit more clear. We spent only a couple of days in Barranquilla recharging our batteries before taking off for a few days to the Tayrona National Park, a protected area 34 Km away from Santa Marta.
At the entrance, we payed the fees for ourselves (35,000 COP for foreigners & 13,000 COP for locals) and for parking the motorbike (7,000 COP per day). We left our helmets at the park rangers office and made our way to the parking lot. From there, it took us about an hour to reach the beach using the new trail that has some nice wood platforms. However, we were happy to be wearing shoes instead of flip-flops to walk on the muddy patches. We saw some tourists arrive at the beach with mud stains up to their knees. Surely they must had taken the old trail which is now reserved for the horses and mules.
When we got to Arrecifes we decided to take a break from the heat and humidity by having a nice cold beer at the fancy restaurant operated by Aviatur. Granted they give you a chilled glass to enjoy your beer, but you have to shell out $5,000 COP. There, Alain bumped into Marcin, a guy from Poland he met while climbing in Chile. Marcin and his artist girlfriend Barbora were building a sculpture called “La Ola de la Conciencia” (The Wave of Awareness) made of plastic bottles collected at the park.
After finishing our beers, we decided to rent out a couple of hammocks at Finca El Paraiso ($14,000 COP per person, per night) and have dinner and more beers at their restaurant, since they offer the best deal around. Their fruit juices are unbeatable and the rice with shrimps became our favorite dinner option during our stay. I also enjoyed Lorenzo’s company since he loves eating plantain chips as much as I do.
The current in Arrecifes is way too strong for swimming, so everyday we hiked all the way past La Piscina (a beautiful and tranquil stretch of beach) and Cabo San Juan (the most popular spot for camping, but it’s also more crowded and noisier than our choice at El Paraiso) to get to the more secluded beaches. The hike would take us about 1 hour but it was fun to walk barefoot through the jungle and kept us in good shape. Besides, it gave us a chance to see a bit of the flora and fauna of this wonderful place.
Our reward after such a hike was finding ourselves mostly on our own on a beautiful and secluded beach. For some reason, most people only make it as far as Cabo San Juan and stay there. One rainy afternoon, we were the only people at the beach and had not seen a soul for a while; so we decided to go skinny-dipping!
After four nights sleeping in a hammock, our backs were ready to go back to civilization. Also, our wallets were completely drained. Prices inside the park are way higher than in the rest of Colombia and some of the places don’t offer much value for what you pay. Once again we were ready to hit the road and go back to Barranquilla to start planning our trip for our next destination: Canada.
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