Hiking in Tayrona National Park tips and more

27 Shares

Tayrona National Park is Colombia’s most visited national park, once you get there you’ll understand why. In this park the jungle of Sierra Nevada and the Caribbean coast come together so that you can admire different natural landscapes in a relatively small area, this is very unique.

Hiking in Tayrona National Park is the best activity you can do here, you can alternate this with relaxing on beautiful beaches and visiting indigenous villages.

The park is very large so preparation is essential. In this article, you can read what the best Tayrona National Park hikes are, whether you should stay in the park or visit as a day trip, what to bring, how to get there, and many more tips for Tayrona National Park.

sunrise tayrona
Cabo San Juan

What are the best Tayrona National Park hikes?

Tayrona National Park is a national park that is very popular among travelers because you can visit it in the way you prefer. You can visit it as a day trip, stay one night or more. You discover this park by hiking. Read our 4 recommended hikes below. It is possible to make more hiking combinations than just these 4, only we personally think these 4 are the best to do!

Tip: use the map below to see where the best things in Tayrona National Park are located. Click on the top right corner to enlarge the map. If you click on the star symbol next to the title, you can save this map to your Google Maps account. You can show or hide different categories on the map. You can use this map to navigate when you are in Tayrona National Park.

Tayrona National Park hike 1: El Zaíno – Cabo San Juan

The most popular hike is from El Zaíno to Cabo San Juan. Cabo San Juan is well known, if you see pictures of Colombia this is often one of the places you see. This is a watchtower from which you can see the jungle and the Caribbean Sea.

If you are going to visit Tayrona on a day trip, this is the best hike to do. This hike is diverse and complete. The big advantage of this route is that you often walk along the coast, so you have beautiful views during this walk. In addition, just like the other hikes, you can enjoy walking through the jungle and mountains.

We recommend starting the hike at 08:00 am (make sure you are at the entrance by 07:30 am). This gives you enough time during the hike to swim and relax at various beaches.

The hike starts at the main entrance of the park El Zaíno after you have bought a ticket. After the gate where your ticket will be checked, you have to determine on the spot whether you want to use a bus or go for a walk. You first have to travel/walk to the east side of the park, this is where the park starts. We recommend using the bus because it saves you 90 minutes of walking. In addition, this part is not great and it is better to spend your energy and time in the park itself. Tickets for the bus are $2 per person.

The hike is easy to follow due to many signs, at each fork, there is a sign indicating Cabo San Juan with the distance remaining. If you can, do not walk this route at the weekend because it can be busy due to the locals visiting the park.

You can walk this route as a day trip but also when you’re staying for multi-days. If you do this hike as a day trip you should ofcourse walk back the same way. You must be at the parking lot in the east where the bus dropped you off in the morning at the latest by 06:00 pm. At this time the last bus leaves. If you are late you have to walk back to the entrance in the dark, you do not want to do this if you have already walked all day, so be back on time! Depending on your walking speed, depart from Cabo San Juan back to El Zaíno around 3:00 PM.

  • Distance: 15.2km
  • Duration: 4 hours (from bus drop-off point)
  • Ascent/descent: 486m
  • Departure and end point: Main entrance at El Zaíno
Tayrona National Park beach

Tayrona National Park hike 2: Colinas de Calabazo – Cabo San Juan

You can also do this hike as a day trip. Just like the 1st hike, your endpoint is Cabo San Juan. The big advantage of this hike is that it is done by fewer people, making it a lot quieter. During this hike, you mainly walk through the jungle and mountains, so some parts can be tough. Also during this hike, you can enjoy the Caribbean beaches.

On this hike you will come across one t-junction, here you can keep left so that you can visit Playa Boca de Saco. If you turn right you will visit an indigenous village. You can also follow the road to Playa Boca de Saco and back via the indigenous village of Pueblito.

Make sure to start the walk at 08:00 am. This hike is longer and more difficult, it is important not to start too late. Be sure to be at the entrance at 07:30 am.

The hike is easy to follow because it is one road that you have to follow. During the hike, you see signs indicating the remaining distance to Cabo San Juan.

When you arrive in Cabo San Juan you can choose to walk back the same way (option 1) or walk to El Zaíno (option 2). When you walk back to El Zaíno you did the most complete hike in Tayrona National Park. We recommend this if you leave early in the morning. Keep in mind that this is a long trip so you don’t have the time to relax too long on the beaches. When you do this, leave Cabo San Juan at the latest at 3:00 PM in the direction of El Zaíno.

If you don’t want to hurry you can use this hiking combination of 1 & 2 with a stay in Tayrona.

Option 1

  • Distance: 21km
  • Duration: 6 hours
  • Ascent/descent: 1674m
  • Departure and end point: Colinas de Calabazo

Option 2

  • Distance: 18.1km
  • Duration: 5 hours
  • Ascent/descent: 1080m
  • Departure and end point: Colinas de Calabazo and Main entrance at El Zaino
Tayrona v9

Where to stay around Tayrona National Park

Option 1 great value for money: Viajero Hostel Tayrona & Ecohabs
Viajero Hostel Tayrona & Ecohabs is a 20-minute drive from the main entrance of El Zaíno. The big advantage is that you are quickly in the park. The property has a beautiful location because it is located on the beach. Ideal if you want to relax after hiking for hours in Tayrona. The rooms are big and with all the activities that the hostel organizes it is a great place to meet other travelers.
Check prices and availability for Viajero Hostel Tayrona & Ecohabs here.

Option 2: Location, Location, Location: Playa Los Angeles
Playa Los Angeles is located just outside the Tayrona park, in 5 minutes you are at the main entrance El Zaíno. This is a unique place to stay because you stay in a tent on the beach. Each tent has its hammocks where you can relax. Cool to sleep while you listen to the waves of the sea. A special location that is quickly fully booked. Book quickly!
Check prices and availability for Playa Los Angeles here
.

Tayrona National Park hike 3: Cabo San Juan – Pueblito

If you stay in Tayrona and you did hike 1 on the first day from El Zaíno to Cabo San Juan, you can walk from Cabo San Juan to the indigenous village of Pueblito. This is a 500-year-old village where you can see how the indigenous people of Colombia live.

Visiting it is great for people who travel on a budget and/or don’t have time to do the lost city trek. This village gives you a good idea of ​​how people used to live in Colombia. You can still see a few houses and several ruins.

You can climb some buildings from where you have a great view of the village. It is magnificent to see how nature takes over the entire place. Try to use your imagination and imagine that more than 2000 people used to live here.

During your walk and in the village itself you may encounter a couple of people who still live here. Try to show respect, so don’t take pictures or anything like that.

You can walk from Cabo San Juan to Pueblito the same way(option 1) or you walk from Cabo San Juan to Pueblito and back via Playa Boca del Saco (option 2).

Start at 08:00 am so you have enough time. When you stay one night you also need to walk back to the entrance so don’t be too late.

Option 1

  • Distance: 5.7km
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Ascent/descent: 596m
  • Departure and end point: Cabo San Juan

Option 2

  • Distance: 10.5km
  • Duration: 4 hours
  • Ascent/descent: 963m
  • Departure and end point: Cabo San Juan
Tayrona National Park sunset

Tayrona National Park hike 4: Colinas de Calabazo – Playa Brava

Another nice hike is to Playa Brava. This area of the park is not visited by many people. This hike is recommended for people who want to discover a part of Tayrona where you can walk for hours without seeing anyone.

The hike to Playa Brava goes through the jungle and mountains. Once you arrive at Playa Brava you can enjoy a pristine stretch of beach where you hardly see anyone else. If you travel during the high season, this hike is recommended because you avoid large tourist groups.

You can do this walk as a day trip (option 1) but it is better to stay near Playa Brava (option 2) and walk the day after to Cabo San Juan. Most travelers do this hike when they stay in Tayrona for three days. They start with this walk, the second day they walk via Pueblito (hike 3) to Cabo San Juan and the third day to El Zaíno (hike 1).

If you do the walk as a day trip, be at the entrance at 07:30 am so that you can start at 08:00 am. When you are going to stay in the park, it is not necessary to start so early.

Option 1

  • Distance: 21km
  • Duration: 6 hours
  • Ascent/descent: 1420m
  • Departure and end point: Calabazo

Option 2

  • Distance: 10km
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Ascent/descent: 710m
  • Departure and end points: Calabazo and Playa Brava

Tickets for Tayrona National Park

Visiting Tayrona costs a lot of money compared to other activities. You only can buy tickets at the entrance which opens at 08:00 am so make sure to get in line at 07:30 am. If you are later you may need to wait for 1 hour.

A ticket for adults is +/- 60,000 pesos ($15) per person. You can only pay in cash. There is no ATM nearby so bring enough cash with you. Also, don’t forget to bring your passport because they want to note and check your passport number. If you don’t have it with you, you won’t get in.

Looking for an itinerary through Colombia? Read more.

How many days do you stay in Tayrona National Park?

How many days you have to stay in Tayrona National Park depends on your wishes. If you are on a tight schedule, it is possible to visit Tayrona National Park in one day. This is fine because if you do the hike from El Zaíno to Cabo San Juan (hike 1) you have seen the main sights of Tayrona.

If your schedule allows it, you can stay in the park. The advantage of this is that you have more time. Because you have more time, you can discover more places, do more hikes and have more time to relax. If you visit the park as a day trip, you are mainly walking and trying to see as much as possible. The advantage is also when staying in the park that you are with a few people during closing hours. The majority of the people left the park because they visit it as a day trip. Being with a small group of people in this natural environment makes it a great experience.

Staying in the park isn’t necessarily better than a day trip, it depends on your interests and personal schedule. But if you can do it, it is certainly amazing to do.

Where to stay in Tayrona National Park?

Before you decide where you are going to stay, you first need to determine two things. Determine whether you will stay in the park and then which hike you are going to do. This determines where you will stay in the park.

If you want to spend two days in Tayrona you have to stay one night in the park. We recommend doing the walk from El Zaíno to Cabo San Juan (walk 1) on the first day. On the second day, you can walk from Cabo San Juan to Calabazo via Pueblito.

We recommend staying at Piscina or Arrefices. We do not recommend San Juan, as it is extremely busy and you have to rush the entire trip to get a spot. If you do this, the visit to the park loses all its charm because of all the rush. Piscina and Arrefices are nice quiet places where there are opportunities to stay. With some accommodations, you can make a reservation at the entrance of the park, check this when you arrive.

If you want to spend three days in Tayrona (2 nights), we recommend starting at El Zaíno and walking to Cabo San Juan (hike 1). Stay at Piscina or Arrefices. The second day you walk from Cabo San Juan to Playa Brava and stay at Ecolodge Playa Brava Teyumakke (book far in advance, due to its popularity, it is fully booked quickly). On the last day, you walk from Playa Brava to the Calabazo exit, and on the way back you can visit the indigenous village of Pueblito.

If you can choose between a tent or a hammock, it is better to take a hammock. This is cleaner because of the outside air, as opposed to a damp tent that is not cleaned. Bring a pillow and a vest plus protection for the mosquitoes.

What are the best places to stay around Tayrona National Park?

If you are going to visit Tayrona National Park as a day trip, it is recommended to stay close to the park so that you can quickly reach the entrance in the morning. There are a couple of accommodations around the park. In our opinion most are very expensive, the two accommodations below have a good value for money. Please note: both accommodations are quickly fully booked, so book immediately to ensure yourself a spot.

Great value for money:
Viajero Hostel Tayrona & Ecohabs

tayrona v6

Viajero Hostel Tayrona & Ecohabs is a 20-minute drive from the main entrance of El Zaíno. The big advantage is that you are quickly in the park. The property has a beautiful location because it is located on the beach. Ideal if you want to relax after hiking for hours in Tayrona. The rooms are big and with all the activities that the hostel organizes it is a great place to meet other travelers.

Location, location, location
Playa Los Angeles

Tayrona v5

Playa Los Angeles is located just outside the Tayrona park, in 5 minutes you are at the main entrance El Zaíno. This is a unique place to stay because you stay in a tent on the beach. Each tent has its hammocks where you can relax. Cool to sleep while you listen to the waves of the sea. A special location that is quickly fully booked. Book quickly!

Where to eat in Tayrona National Park?

If you are visiting Tayrona National Park as a day trip, it is best to have breakfast and dinner at the accommodation. This means you only have to eat something in the afternoon. Our advice is to bring food with you because the food in the park is expensive and not of high quality. You probably come from Santa Marta, Minca, or Palomino, do your shopping at a supermarket at one of these places. Buy food such as sandwiches, snacks, and drinks.

If you stay in the park or prefer to eat something fresh, it is recommended to eat at the restaurant at Cabo San Juan. Breakfast costs around 7,000-15,000 pesos ($1.70-$3.80). Lunch and dinner costs 16,000-25,000 ($4.00-$6.30). Important tip: eat here when a large group of people are not eating. If you eat at normal dinner time you have to wait long. If you stay at Playa Brava you can order food at the hostel.

How to get to Tayrona National Park?

There are a couple of options for visiting Tayrona National Park from one location. You can visit the park from Santa Marta, Taganga, Palomino or an accommodation near the park. We recommend staying close to the park because you are quickly at the entrance. We visited Tayrona from Palomino because Cynthia’s stomach was upset and after a lot of packing and unpacking we took the travel time for granted. However, it is recommended to stay closer to the park.

From surrounding accommodations to Tayrona National Park: from surrounding accommodations, you can stand at the road and when a bus passes by you have to raise your hand and pay +/- 1500 pesos ($0.40) pesos. You can also ask the accommodation if they offer a service to get to the entrance of the park.

From Santa Marta to Tayrona National Park: At the bus terminal or the central market in Santa Marta you can take a bus every 30 minutes to El Zaíno. Travel time is +/- 60 minutes and costs 5000 pesos ($1.25) per person.

From Palomino to Tayrona National Park: Palomino does not have a bus station, but you can stand opposite the gas station and raise your hand when a bus pass. Indicate to the bus driver that you are going to Tayrona National Park (El Zaíno). You have to pay 6000 pesos ($1.50) per person in cash. Travel time is +/- 90 minutes.

If you travel to Colombia by plane and you are looking for a car to rent, you can rent it through Rentalcars. We use Rentalcars when we want to travel by car to discover new destinations. They’re easy to use and book with.

What should you bring with you?

Try to take only the essential items with you. Given the temperature and distance, you have to travel. You can leave your other belongings at the accommodation. It is important to bring the following items with you. We only link to products that we use ourselves.

Hiking shoesPassportInsect repellent
Water: 2 liters per personSlippersCamera
Sun protectionTowelCash for food or drinks
Swim clothesToilet paperSnacks
If you stay overnight in the park you also need lights, toiletries, underwear, a long chunk, and a vest.
Tayrona wildlife
Tayrona flower

When is the best time to visit Tayrona National Park?

Tayrona National Park is located in the north of Colombia and this area is often very hot. Tayrona has a tropical rainforest climate.

The months of June to September are the best months to travel to Tayrona because then there is the least rainfall. The average temperature is 26°C.

September is the hottest month with an average of 32℃, dropping to 14℃ at night. December is the coolest month with an average of 24℃ and at night up to 13℃.

Tip: Keep in mind that during the US and Europe school holidays in July and August, it will be busier than usual, causing prices to rise.

Tip: try not to go on weekends and national holidays, these days are busy.

Hiking in Tayrona National Park FAQ

1. What are the best beaches in Tayrona National Park to visit?

The beauty of Tayrona’s beaches is one of the reasons this park is so loved. There are a lot of beaches but only a few that you can visit and where you can swim. Do not just jump into the water at beaches that are not listed here, as the current is very strong making it dangerous.

La Piscina: this is our personal favorite. It is very quiet here compared to Cabo San Juan. You can enjoy a nice swim and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.

Playa Boca del Saco: this beach is located next to Cabo San Juan and is incredibly quiet, extensive, and located in a beautiful bay. We liked it more than Cabo San Juan.

Cabo San Juan: is the most popular beach and would be beautiful without all the people, we just don’t think it’s great because of this. It is worth a visit but when you would like to relax find another spot.

Arrecife: This is a great beach to see because nature is very wild. You cannot swim here because of the current.

Playa Brava / Playa Cristal / Neguanje / Playa 7 Olas: these are the most beautiful beaches of Tayrona, only it is not possible to visit them from the main entrance El Zaíno because you have to stay in Tayrona or you have to use the entrance at Calabazo. The reason these beaches are so beautiful is that the majority of people cannot visit these beaches.

2. Is Tayrona National Park worth a visit?

Yes! It is one of the most beautiful destinations in Colombia to visit. The various hikes that you can make are fantastic. If you love nature this is the place for you to visit. The nice thing about the park is that you can do everything independently. You can also visit the park in the way you would like to visit it. Whether you’re going to visit the park in one day or several, it’s all great.

3. When is Tayrona National Park closed?

Tayrona National Park is not open all year round because they want to give nature the chance to let the ecosystem recover. The park is closed on the following dates:

  • February: 02-01-2022 to 02-15-2022
  • June: 06-01-2022 to 06-15-2022
  • October to November: 10-19-2022 to 11-02-2022

4. Do you need to be in shape for hiking in Tayrona National Park?

Due to the heat, it can be tough. In addition, you have to walk up and down a lot, which puts a relatively high load on the knees. If you have an average condition you can do the hikes without any problems. Because there are enough beaches, you have enough time to alternate walking with relaxing, so it is not difficult.

5. How much does it cost to visit Tayrona National Park?

This depends on how you are going to visit Tayrona National Park. Below is an indication per variant:

  • 1 day: 60,000 ticket + 20,000 food + 1500 transport = 81,500 pesos ($21) pp
  • 2 days: 60,000 ticket + 50,000 accommodation + 90,000 food + 1500 transport = 201,500 pesos ( $51) pp
  • 3 days: 60,000 ticket + 100,000 accommodations + 140,000 food + 1,500 transport = 301,500 pesos ($76) pp

6. How much cash should you bring to Tayrona National Park?

You cannot pay by card in Tayrona National, so you can only pay with cash. You can use the overview above to determine how much money you should take with you.

Please note that when traveling from Tayrona National Park to Palomino you must also bring money for Palomino. You can’t withdraw money in Palomino either. As a guideline, we recommend that you bring the amount of the accommodation + $40 per day per person.

Do you want to see more of Colombia

We hope this article has helped you to give a clear picture of Tayrona National Park.

After you visit Tayrona National Park you can discover more places. If you follow our Colombia itinerary, the next destination is Minca. Read here: things to do in Minca.

If you don’t follow our Colombia itinerary, you can travel from Tayrona to Palomino or Santa Marta. Palomino is on the Caribbean coast where you can enjoy beautiful beaches. Santa Marta is a city where the locals mainly spend their holidays. This is the city where travelers start the Lost City trek.

A little further away from Tayrona is located, Cartagena and San Gil. Cartagena is a city with a colonial historic center and San Gil is the village from where you can do adventure activities. Enough options to continue your journey from Tayrona National Park.

What do you think of Tayrona National Park? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Did you enjoy this article? Then save it to Pinterest for later!

Visit Guide Tayrona National Park Pin I
Visit Guide Tayrona National Park Pin II
Visit Guide Tayrona National Park Pin III

27 Shares

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Must Read