The humidity of the north coast of Colombia hit us the minute we stepped off the plane in Santa Marta. We travelled to Dreamer hostel with Bryony and Ryan (Bryan as we like to call them), our new favourite Scottish couple who we’d met in Medellin. The hostel had a great pool in the centre and a buzz about the place.
We relaxed with drinks at the bar until it shut at midnight…although Tiff had her own opinion on closing hours. Her 4-legged expedition to get more beers for everybody turned into a slight headache the following morning.
The next day was our first day being able to lounge around by the pool and not be in a city. We also had a new appreciation for aircon shopping centres and discovered banana bread and iced coffees from Juan Valdez Cafe!
Went to Santa Marta promenade for a change of scene with Bryan and had delicious burgers and Maracuya cocktails.
Ready Set Go…a race to get to Tyrona National Park to get our hammocks. There’s also an option to sleep in tents but we’d heard it’s a sauna! Despite being so prepared: first of all our trusty revolut travel cards wouldn’t work, so we were delayed checking out. We then jumped on a local bus (all standing jam packed) but as it got to a pay toll we were stopped and a power hungry traffic police lady came on taking photos of us and the bus and told everybody standing to get off. Turns out it’s illegal to stand and the driver was now being fined. This was news to us seeing as all our transport in South America up until then had been like sardines in a can!
So we sat on the side of the road playing cards with Bryan waiting for another bus to arrive, keeping one eye on the time worrying our chances of getting a place to sleep in the park were disappearing.
Once we did arrive at the entrance (9ish..we left the hostel at 7am) there was already a huge queue. Luckily we’d booked our tickets the night before online, highly recommend it! We went straight through and it saved us about an hour of queuing.
The walk into the park was beautiful (about 1hr 30mins), it starts off in jungle terrain, up and down wooden steps, then the path opens out as you began to hear the crashing waves and see the white sands.
A relaxing day at the beaches of Cabo San Juan with Bryan (and yes we managed to book a night in the hammocks…with time to spare!). Found a baby coconut that we named Simon, a small-like tennis ball that floated in the sea. He was ideal for playing with, although if you weren’t looking, he was a slight safety hazard.
Evening was spent with some Irish pals, we had dinner and played ‘ride the bus’ with the cheapest thing on island, cans of Águila beer. Sleeping in the hammocks was surprisingly comfy. We woke up not long after sunrise to what looked a bit like Glastonbury – people crawling out of tents and then queuing sleepy eyed with their toothbrushes. The beach was so nice, quiet, and empty at this time!
Walked 15mins back towards the entrance along the coast to a different beach called La Piscina. Empty and beautiful! Chatted to some Argentinians and Tiff tried her first maté drink. The walk back wasn’t difficult but we’ve never sweated so much, EVER!
We left the National Park and went to Journey hostel, a few 100m from the entrance. It’s a series of thatched huts on the side of a hill. The fact that it’s still under construction doesn’t take away from incredible location and atmosphere. They’ve put hammocks up where the building site is which is ideal for watching sunset. We particularly liked the open air showers and toilets with views of the Colombian mountains, full of banana/coconut/mango/maracuya trees, you name it.
Communal dinner in the hostel is a great way to meet people, then another night in bunks beds listening to nature. The birds, monkeys and insects are nice for 5minutes but after that we were so grateful for our ear plugs!
We had miscalculated how much cash we had and how far we were from any cash point so we made our own itinerary and got a colectivo bus for 1600 COP (~40p) to a beach area called Taganga. Lots of locals here enjoying the little boat town. We based ourselves at a wee place called Taco, hired paddle boards, drank rum and ate the most delicious ceviche!