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Parque Tayrona

Parque Tayrona

Parque Tayrona is a beautiful, vast and diverse national park, located 1 hour from Santa Marta. The park can be enjoyed on a quick day trip, a short 2-3 day stay, or explored for weeks of hiking, camping and beach hopping.   Be sure to not miss El Cabo San Juan beach; you’ll recognize the stunning scenery from the covers of nearly every guide book of Colombia.  Hike to Pueblito for a challenging ascent up ancient Tayrona stairs to see the site of a former indigenous village. Catch a boat to Playa Cristal and marvel as you stand in crystal blue water and look down at tropical fish swimming around your feet.  Tayrona is breath taking place that will make you feel as though you’ve truly arrived in paradise.

Cost: 37,500 pesos entrance fee; 6,000 pesos bus fare each way; 2,000 pesos jeep ride to the begining of the trail

What to bring: bathingsuit, sunscreen, bug spray, towel, plastic bag in case it rains, water

La Brisa Tranquila

LA BRISA TRANQUILA

THE BEACH HOSTAL

This old coconut farm turned hostel is located on the beach 5 km past Parque Tayrona and one hour away from La Brisa Loca.  It’s the perfect beach retreat where you can take surfing lessons or lounge in a hammock, discover secret waterfalls or play a fierce game of beach volleyball.  The place boasts a communal, friendly atmosphere and you’re sure to make a friend or two. The parties here are excellent, but since the lights go out (aka the sun goes down) around 7, you’ll never have a problem getting up for your morning surf.

Cost: Hammocks to Private Suites range from 25,000 to 140,000 pesos

What to bring: bathing suit, sunscreen, bug spray, towel, snacks, a good book

Minca and beyond

Minca and beyond

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Forty five minutes up into the Sierra Nevada mountains lies the small, sleepy, campesino (farming) village of Minca. Here you can escape the bustle of the city to relax by a waterfall or quench your thirst for adrenaline in the highest coastal mountain range in the world.  Choose from number of activities offered in Minca: hiking, rappelling, ziplining, river tubing, mountain biking, paintballing, coffee farm tours, and bird watching.

Cost: 6,000 collective fare each way

What to bring: bug spray, outdoor sporting shoes

La Ciudad Perdida (The Lost City)

La Ciudad Perdida (The Lost City)

This 4-6 day trek is considered an advanced hike into the jungle to see the sacred indigenous site of the Lost City; only discovered by outsiders in the 1970s.  To access the spectacular panoramic views of the Lost City, one must first trek steep trails (no switchbacks here), wade over rivers, spot multiple cascading waterfalls, visit an indigenous village, and climb over 1,000 ancient stone steps.  Marvel at the view and your accomplishment while keeping in mind that only 10% of the Lost City has been excavated!  Kogis and Aruachos (two local indigenous groups) have said that they used the site long before its discovery for spiritual rituals and that there are many more like it hidden in the jungle of the Sierra Nevada.  Tours can be booked through our reception.  Our biggest piece of advice: bring bug spray!  You can thank us later.

Cost: Around 600,000 pesos per all inclusive tour

What to bring: BUG SPRAY, long hiking pants, plastic bags to keep things dry

La Guajira

La Guajira

Up the coast from Santa Marta lays the northern most territory of South America, La Guajira. Described by Lonely Planet as, “the kind of mystical place you read about in books, but rarely stumble upon in real life”(Lonely Planet, 2010), we couldn’t agree more with this description of one of the most unique places in the world.  Head to Cabo de la Vela for some striking views from the “Pilon de Azucar” or  take in some world class windsurfing.  If you have more time, trek up to Punta Gallinas where the yellow sand dunes plunge into turquoise waters. You’ll be in awe of the vastness of the desert and ocean that is the remote home of the Wayyuu indigenous people.  It’s a long way away from Santa Marta (about 6 hours to Cabo de la Vela, and 9 to Punta Gallinas), but we’ve never encountered anyone who’s been disappointed.  Escape to this Colombian jewel and treat yourself to some freshly caught lobster and a Polar Ice (Venezuelan beer in abundance) on some of the most secluded beaches in South America.

Cost: Varies according to mode of transportation/accommodations

What to bring: bathing suit, sunscreen, towel, a good book, all travel essentials (there aren’t many places to buy things out in the desert), your own supply of water is recommended, as well

Paso De Mango – Finca Carpe Diem

Paso De Mango – Finca Carpe Diem

Only 50 minutes away from Santa Marta lies Finca Carpe Diem. This farm and ecolodge sits on the remains of a small town used by the indigenous Tayrona people. The Manzanares River flows through the hostel’s garden, leading to numerous natural swimming spots, waterfalls and a natural Jacuzzi. The owners will happily explain the many activities happening on the farm, such as harvesting tropical fruits, planting trees, beekeeping, coffee production, and more. Much of what they grow is used for everyday cooking in the meals. You may also want to visit nature reserves, organic coffee & cacao farms, old Tayrona ruins, and undertake marked trails and horse-trekking activities through the Sierra Nevada and its stunning scenery.

It is easy to get to Carpe Diem as the owners organize free transport every Tuesday and Friday leaving from Brisa Loca around 10.15 AM. Otherwise take a buseta or taxi to Bonda (30 min) and get off at the football field (campo de futbol) where you can take a mototaxi uphill (20 min).      www.fincacarpediem.net

Cost: Dorms to Private Suites range from 20.000 to 60.000 pesos. Meals range between 7000 and 15000 pesos.

What to bring: outdoor walking shoes