Tayrona National Park is located on the Colombian Atlantic coast near the town of Santa Marta and covers an area of 15,000 hectares. The Park is home to small bays, pristine beaches, coral reefs, mangroves and a mountain range – Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, which makes for a unique ecosystem as it rises up from sea level to 5,770 m. Within this mountain range which is the backdrop to the park are more than 100 mammals, 200 birds and numerous reptiles.
In Tayrona National Park there are also various archaeological sites that prove the existence of ancient cultures such as the Tayrona city of “Chairama” where it is believed that a community of at least 400 indigenous people inhabited during the pre-Columbian period. These tribes are all descended from the ancient Tayrona people who were one of the most advanced pre-Columbian tribes to have lived in the Sierra Nevada.
These towns and cities were joined by Stone pathways which extended from populous mountainsides up to the peaks in the Sierra. These were circular windowless houses with stone terraces, palm roofs and painted with a whitewash. The real accomplishment of engineering were the cities that were built upon terraces that were first used for agricultural purposes and then later for homes. They channelled the mountain streams through their homes and through their crops to be sure to prevent an erosion of the land.
From the bay of Canaveral a three hour hike over stone pathways leads to Pueblito, one of the most well-established Tayrona developments given the prevalence of bridges, channels, terraces and pottery. The beaches of Arrecifes, La Piscina, Cabo de San Juan del Guía y Castilletes are within reach from Cañaveral as well. These beaches are all very distinct, some with still inviting waters, others with turbulent surf and thick with vegetation but all making the visitor feel as if he or she has been transported to another world, one of savage yet paradisiacal scenery.
In the park itself there are many opportunities to enjoy such activities as mini treks, snorkelling, bird watching, kayaking, rent bicycles or just contemplate nature. It is best to stay in one of the Eco Habs inside the national park rather than outside, as here you can access both the beaches and dense jungle from your doorstep.