Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Post Ciudad Perdida, I was a bit... beat, to say the least! The jungle whooped my booty pretty bad! Luckily, I was at the hostel with a couple from Australia, Vanessa & Joss, that had done the trek with me. They're great, super chill and aussie like. Ness and I hung around the hostel in Taganga for a couple of days before we decided like venturing off to Tayrona Nationa Park.
I had gotten pretty excited about this trip, because a lot of people had told me it was the best beach they had ever seen.
I'm not going to bash on Tayrona too bad, because had I not done the Ciudad Perdida trek or had I not been to Thai and Yucatan beaches I wouldn't be a hater... but, I was a bit disappointed.
We took an expensive 'tourist' shuttle to Tayrona to ease the hassle of going to Santa Marta and picking up a collectivo to the main enterance then hitching a ride to the main park area. It cost about $7US for a hot and sweaty ride to Tayrona from Taganga.. and on the way back I decided to penny pinch (since the National Park wanted to squeeze me for every dime) and it cost me about $3 (plus a super long one hour walk from the main park enterance to the enterance where you pay... I decided to torture myself to save money... it's a sort of game I like to pay with myself, gah!).
The park cost about $20US to enter, regardless of the amount of days you stay. Oh yea, and it was $20 for foreigners, about $4 for locals.. AND make sure you bring your student ID because you can get a discount and only pay $3!!! Of course, I didn't get the fake international student ID card in Thailand.. but next time I go, I will! I wasn't too upset at first about paying this amount of money to enter the park, although many others have groaned about it.. mainly because I thought it would be put to good use. But we rarely saw any park rangers.. if we saw any.. there was litter around.. the streams within the jungle were soo polluted, most of the time I found a harder way to get around rather than walking through one of the nasty looking streams. I know, I am really anal about litter.. but COME ON, if they're making some insane money off this park.. they should be putting it to good use!!
Now to stop being so negative (just had to get that out), the jungle has lots of animals. We saw MANY awesome birds.. great for bird watching.. some crazy looking spiders (crazy huge and crazy cool ones.. although I only want to see them from a distance). Ness went on a walk with one of the locals and got to see monkeys, a fox, coyote prints.. and apparently her guide saw a jaguar a couple of days before hand. We stayed in Don Pedro's Campsite which was gorgeous, sleeping in hammocks under thatched roofing. Plus, it was the cheapest of all of the camps within the area we stayed at. However, after walking 1 1/2 hours to get to the camp, you have to walk about 45 minutes to get to the closest beach where you can actually swim at. There is a beach, Arrecifes, that is about 10 minutes walk away.. but it has killed hundreds of people and the waves were so insane you would think that you were in the middle of a storm!
The strangest thing, the workers at Don Pedro were incredibly nice. There was one guy, Rafael, that was a particular wise guy. We all thought he kept hitting on Ness while we were eating dinner, although we could hardly understand his Spanish.. he was just funny. His campsite was quite near ours.. and anyways, Ness and I had woken up in the middle of the night to a sheet over us (there were no bug nets on these hammocks, or blankets given before hand).. I thought she had given it to me, and she thought I had given it to her. WELL, neither of us had done anything except be SO thankful for the sheet, because it got very chilly that night. But we were quite weirded out as well, NO ONE ELSE had a sheet on them around us, our only guess was that Rafael had given it to us.. we still have not a clue though. I'm just thankful it didn't have Chloroform on it :)
Since the park is so jungle-y, its weather is much like that of a rainforest. Not too sunny, quite overcast, temperate. Ness and I found it quite depressing since we were looking for sand, sun and relaxation! But, I would recommend going if you have time during your travels in Colombia.. but if you can do the Ciudad Perdida trek instead, do that!
Instead of staying for 2 nights, as planned.. I decided that I wanted to get the rest of my trip on the road and head to Central Colombia. So, I woke up, went to the beach and then headed out on the 1 1/2 hour hike to the enterance, 1 hour walk to the main enterance (rather than paying $1 for a taxi ride :) dumb!) and a one hour collectivo ride back to Santa Marta. I hung out at my hostel in Taganga for about THREE hours waiting on 'the boss' to come and get my laptop out of security.. I'm super thankful though that it was THAT safe!!! The worker felt bad I had to wait so long and let me use all of the facilities for free, and he also pretty much forced me to take a shower. He kept saying 'muy rica' here's a towel shower, shower, muy rica, you just got back from Tayrona! I seriously don't think I could have smelled that bad :) It was really nice of him though, and I took my first night bus to Bucuramanga.