Tayrona National Park is a spectacular destination located in the northern region of Colombia. It's the most popular national park in Colombia. This protected area, which covers approximately 15,000 hectares of land, is home to a diverse range of wildlife, ecosystems, and archaeological sites, making it one of the country's most significant natural and cultural treasures. The park is situated on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, near the town of Santa Marta. It is bordered by the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, which is the highest coastal mountain range in the world, and the Caribbean Sea, creating a unique and stunning landscape. The park's geography is characterized by rocky cliffs, white sand beaches, coral reefs, and lush tropical forests.
What do you need to know?
#1 Tayrona closes it's doors every year for a few weeks
As Tayrona National Park is also a holy place for the different indigenous tribes living there it closes three times a year for two weeks. This is so that the indigenous tribes can perform their rituals in peace, for maintenance of the trails and so that nature can recover from all the hustle and bustle.
Tayrona NP is closed in 2023 on following dates:
1st until 15th of february
1st until 15th of June
19th of October until 2nd November
#2 There are two different entrances to the park
The main entrance is El Zaino. This is the best entrance as the paths are well maintained and if you want to stay for more than 1 day you can rent a tent there as well.
To visit Tayrona National Park, visitors must pay an entrance fee and follow the park's rules and regulations. Entrance fee in 2023= 15€ The park has several camping areas, as well as a few eco-lodges and cabins, for those who want to stay overnight.
We visited the park in one day and walked the trail towards Cabo San Juan and back.
An overview of the distances, you can see on the map above. I would recommend taking the shuttle bus from the entrance to the start of the hike as it can be very humid and hot in the park and the road isn't very exciting to walk on.
#3 Decide if you want to stay 1, 2 or even 3 days
If you would like to stay for longer than a day you can go to the camping area in Arrecifes. You can choose staying in at tent or hammock. that way you can visit the park more at your own pace and enjoy a wonderful sunset and/or sunrise. Chances of encountering wildlife are higher in the early morning or in the evening, when the area gets more quiet.
Remember to book in advance or be at the entrance of the park (El Zaino) at 8am when the park opens , you can book a tent or hammock at the entrance.
If you would like to stay 2 nights you can decide to hike up to Playa Brava. This part of the park is less visited as most people only go to Cabo San Juan. The hike up takes at least 3 hours and the roads aren't maintained very well. So it's a quite adventurous experience. There is only one accommodation available in Playa Brava, Ecolodge Playa Brava Teyumakke so it's necessary to book online.
You can walk from there in about 2,5 hours to the exit Calabazo.
#4 What do you need to pack for visiting Tayrona National Park?
Cool cotton clothes, a bathing suit & towel, pants and long-sleeve shirts for protection from insects and branches that can scratch the skin and from the sun.
sunscreen & sunglasses
bottle of water
Resistant and adequate footwear to protect your ankles and water resistant shoes for the beach areas.
Hat, cap, sunglasses and a light rain jacket for the rainy season.
Identity documents and a valid health insurance card: you need to present your original passport at the entrance!
There are less snakes in the Caribbean than in the Pacific region, nevertheless, it is best to take an all-purpose antivenom, that must be applied by a doctor according to the recommendations of the Colombian National Serpentarium.
What are the opening hours of Tayrona national Park?
Park hours are from 8 am to 5 pm
Do you need vaccinations for entering the park?
No, but being vaccinated against yellow fever is recommended.
Can you swim at all beach areas?
No, at some beaches it's not safe to swim, like Arrecifes for example.
Can you visit the indigenous communities?
You may encounter some indigenous people inside the park however their sacred places are forbidden to visit.
How many people can visit Tayrona National Park?
The daily capacity of the park is 6900 people.
#6 Wildlife inside Tayrona National Park
Tayrona National Park is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including monkeys, iguanas, and a variety of bird species. If you're lucky, you may even spot a jaguar or a sea turtle. If you decide to stay for more than one day, there's more chance to encounter the local wildlife.
#7 Try to avoid visiting Tayrona on weekends or national holidays
Tayrona can be quite crowded as it's the most popular National park in Colombia. If possible try to avoid visiting the park during weekends or national holidays. In long weekends (around 15/year) people in Colombia go visiting popular spots in their home country with the whole family. So it may occur that the park is more crowded on Mondays and Fridays as well. So it's best to schedule your visit avoiding these periods.
#8 Where to stay near Tayrona National Park?
I would definitely recommend to stay close to Tayrona and not visiting the park out of Santa Marta or Taganga. There are many nice places to stay nearby and you don't have to get up so early in the morning to make it to the entrance at 8 am. We have chosen for the hotel Senda Koguiwa. This beautiful hotel is at about 5 minutes walk from the park entrance.
TIP: On the way to the entrance you will pass several shops on the road, I would advise to buy some water and a snack there.
We stayed here for three nights. Directly behind the hotel you can find the river and you can have a nice walk there around sunset. The hotel also has a very large pool and convenient spacious rooms. The restaurant is very good and you can also dine in the sister hotel Senda Watapuy only a few minutes away.
Overall, Tayrona National Park is a must-see destination for anyone visiting Colombia. With its stunning beaches, diverse wildlife, and rich cultural history, the park offers a unique and unforgettable experience for nature lovers & adventure seekers.