If you go to the north of Colombia, there is a place that should definitely not be missed on your itinerary. Just one hour from the city of Santa Marta is the most incredible place in Colombia – Tayrona National Park.
With mangrove swamps, thorny scrubland and giant boulders, Parque Tayrona is the perfect site for eco-tourism and is where the forest meets the beach.
You'll even see indigenous children here barefoot, smashing fresh coconuts with machetes for people passing through. The wildlife is abundant too and I even spotted a capybara, the largest rodent in the world which apparently weighs as much as man, as well as a a blue crab unique to the local area. Even the Andrean condor can be spotted here which is a threatened species.
Entrance costs 38,000 pesos and most people prefer to stay overnight camping near Cabo beach which you can reach by foot or horseback.
You can visit for the day but it does take a couple of hours to walk to the first beach where you can swim and you need to be out of the park by 5pm so consider staying overnight if you have more time. Buses take you from the entrance to Canavarel, the first spot in the park. If the thought of trekking back is too much then you can take a boat all the way back to Santa Marta or Taganga, a small fishing village on Colombia's Caribbean coast with really good seafood. Boats start from 45,000 pesos and leave from Cabo beach at approx 3.30pm in the afternoons.
If you're visiting here you should definitely stay at least 3 days, whether it's in a tent or an ecohab, an exclusive bungalow along Canaveral beach. Food is not as expensive as you think. Locals sell empanadas for just 3,000 pesos and water is the same as you would pay in Santa Marta at 4,000 pesos for a medium sized bottle. The humidity here is high so definitely keep hydrated.
With an area of 30 square kilometres, this stunning place has to be seen to be believed.
Gallery of Tayrona National Park