The only big disappointment in my whole trip to Colombia was that the Parque National Natural Tayrona was closed from 28 January till 28 February 2018. I only found out two weeks before I left to Colombia and it was closed exactly during my holiday period. I could not change days and I was really disappointed when I found out I have to admit. But on the other hand I had no influence on it and I understand where the decision came from.
The area is getting so popular the last years that the ecosystem was getting into danger. With this measure, soils, water sources and air are recovered; it reduces the stress of ecosystems and contributes to nature, which at that time of the year, faces a dry season. Eventually I was glad to help the nature by given it a rest for one month.
My flight from Medellín to Santa Marta was very smooth and comfortable (first class, by coincidence, for 60 USD). Next trip is from Santa Marta airport to my accommodation at Costeño beach. I arranged an airport pick up in advance, for 100,000 COP a private taxi took me in 1,5 hours to my next destination. The transport here is difficult, there are not too many taxis around and if so, they are expensive.
Tip: Make sure you make an early booking for the flights, this way you have more choice and get the most economical flights. For a bit more you can get a flexible ticket, which allows you to change if the booked dates don’t match you travel plans.
Busses go from on the main road in both directions, Santa Marta and Cartagena or Palomino. So if you can’t afford a taxi the busses are a good alternative. Motorbikes will bring you to the main road from your hotel or hostel. The roads are not paved besides the main road.
I already booked the popular Costeño Beach Hostel months in advance, the hostel is close to the Tayrona Park. The plan was to arrange the trip and sleep in the park with Costeño as the base. But I had to change the plans because the park was closed and I could extend my stay in my private bungalow with one more day to a total of two days, lucky me! This was the closest option to the Tayrona park, so hope to get a bit of the feeling here, and that worked. Beautiful surroundings with countless palm trees at the beach.
I was interested in Costeño beach hostel, because they pretend to have a surf spot in front and boards rentals. To be honest I was a bit disappointment in that. The boards I saw were full of dings and only a few to choose from. The waves were so messy and a lot of current and a backwash on shore. Colombia is not really known for its good waves and that is what I could see. Perhaps not the right timing and season, the water was quite brown as well; reminded me of my own Nordsea….. But instead, perfect time to relax and walk on the beach and read my book in my hammock on my balcony!
It was for the first time that I did not have many contact and connection with the follow travelers in Costeño. Everybody had groups and behaved all very popular. Felt a bit old for some reason here. Because the place is quite remote, breakfast, lunch and dinner are served at the premises. The food (especially the vegetarian option) was amazing. It was a good experience and the surroundings are terrific if you love palms and the beach!
Tip: Make sure you have enough cash on you. In this area Tayrona & Palomino are currently no cash machines. You can pay with credit cards in hotels, please check in advance!
The same for the beaches in Palomino, you get the Caribbean vibe here with white beaches and palm trees. This area is a perfect break between the Colombian cities and mountains (see other blogs). I really missed the ocean at some point; I planned some beach time for me here, in total five nights.
Palomino is situated between two riverbeds. The town is small and the roads are not paved so it becomes a dusty and sandy situation in the main street with all the hotels and restaurants. You can see the area is growing fast.
I booked the Makao Beach hotel at the beach, a great luxury boutique hotel with sea view. I loved it here very much, the personal is friendly and helpful and the breakfast is super. The room is modern and minimalistic. One thing is that the water is cold….so no warm water in the shower; it’s warm outside and you get used to it. I still recommend this hotel, I think the rest of Palomino doesn’t have warm water either and this location is perfect at the beachfront!
Tip: This hotel and other places at the beach have happy hours for cocktails during sunset, which tasted superb in the hammock with a sunset! Love the beach life!
During the day a nice walk is to Río San Salvador is a MUST DO. It is a walk of 50 min from the center of Palomino to this quiet part with beautiful scenery where the river meets the ocean. The ocean here is dangerous and wild it has a backwash and shore break, not really safe to swim. In this river bedding it perfect for a safe swim and watching the birds. Not so many people around as well, not like the other river ending of Río Palomino where you find more locals, tourist and restaurants.
Tip: Crack you own baby coconut on your way to the San Salvador River, you can find many in the small palm trees along the beach. Take a young coconut; hit it hard with the top of the coconut against the trunk of the palm. If you do it right you can open the “head” of the coconut and drink the healthy coconut water; surviving Colombia!!
In Palomino town or lets say street, you can find a lot of restaurants and hotels. I had dinner in the popular Restaurant SUA which was ok, I had to wait too long for my food, due it was so busy and even had to change placed to stuff more people in.
I liked the small and local restaurant Los 7 Mares much more. The ladies working there are friendly and the food is very tasty; ate the delicious fish salad. The place is decorative with a Caribbean style. Enjoy!!
Relaxing River Tubing
The main attraction here in Palomino is the river tubbing. Be prepared it is a big walk up the Sierra Nevada Mountains with amazing views. I was picked up by a motorbike at my hotel and brought to a place where I needed to pick up my huge tube. With the tube we drove a little more up the hill and the remainder we had to walk. Wearing only flip flops is not that easy to walk the steep hills, but I managed to get there. I did not pass the Indiana village, which was disappointing. I was told it was another tour, but that was a bit vague, because others booked the same tour and did pass them. Maybe because I was alone…..
Tip: Bring a dry bag if you have one and the same for a Go Pro camera (or other waterproof one). The route is picture perfect so you need to capture that not only with your mind but on camera too! And sunscreen of course, which can all be put in the handy dry bag…
The route over the Río Palomino is beautiful and you can hear and see many animals during the tube ride. The main activity is chilling and enjoying the jungle scenery. Some parts went a bit faster with the currents than others but it never gets dangerous. In the most parts of the river you can even stand up. My guide pushed me in the right deeper directions if needed.
It is a chill activity except from the first climb of course which you already forgotten immediately when you are in the fresh green water!!
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