the Vegan Trek at Parque Tayrona, Northern Coast of Columbia
The Northern Coast of Colombia, bathed in a humidity that surrounds the crystal blue waters of the Caribbean, where tropical fruit juices are ever present and Colombians wander in the heat in jeans. A vibrancy that only abounds when heat drives humanity to move, to live more passionately…
It is in this environment that almost all travelers set off to do trek in Parque Tayrona, just north of Santa Marta (by about an hour car ride or van. Ask your hostel or refer to your trusty (or not so trusty) LP). You can definitely go for a day trip, but to fully get the money out of the entrance fee (I think it’s about $10), and to get the most out of the park, including sunrises and sunsets, I recommend staying in the park at least one night.
First, you may be wondering, “Where do I sleep? Do I need a tent?”
No. Bring a tent if you want to set up, but the fun is definitely in the hammocks that surround the park. There are four different beaches, and multiple different setups and areas you can sleep at. I highly recommend shopping around, as different prices range from 11,000 ($6) Colombian pesos up to 50,000 pesos (about $25). You can also definitely, definitely bargain with some of the places, especially the less popular ones (in the middle, or off the beach).
Secondly, and most importantly, to us vegheads out there, what to eat?
I primarily recommend bringing in your food to save plata ($$$) and to eat a bit better. There are a few options in the park, a few stands that sell various things, from fruit juices to arepas (with cheese), to various other rice and meat based foods. Bread can be purchased as well. Ultimately, the food isn’t the best in the park and it is very expensive because you are essentially in a national park and they bring in all that food.
My friend and I brought in things to make sandwiches, including bread, tomatoes, avocado, and a few other fruits and nuts for lunch. For dinner, I had brought in leftovers I had made in the hostel kitchen in Santa Marta (potatoes with onions and bell peppers). We brought bread and jam for breakfast.
Ultimately, besides drinks (including alcohol), I’d bring a lot of your food in. The options aren’t that great (they are there if you use the Spanish guide and ask for lots of things “sin”) and they are expensive.
For these reasons, unless you got some sweet camping gear or a cooler or something, it might be hard to stay more than a few days (the park isn’t that big either…), but when there is a will….
Other essentials to bring:
- Sunblock. Der. You’re on the Carribean Coast.
- Bug spray. (You should get a hammock with a mosquito net, but you’ll still want bug spray for when you’re out drinking a beer at one of the bars).
- Water can be expensive in the park.
- bathing suit and towel
- Money for extras like a beer and of course you’re sleeping arrangements and entrance fee.
Have fun! It’s a beautiful park, with gorgeous water, fun jungle hiking, leaf cutter ants, and good swimming!