Tayrona National Park is a relatively small National Park by Colombian standards, but it would certainly take several days to explore it in depth. The good news for anyone with limited time on their Colombia itinerary is that it’s perfectly possible to get a great experience of the park in just one day, too. Read on for tips on how to spend 24 hours in Colombia’s Tayrona National Park, with one easier and one more strenuous option.
The park opens at 8 am every day, so make sure to arrive right around this time to maximise your Tayrona experience (buses from Santa Marta, Palomino, or Riohacha are regular and easy to catch). Pay your entrance fee at the Zaino park entrance and then catch the minibus that regularly ferries guests from the entrance to the start of the hiking trails. From here, it’s easy to get onto any trail and explore more of the park.
As time is limited, it’s advisable to start hiking right away in the direction of the most popular of Tayrona’s beaches (and one of the few where you can swim), so get on the trail to Cabo San Juan via Arrecifes. However, don’t assume that just because the park is beloved for its beaches, this is all there is to experience: the hike through the jungles is in itself part of the magic of Tayrona, so keep your eyes peeled for monkeys and colourful exotic birds during the walk.
Cabo San Juan has a stunning beach where you can swim, camp and generally enjoy the experience of being in a gorgeous Caribbean National Park. Assuming you make some stops along the way during the hike in, you should arrive there by around midday. Grab a table in the restaurant and enjoy a fresh-fish lunch and a fruit juice before putting your bags in your tent or hammock and heading down to the beach for some well-deserved sunbathing and swimming.
Later in the afternoon, you can hike along the beach through the scrubby forest to several adjacent beaches, including a nudist beach if you fancy taking a dip as nature intended. Grab some dinner, retire to your hammock and fall asleep to the sound of the waves crashing around you. The next morning, you have two options: get up really early and hike back to the entrance (you are much more likely to see wild animals this way), or rent a horse for the return journey to cut down the time and enjoy a new experience.
Rather than entering the park via the more popular Zaino entrance, you can enter via Calabazos. This entrance is less popular and the hike takes you via the ancient indigenous ruins of Pueblito, which are actually larger in size than the famous Lost City. It’s a longer and tougher walk, which takes around three to five hours depending on your pace and physical fitness, but you are more likely to see animals, and the experience is arguably a more rounded one, as it includes the cultural aspect of a visit to Pueblito.
Once you arrive in Cabo San Juan from Pueblito, you can follow the same itinerary as above: spend the rest of the day enjoying the surrounding beaches, eat some fresh fish and enjoy a few beers before bedding down for the night in your tent or hammock. The next morning, grab a horse or get up early to hike through the jungle at dawn and head to the Zaino entrance for a full Tayrona round-trip.
Whichever of these two options you choose for your 24 hours in Tayrona National Park, you are sure to have an enjoyable and exciting experience. It is possible also to cut down on hiking time by arriving in the park by boat from Taganga, but you miss out on the jungle adventure aspect of a visit to Tayrona, so this is a less fun option, but if you struggle with hiking or physical fitness it is potentially a more attractive one.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.