Backpacking from the historical Cartagena to the mysterious bays of Taganga, inside of the Tayrona national park, visiting waterfalls and coffee farms in Minca and a 3h tubing in Palomino river
South AmericaColombia25 days / May - June 2017
Highs & Lows
The carribbean landscapes and sunsets are ones of the best I ever seen
Take care the coast can be really hot in the dry season from 11 am to 4 pm so if you choose to go out: drink a lot of water
The caribbean coast of Colombia as an incredible and distint environement in a short territory, on this trip report is from the west to the east starting in Cartagena, passing by Santa Marta to Taganga, Minca the Tayrona national park by bus and hitchhiking.
- Cartagena, 3 nights
- Taganga, 5 nights
- Tayrona, 5 nights
- Minca, 5 nights
- Palomino, 3 days
By the airport of Cartagena and get to the turistic part with accomodations and the historical part. Modern Cartagena is the capital of the Bolivar Department, it's a huge port city so i suggest you to took a taxi because of it's a long road really sunny and dry.
Cartagena has a diversity of hostels with dormitory from 30 000$ that is more expensive I saw in all Colombia. Hotels in the historical part are present too but more expensive still.
The historical center is on a island connected by a forteficated entrance/place, its streets and architecture inside are really unic, romantic and colorful; perfect to take pictures. Cartagena is known for its sweets and delicious candies and jam, and has a market to taste and buy it everywhere.
Nightlife in Cartagena is really festive and full on its terraces and thematic bars; including live music and discos to danse all night.
However, in the day it has a really family turism and parks are really peacefull and full of cute monkeys.
You can also visit the famous San felipe de Barajas Castle, the spanish fortness in guided or free tour.
Taganga is a small fishing village next to Santa Marta: the main port city of the capital of Magdalena department.
Santa Marta is adapted for a massive turism (luxury family resort or residence and buildings on the beach). You can stay in accomodations in the touristic center but I choose to go directly to Taganga.
Taganga a beautiful discovery for me, I really liked it and loved swimming in its bays. But before going I heard a lot of bad stories about its people and how they rob tourists. Honestly I had zero bad adventure in Taganga but to be sure always went to the beach without anything but my closes.
International hostels and resorts are everywhere in Taganga, choose a secure one and equipated with hammocks on balconies and rooftop to enjoy the incredible beach sunsets that offers Taganga.
Honestly, swimming on severals bays of Taganga was the best thing I did since a long time. I recommend it a 100% even for a daytrip.
I let my backpack in my hostel in Taganga for my 5 days adventure and went with clothes and food. Fresh vegetable has been my worth mistake because of the high humidity, I lost part of the food and bag gmelln invasive rotten smell, not so well.
Get to Tayrona Entrance by local bus (or taxi) from the Santa Marta market and ask for your destination.
From the road, you'll find the entrance on your left, passport required and 45 000 colombian pesos (at the moment) to get into the park.
From there, take a bus or go for a 1h walk until a last stop to choose between a large walk parcour to access to the beaches and camping.
Food is selling by restaurants or campings only. No shops, No bank, except on the road in from of the entrance.
Discover a lot of distinct and wonderful bays and beach following the coast, walking into the tropical environment and faune and swim in the carribbean sea.
El pueblito : a hard adventure from the main beach "Cabo San Juan" a huge rocks climbing during more than 1h30. It's not recommended to climb between 9 am to 2 pm, I did the opposite and climb from 10am: don't go if it's sunny.
This type of climbing can be really dangerous if you are not use to it. Some of the rocks you have to climb can be really high to get on top and are separated by deep ditches, it's can be tiring but the way, the energy and the views are breathtaking. I really loved that adventure but an easier way exist from the top on Tayrona from the road.
Tayrona has several campings that offer to put your own tent, rent one, rent a hammock or bed in dormitory.
From the Santa Marta market by colectivo (8 people van) or from the terminal by mototaxi. Just one bus adgency was proposing Minca so better asking when you are there.
Minca is just 15 km away from Santa Marta but the climate and environment are completely different. Minca is a cloud forest where it's raining almost everyday from 11am to 4pm. So it's time for you to wake up early for your morning trails and read a good book on the afternoon in your hostel.
In the village, you'll find: shops, mototaxis or van to santa Marta, international bars and restaurants with vegan or vegetarian option. It's a wifi point if you are in a none wifi zone camping like CasaLoma.
Try a German craftbeer from Minca and go to check the french bakery, both have amazing products.
Palomino is on the main road to the Guajira desert like Tayrona Park, you can go from Santa marta, hitchhiking or waiting the bus on the road.
Palomino has a really relaxing and "hippie" vibes beach where you can see incredible beach sunrise and sunset. The Village of Palomino is full of international restaurants with vegan and vegetarian option and accommodations in hostel or camping, shops and small supermarkets.
For the 3h tubing on the Palomino river to the sea, ask your hostel to make the call for you. You will be get by a mototaxi driver with your own tube and go with him to the starting point. From there you have to climb up the mountain (about 30 minutes) and get to the water, sit down on your tube and let the river do its part. Landscapes are amazing and unic up there.
Q & A
Anything go wrong during the trip?Rains in the tropical part (Tayrona, Minca) are really spontaneous and strong. Always find a roof or a closed space to stay meanwhile it pass
Tips you would give a friend?Stay as longer you wish in your destinations if you are feeling hood and relax, you are on the Carribeans
Packing tips?Northern colombian coast has two season but it's always really hot: travel light and bring your swimsuit. Good shoes for trails and light pants : mosquitos are your worth enemy and it is not affrayed