Santa Marta & Surroundings

NP Tayrona, Santa Marta & surroundings

Santa Marta

Old town: the colonial center is worth strolling around, eating a fresh mango on the streets and enjoy an outside dinner in the atmospheric alley Carrera 3. Plaza Bolívar hosts the Museo del Oro (Gold Museum with free entrance), where you can enjoy pre-Columbian pottery and a great collection of gold. Another place worth visiting is

La Quinta de San Pedro de Alejadrino: the place where Simon Bolívar died, hosting an interesting museum. El Rodadero beach: this resort strip covers some high-end hotels and private clubs designed for foreigners and wealthy Colombians. On the beach you can rent a jet-ski including or excluding a ‘captain’.

Surroundings of Santa Marta

Tayrona National Park: always wanted to combine a beautiful and sweaty jungle hike with a refreshing dip in the Caribbean ocean? Don’t look further, as this is the astonishing park where these two activities can be perfectly combined. After every hour or two walking (or horseback riding) you will enter a white and palm tree filled beach where you can cool down in the waves and soak up some sun. These beaches are some of the most beautiful and raw you will find along the Caribbean coast of Colombia. The western part of the park is very dry and especially known for the daytrip to Playa Cristal. The eastern part is wetter, and famous for villages such as Arrecifes and beautiful Playa Cabo de San Juan. Other interesting places to visit include Plueblito and Playa Brava.

La Ciudad Perdida (‘the Lost City’): this archaeological site was discovered in 1972 by local treasure hunters. It is believed that it was inhabited by 2000 to 8000 people of the Tairona tribe, who fled during the Spanish conquest. The Ciudad Perdida consists of about 169 terraces carved into the Sierra Nevada mountainside, pathways and round squares. To access the lost city in the midst of a spectacular jungle scenery, you can chose between a 4 to 5 day (moderately difficult) hike of about 44 km of walking in total. Therefore, a good level of fitness is recommended. The last climb of 1200 stone steps is well worth the breathtaking views over the ‘city’ that once flourished as the heart of a network of villages, the region’s political and manufacturing center. It is considered sacred ground by indigenous tribes such as the Arhuaco and Kogi.

Taironaka natural reserve: this protected area of importance for wildlife, flora and fauna is the ideal place to enjoy peace, ancient culture and howler monkeys as well as birds during a relaxing tube ride down the Don Diego river. It is located just one hour from Santa Marta by car plus a short boat ride on the crystal clear Don Diego river. The fresh and cool water comes from the higher located glacier of the Sierra Nevada. The park boasts some ancient terraces of the Tairona civilization, a replica Tairona house, a museum and offers housing to Kogi Indians that had to flee due to the violent conflict between guerrillas and paramilitary groups. You can meet the Kogis and stay the night in one of the beautiful cabañas. From Taironaka it is also possible to do a three day trekking through the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. The highlights of this trip are the excellent views of the snowy mountain peaks of the Sierra Nevada, the abundant flora and fauna and the contact with the Kogi Indians.

Minca: about an hour inland from (and 650m higher than) Santa Marta, you will find the little mountain village of Minca. It offers stunning hikes, waterfalls, views over the ocean and wildlife such as toucans, frogs and iguanas. Minca hosts the beautiful El Dorado bird reserve. El Dorado nature & bird reserve: next to being one of the most important bird reserves in the world, this park also hosts many rare amphibians and plants. The charming wooden cabins provide you with an excellent view of the Caribbean ocean and snowy mountain peaks of the Sierra Nevada.

Palomino: about 1.5 hour east of Santa Marta, you will find the laidback beach town of Palomino, where you can hike up the hills with a guide, visit indigenous villages and tube down a beautiful river whilst spotting howler monkeys in the tree tops. In Palomino there are several lodgings right on the beach offering healthy food and yoga.

Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta: upon request, we can offer a unique travel experience by visiting some traditional indigenous Koguí and Arhuaco villages.