After Cartagena, I headed up to Santa Marta. You don’t really need to visit Santa Marta, it’s really a gateway to the National Park but as I got ill I ended up staying up there for a week. Plus the journey there, which should have taken 4 hours took 8 as we broke down and it was stressful trying to explain to the bus driver where I wanted to go. That’s the third bus trip I’ve had where they’ve broken down now. I’m hoping it’s the last. It’s actually meant to be a really easy trip ha
I stayed in a hostel called Dreamer that was really nice, I’d recommend it. It’s good fun and the people are really nice. A girl i met in panama was now working behind the bar, which is always dangerous. The first night I got there, I got ill so didn’t do anything for three days. The day after Tali and Caryn arrived in Santa Marta, the two girls id met on the plane to Colombia. We arranged to go up to Minca, a little town about 30 mins outside of Santa Marta. It’s really cute and there’s a walk to the waterfall – which incidentally was freezing! You can stay in Minca, but we just decided to do a day trip and got massively caught in the rain! It’s very easy to do, just grab a collectivo up there ( a jeep basically) but be warned they wait until they are full so you could be waiting around a while!
Next day, still feeling pretty rubbish, we packed a small back, left our big bags behind and headed for a couple of days to the national park. I figured there was no way I could come up this far and not do the main attraction. Thanks to Caryn, I was dosed up and on my way.
Getting to the park is easy, it’s about 40 mins and loads of buses. The buses go from right outside Dreamer which makes it good for access to the park.
We arrived, haggled for a hammock for over night, paid to enter the park and the sweating began! It was soooo hot! I can’t actually explain how hot it was with NO air, but the views were incredible and totally worth the struggle for me. The girls were amazing and kept an eye on me, making sure I was doing ok!
Our first stop was the campsite, you can sleep in a tent or a hammock. We choose hammocks, as the tents seemed like they’d be super sweaty! We choose our hammocks, with the mozzy nets. These are a good idea if you don’t want to get bitten. We actually didn’t and a lot of people I met got bitten alive, so it’s sensible to sleep in long sleeves, even if it is a tad hot. The campsite was slightly off the beaten track and seriously muddy! Take good shoes if you have them! I had trainers and they were sooooo disgusting by the end.
The campsite is very basic, but all you need for one night. Make sure you bring a torch, I (of course) had to clamber out of my hammock and find the bathroom in the middle of the night and it was sooo dark plus I nearly trod on a massssive toad!
On the first day we only hiked up to La Piscina beach which is one of the beaches that is safe to swim in and it’s beautiful – long white sandy beaches and palms along the shore. You quickly realise though in the late afternoon the beach disappears so make sure you start to walk back otherwise you’ll be swimming back.
In the evening after we’d trekked back to camp you choose your dinner and we played cards before hitting our hammocks pretty early as you are knackered and there isn’t really much to do after dark! Plus you are up with the cockerel and the first light so an early night was required.
The next day we walked along to Cabo San Juan, this is where the other camp site is and usually as far as people go, unless you are trekking to the lost city, which I think (??) takes days and is only open some of the year.
I loved Cabo San Juan, cute little bay with rough seas and white sandy beaches. You really feel like you are in paradise and if you are like me and sweating buckets/feeling awful the swim sorts you out.
Beware the coconuts though! One of the girls was nearly hit, it fell about a metre from her head! Which also happened to my friend Lex in Thailand. So now I’m super wary of coconuts. Death by coconut does not sound fun!
We had to leave about 1 to walk back which took about 3.5 hours to get back to the entrance, an ice lolly sold by an indigenous lady saved us on the way back. I’m not sure I’ve ever been that hot in my entire life! But I’m pretty proud we got back to the entrance and I’d walked 25km feeling awful. The views made it worth it and I’d highly recommend the park.
This is our ‘we made it’ photo!
We jumped on the bus back to the Dreamer hostel which took about 45 mins and then straight in the pool! My saviour!
Unfortunately I was then really unwell again so camped out at Dreamer hostel and had to change my plans but that’s the nature of travelling……….
Ciao until my next instalment – Medellin 😊