Tayrona National Park, Part 3: Final hike and the trip back to Santa Marta

Me, my trusty LLBean backpack, and my grammatically incorrect "Local's Only" t-shirt!

As much as I would have liked to stay in El Cabo forever, we had to make our way out of the park before sunset.  I definitely didn’t want to get lost in the woods in the dark! So we began the hike back to the entrance. It probably took us 3-4 hours in total.

We made our way back to Arrecifes easily. At that point B and I realized that we had both taken different trails to arrive there in the morning. So we decided to take the beach route he had taken in the morning.

Crazy salt water beach hair!

Only, at some point we must have gone off the trail because we realized we were still on the beach and we saw the wooden steps and guardrails above us. Not wanting to backtrack (walking in the sand for that long takes a lot out of you!), we decided to climb up the boulders, shown below, and take a “shortcut.” Maybe not the safest thing to try. Thank goodness for Tevas and their gripping power! B  took a (very unflattering) photo of me climbing up the rocks… but for better or worse, that picture is on his camera so you won’t get to see it!

Once we continued hiking, we realized that we were actually on a third trail that neither of us had taken before. It was pretty strenuous with a lot of upwards and downwards trekking. Eventually we made our way out. We were beat! Unfortunately, the shuttle situation was less than stellar.  They were few and far between, and even then, were packed to the gills. Since we had already been waiting a while, and saw a backpacker walking on ahead, we decided that walking may be the faster way to get back to the main entrance.  It took FOREVER!

An hour later we made it to the main road, where we waited for the next bus to Santa Marta. Well, a lot of other people were also waiting for the bus for Santa Marta. So when a bus finally did come by, there was a mad dash! People literally pushed and shoved their way onto the bus. Luckily, B and I both made it on. He jumped on through the front door, and I jumped on through the back when a passenger opened it at the last minute. Phew! What followed was one of those crazy adventures you could never have at home. Imagine being packed in like sardines into a rickety old bus, driving down winding Colombian roads – everyone gripping onto whatever they could to keep standing! This italian guy behind me summed it up right: “It’s an experience!”  In addition to the driver, there was a second guy, who was sort of an assistant. He held on to the door, but literally hung outside, calling out “Santa Marta!”  Every so often, someone would get out, or someone else would get on. Or someone would load goods of some sort (?) which would be unloaded at a later stop. But the craziest moment was after nightfall when all of a sudden the assistant guy yells out “Sentate! Rapido, rapido!” Next thing you know, everyone standing in the aisles of the bus, myself included, is crouching down, trying not to fall over! If it was tight quarters before, imagine all of us squished down in the aisles! Apparently, there were cops on the road and they didn’t want to get fined for having an excessive number of people on the bus. Go figure! This happened twice on the journey. The whole thing was actually pretty hilarious! Definitely never pictured myself being in that situation, but it was fun – everyone was good natured and had a laugh. You too can take part in this amazing experience for the bargain basement price of 5000 COP or roughly $2.50 US!

4 Comments on “Tayrona National Park, Part 3: Final hike and the trip back to Santa Marta”

  1. Wow What an experience is right! The pictures of the beaches were/are beautiful! Good thing you can laugh about the bus ride back!

    • Cathy, believe it or not, the crazy bus ride Was one of my favorite experiences! It was pretty cool to be on an authentic bus ride, and seeing how nice and helpful everyone was, even in an uncomfortable situation!

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