5 things to bring to Tayrona National Park

Tayrona is understandably one of the most popular attractions on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. Here’s what you should definitely bring to the park to make your experience a good one:

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1) A small day bag, not your whole backpack.
It’s a bit of a trek to any of the campsites if you do it on foot, and you definitely don’t want to be riding a horse while wearing an oversized pack. Considering that most people come to Tayrona for only a few days, there’s really no reason to schlep all your stuff. So do yourself a favor and just bring a day bag with the essentials.

Many hostels in Santa Marta and Taganga will allow you to store your main bag in their luggage room for a few days while you’re gone, so take advantage.

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2) A lock.
This should be one of the “essentials” in your daypack. As with many other backpacker hotspots, theft is rampant, so take care of your stuff. There are large lockers at Cabo San Juan that can be used free of charge if you BYOL. If you forget, you can buy one for an exorbitant markup at the campground store just next door.

Anything that you don’t keep in your locker overnight should be clutched to your chest like a lover in your hammock and/or secreted about your person (put cash in your undies!)

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3) Warm clothes for nighttime.
It gets COLD, guys, especially if you’re up in the Mirador. I had brought a hoodie and yoga pants and was still freezing, so learn from my mistake and bring something warmer.

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4) Food and water.
There’s a very limited choice of restaurants and vendors in the park, and the food is mostly average and bottled water will cost you four times what it does anywhere else. Don’t be a sucker — buy water before you enter the park (bags are easier to carry than bottles) and bring some snacks for emergencies too. Even if you can’t carry enough to last the whole time you’re at Tayrona, you’ll still be able to cut some costs this way.

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5) Lots of cash.
Tayrona is very expensive compared to most parts of Colombia, and it’s not like there’s an ATM there, so make sure you have enough pesos to last. Even if you followed the above advice about bringing your own food and water, you’ll definitely want to have some cash on hand to buy arepas from the seaside stand or a piece of warm, fresh chocolate bread from the local vendor who walks from beach to beach (highly recommended — just look for the guy with the big white styrofoam cooler hanging off his shoulder).

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