Introducing Parque Nacional Natural (PNN) Tayrona
One of Colombia's most popular national parks, Tayrona is set on the jungle-covered coast at the foot of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. The park stretches along the coast from the Bahía de Taganga near Santa Marta to the mouth of the Río Piedras, 35km to the east.
The scenery varies from sandy beaches along the coast in the north to rainforest at an altitude of 600m on the southern limits of the park. The extreme western part is arid, with light-brown hills and xerophytic plant species, such as cacti. The central and eastern parts of the park are wetter and more verdant, largely covered by rainforest. May to June and September to November are the wettest periods. Many animals live in the park but most stay out of sight, deep in the forest.
The region was once the territory of the Tayrona Indians, and some archeological remains have been found in the park. The most important of these are the ruins of the pre-Hispanic town of Pueblito (called Chairama in the indigenous language), considered to have been one of Tayrona's major settlements.
For many travelers, the park's biggest attraction is its beaches, set in deep bays and shaded with coconut palms. In fact, Tayrona beaches are among the loveliest and most picturesque on Colombia's coast. Some of the beaches are bordered by coral reefs providing reasonable snorkeling and scuba-diving opportunities. Bring all your own snorkeling gear from Santa Marta - there is nowhere to rent equipment in the park. Mosquito repellent is also essential.