Finca la Jorara is a great option if you have want to have a beautiful accommodation close to Parque Tayrona. I had a great time there, an exclusive beach, mountains, a natural pool and a beautiful garden. I could pick the fruits from the trees, delicious. La jorara has nice rooms and it's very clean. The food is also very good.
Good accommodation for a good price!
Take a look at www.lajorara.com for more information
Next to Parque Tayrona and Palomino
One of the most romantic visions of Taryona National Park is conjured up by descriptions of sleeping in a hammock out of a rocky outcropping of the cape of Party Central, known locally as Cabo San Juan de la Guia. Though technically part of the main campground and paid for with them, this nearing mythic proportion backpacker crash pad is certainly atmospheric something to write home about. But be warned, be prepared. This perfectly circular enclosure has a concentric grouping of hammocks that somewhat approximate sleeping at sea albeit the rocky wave motion. Waves aside, it is still like being suspended over a body of water and thus much cooler than it is on the mainland just a few hundred meters away. So, bundle up and don't expect to sleep in a t-shirt or your bathing gear.
This just might be your one chance to really sleep in your sleeping bag. What do they charge for such luxury? 30,000 COP ($15) and though that is not cheap by Colombian standards, it is perhaps a great deal by local ones. This is actually a really different experience and if properly prepared likely worth the splurge. Even if you are not planning on camping here, it is a worthwhile excursion from the beach as it affords great views of both sides of the coast. I must say this was one time I wished I was staying somewhere in Tayrona besides my nice comfy tent. Of course, I'd bring my bag if planning on swinging in this special circle.
The campground at Cabo San Juan de la Guia did have a great location but this made for a much more crowded one as well. This was a few weeks after the main season but there was nowhere that you could really pitch your tent without being next to someone. Of course, if you are looking for a party atmosphere, this is it and with the park's largest restaurant on the premises, it's likely party central in the evenings. It also has the advantage of having two swimming beaches right there and another two within a very short walk. You do pay for all this convenience as hammocks and tents are 20,000 COP ($10) per person. It's a little cheaper if you have your own gear but not enough considering the facilities. Reportedly, there are only two toilets and a very basic communal showering area for masses camping there. Food in the restaurant was even more expensive than at Arrecefes so it's obvious that the people running the place are a bit mercenary to say the least.
It would have been easy enough for us to carry our gear the 40 minutes it would have taken from Arrecefes, but after seeing it the first day sans our packs, we were glad we had left our stuff set up where it was. It also made it easier to hike out of the park on our last day. We did however make the trek up the beach to Cabo each day to enjoy the beaches there and along the way. This was a walk we would never tire of and since it is short and very scenic, it's not likely anyone would mind doing it, even on a daily basis.
One of the knocks against Tayrona National Park is that the accommodation options are limited and quite pricey for what you get. After visiting, I have to agree with this general assessment. To be honest, the only thing that is reasonable is to camp with your own equipment. Of course, most people do not have their own equipment and are left with either sleeping in a hammock in a large open (but covered) area, renting a tent, or staying in over-priced bungalows that are rustic to say the least. This was one instance that we were very happy to have our own tent and were not envious of the bungalows in the least. They looked much like the rest of the complex at Finca Paradiso at Arrecifes: in need of a serious face-lift or at least a major cleanup. The tents were not very good quality and were expensive as well and sleeping in a hammock has a lot to be desired though it is certainly the cheapest option for those sans tent.
The tent area was one grassy patch with not much tree cover. There wasn't much privacy and this was not an overly crowded time so can imagine that during peak season, it must be a zoo.
That said, we found a spot close to the palms along the beach with no neighbor, or so we though. Actually, the next morning I discovered thousands of them. I had inadvertently set the tent up in the dark on the path of a colony of ants going from their nest in the campground to the palms where they were gathering food. I tried to avert their path and eventually they did start going around (albeit VERY closely) the tent. I guess it would have been easier to move the tent but I was too lazy since we only had a couple days. As it turned out, there was no harm done on either side though we did have to be very careful getting into and out of the tent!
The view was fantastic and great birdwatching opportunities abounded. We even saw two toucans close to our picnic table. While the bathrooms were modern enough, they were in need of a serious cleaning. The showers in particular were a bit on the grimy side. So much for paradise.
We paid 48000 COP ($24) for two nights. This is a per person charge coming to 12000 COP ($6) each per night which doesn't sound bad but the facilities were minimal and not kept very well either. It is also a private campground unlike campgrounds in US National Parks where you figure some of the money goes to the park system, not likely here. Many argue that it is per person but since it was only the two of us, we appreciated that a group of 20 people was not camping next to us for the same price we had paid. Hey, we were just happy they were not next to us period and if this system discourages big groups, it's fine with us. At any rate, it's cheaper than the hammocks (15000 COP) and much more private to boot. Admittedly, we only brought our camping gear so we could do the trek at El Cocuy National Park at the beginning of our trip but were very glad to have it for this portion of it. It almost made carrying it all for two months around Colombia worth it!
Most of the visitors sleep in hammocks in Arrecifes, a 45 minute walk from Cañaveral. Donkeys can help transport your bags to your campsite. There are three places to stay and eat. The most rustic is Finca Don Pedro which has hammocks and campsite. The best option for campers is Yuluka, run by Aviatur. Beside hammocks and a campsite, there are also cabañas and a restaurant. Finca El Paraíso is closest to the sea; it has hammocks, campsite and a restaurant. Arrecifes is actually the best base to explore Parque Tayrona but due to strong currents it is not safe for swimming.
If you walk another 45 minutes to the west you come to Cabo San Juan which has one of the most beautiful settings of all accommodation options in Parque Tayrona. Here you'll find a campsite with two small beaches safe for swimming. You can either sleep in a hammock next to the bar/restaurant or on a nearby hill (with gorgeous view), or in a tent. The campsite is somehow poorly managed though it's one of the cheapest accommodation options in the park.
I did not stay in none of the campsites, only walked through or passed by, so I can't tell the exact prices. But one thing is certain: you can't beat the amazing setting of Cabo San Juan!
As for the accommodation in Parque Tayrona, there are two possibilities: cabañas made in the style of Tayrona huts and the eco friendly camping. The first option seemed very nice but unfortunately not for our budget. After sleeping in a hammock for several nights in La Guajira we finally wanted to have a little comfort so we did not think about staying in a camping either.
We decided to choose one of the few posadas in front of the park. It was more than half cheaper than staying inside the park and also more convenient since we did not need to carry all the luggage with us. Hospedaje Anita was the closest to the entrance of the park and the good thing was it also had a restaurant. So it was easy in the morning to have an early breakfast before heading to the park.
The rooms are in the other building behind the restaurant. They only have three rooms which all come with bathroom and fen. We chose the one farthest from the street. It was clean, comfortable and well worth COP 40.000 for the two of us.
There are about 12 or so hammocks placed all together in an outdoor cabin area with a thatched roof located a small hike above the rocks at San Juan del Cabo beach. There are also 2 cabins located on the second floor but they are locked and a hefty nightly fee has to be paid to be able to sleep there (though someone managed to sneak in for free when we were there; it was FREEZING so we couldn't exactly blame him).
You should register with the park attendants/officials at the entrance to San Juan del Cabo on the east side of the campsite. Cost is 20,000 pesos a night which is a bit much considering the park entrance fee (31,000) and the fact that you are only getting a damp hammock. However, again up to your own discretion, there is not much monitoring of who is staying where and when.
The view in the morning is absolutely fantastic. The waves are crashing, the seabreeze, the beach and jungle below you... but the major warning is this: IT IS ABSOLUTELY FREEZING! SO cold at night. The hammocks are fine to sleep in provided you are warm. I didn't bring enough stuff but recommend that you have blankets or a sleeping bag or if nothing else, a warm jacket, scraves, pajam pants, sweatshirts and a couple pairs of socks!
I slept in a hammock in Cabo San Juan. As I arrived I paid 12 000 pesos (August 2008) for a night and was shown to a hammock. It was under the same roof as the restaurant and there were very little space between the hammocks. Mine was a narrow hammock and sometimes when I tried to sleep on the diagonal I hit the hammock of the person sleeping next to me. I was afraid there were going to be too much noise from the restaurant late at night but the lights there were turned off quite early and it was quiet during the night. There are no mosquito nets over the hammock, but I slept with socks, trousers and long sleeves on my shirt. I don’t think there were so many mosquitoes anyway. There were hammocks at a few outer places in the area as well, some of them were just above the sea. And in Cabo San Juan you can also sleep in a tent.
In Arrecifes, which I passed, you can also sleep in a hammock or in a tent, but here you can also sleep in a cabin. Someone I talked to paid 50 000 pesos for his room.
If you are looking for basics ie... mosquitos for no extra charge...this is the place. You can either bring your own tent or sleep in a hammock in on of the two palm covered areas for a couple of bucks. The place is popular with locals and you will see plenty of teenagers as well as a lone backpacker like me. It has a bar and a restaurant (you pay a couple bucks more for the remoteness) At the end of the day it is basic but met my needs and kept me dry during the evening rains. There is one more place they will let you sleep in out on the rocky point and they may claim there are few mosquitos there but I heard this was not the case after talking to a girl on the bus back to Cartagena who showed me her bites. I did not get bit that night due to the rain but did get eaten hiking back out the next morning.
If you are really cheap or comfortable roughing it you could sleep out on one of the beaches to the west of the place....just make sure you are above the high tide mark.
If you are from the US then this place feels like a YMCA camp site. It has 4-5 enclosed toilets and two showers. I think? the one with the tarp around it may have had warm water....did not try it. There is also a first aid tent that was open when I was there to take care of minor issues. The beach out front of this place gets a bit crowded so I suggest footing it to the west where I found few people at most.
Instead of paying exhorbitant fortunes to stay at the overpriced ecohabs in Canaveral, you could camp for much less in the campgrounds at Arrecife or cabo San Juan. You can pitch your tent there for a small fee or else rent hammocks for the night.
Bring repellent for the night in both campgrounds (especially if you are renting the hammok)and high-protection sunscreen.
Both places are beautiful and each has its pros and cons.
- Arrecife: heavy undertow and swimming is not allowed, but it's only 45 minutes walk from Canaveral, where the car-park is. A good option if you are carrying a heavy backpack. Amazing landscape.
- Cabo San Juan: light undertow and swimming is allowed, but it's 90 minutes walk from Canaveral, where the car-park is. A good option if you are not carrying a lot of stuff. Amazing landscape.
Once you reach the end of the road you will have several camping-grounds to choose from. You may want to try out more than one of them, but if you are travelling on a toght budget, it's good to know that in the Arecifes they give you a small discount if you stay there more than one night. The most popular thing is to rent a hammock (which is actually extreamly comfortable), which will be hung under a palm-leaf roof next to the otehrs. Or if you brought your own tent and like more privacy, you can pay to put up your tent. The hammock costs about 4000 pesos a night and the experience is worth every penny of the money.
The view on the sea at night is great. As are the voices of the jungle that never sleeps. you can also see hundreds of fire-flies flying around, which is really cool. It's not too hot, neither is it too cold. Just perfect...
Picture this, you lieing in a hamock reading a nice book with the afternoon wind bringing in that salty air from the amazing Carribean Sea. Interested? Well, look no more, just head to Parque Tayrona to either the Arecife camp or the Cabo camp. Both are easy to get to, just a few hour walk from the entrance of the park. Cabañas are also available. Oh, they do have a restaurant, but food and drinks are more expensive. It may pay to bring your own supplies if you want to save money.
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