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and Tayrona are two of Colombia's most popular destinations, especially for backpackers. Both provide the average adventure-seeker with plenty to enjoy: sun, sand, diving, relaxation and, in Taganga's case, some incredible parties.
Here we're bringing you what would be our pretty much ideal journey to Taganga and Tayrona. Four days you'll always remember. And a couple of nights you almost definitely won't.
We're going to start in Taganga. The best options for accommodation
are Masía, Hotel Divanga and la Casa de Felipe. Divanga and Masía are new, fully-equipped hostel with a pool and, best of all, you can actually get a bit of peace and quiet. This will be important to you when you realise the clubs close at 1.30 and after that everyone else wants to party until morning.
La Casa de Felipe is a guest house on the beach that's a long-running favourite in Taganga. The food offered is delicious (the filet mignon steaks is a surreal experience after the Lost City Trek
!) and it's a great place to relax.
First thing you should do in Taganga is check out the diving
. The area offers great options for divers, with a rich selection of underwater wildlife. Best of all, it's all offered at reasonable prices (especially for beginners), so be sure to take advantage of this as soon as possible.
Once you've had a dive, you'll probably be approaching the time for food, so get yourself all dolled up and head into nearby Santa Marta
for some delicious pizza courtesy of Ouzo
. Once you've finished here, head to one of the bars on the square for a few drinks in the cool breeze before grabbing a taxi back to Taganga.
Head to a tienda on the waterfront and enjoy some beers on the beach before going to one of the two main clubs in the town: Mirador or Sensations. As mentioned, these shut at 1.30am, so be warned. After this, parties usually continue to the early hours in one of the nearby hostels...
Hungover, you're probably not going to wake up until the mid-morning/early afternoon. If you fancy it, do a spot of diving again. If not, walk over to Playa Blanca, which is a beach you'll find if you climb over the hills that surround Taganga.
Here you'll find enough fish restaurants and fruit juice vendors to last a lifetime, and you can work off that hangover supping on some delicious juices as you chill on the beach. Lovely.
I'd pretty much do this until it's approaching sunset, when a nice little plan is to head back into Taganga's main square, grab a beer and watch the spectacular Caribbean sunset. After this, grab a bite to eat from one of the nearby restaurants (or Casa de Felipe) before starting your night all over again.
WAKE UP EARLY! This is essential as you want to get to Tayrona as soon as possible. Try to hide alcohol in your bag since it's expensive on the inside, and then grab a taxi ($50,000) to Tayrona. To get in you can either walk or take a donkey. It's not recommended to walk if it's been raining recently.
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Tayrona National Park - the beach
Entry to Tayrona National Park
costs around $35,000, which can seem expensive but don't be put off, it's well worth it. You'll then need to sort out accommodation, which is basic but all you need. Hammocks cost around $15,000 in Arrecifes, or you can camp for $15,000 per person.
If you stay in Arrecifes, spend your first day relaxing at La Piscinita, maybe wandering over to its big sister La Piscina if you fancy it. At night, head to the restaurant near the camp site and enjoy some delicious, fresh food (a little expensive, but worth it).
You should try and leave the park as late as possible, or the next day. Wake early and take the hike to El Cabo. It's a stunning beach where you'll find the majority of backpackers (note, if you decide to stay here, do this itinerary backwards).
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The view from a Tayrona hike
El Cabo is also the entrance to the El Pueblito hike. If you're unsure of where to head to find El Pueblito, you can ask locals. El Pueblito is a short-ish hike away that's pretty unchallenging. At the end you'll see a small indigenous archaeological site, which is a nice reminder of the region's history. The real reward are some of the views on the hike, so be sure to take a camera.
After your hike you can relax at El Cabo or go and explore some other beaches (including a nudist beach nearby). You'll find an abundance of great photo opportunities, as well as juice sellers and snorkeling opportunities. All in all, you're free to do whatever you want in this tropical paradise. Just soak it up, enjoy it, and forget about life back in the city.