Tourism in Colombia has grown 300% since 2002, with a huge number of visitors coming from the UK. Impressive right? Although no surprise to those of us who have already visited!!
In the past it was up to you to put your own itinerary together and find your own way around, today there are group tours and organised trips and more and more travel operators. At Latin Adventures I will be promoting Eco Tours & sustainable travel to Colombia A LOT, I believe that this is THE place to travel in South America at the moment. This amazing country is still largely undiscovered and still so off the beaten track that it has not lost its charm – which is what many of us still find so appealing about it.
Colombia is my second favourite country on the Latin continent (Argentina still holds the number one position). For this blog I’ve divided the Colombian Caribbena into two parts; in this post I’m going to cover just Taganga & Tyrona National Park, then, in Part II – San Andres & Cartegena.
Taganga, Santa Marta
I arrived by land from Venezuela in a very precarious yet colourful bus. I had already visited Taganga some months before and had fallen in love with the idea of becoming a scuba diver…
Taganga is a small fishing village five hours (by land) from Cartegena and 588 miles from Bogota.
Is a great (inexpensive) place to get your PADI or NAUI diving certificate. I went from Open Diver to Dive Master in the eight months I spent there and the cost was minimal.
The beach itself isn’t that amazing but the fresh fish and diving certainly make up for it; wall dives, wreck dives and cave dives not to mention Taganga being located just on the edge of Tyrona National Park so amazing Coral reefs and marine life to see. There are several dive schools in Taganga to suit different budgets.
Tyrona National Park
Situated just one hour from Taganga – Tyrona National Park is a paradise; you can hook your hammock up between two coconut trees on the beach and spend a few days totally relaxing or stay in one of the Eco lodges.
Tyrona, (as many of the National Parks) has not been affected by the influx of tourists to Colombia, partly because tourists have to make their way in on foot – that’s enough to deter a lot of people, which means you’ll often have the beaches to yourself. The park is a car-free zone – supplies are delivered to the campgrounds and restaurant by donkey or horseback.
There is a big focus on conservation in the Park, especially with the Marine turtles, local volunteers aim to protect their eggs from poachers during nesting time. There is also work with the local communities to keep the beaches litter free for the turtles.
Based in Taganga is a local sustainable, grant-funded conservation effort that works towards restoring the surround corals – Fundación Calypso. It’s run by a marine biologist friend of mine and a local team of divers. At Latin Adventures we will be promoting their “Coral Gardening Programmes” to divers in the UK so that they too can get involved with the restoration of the beautiful coral reefs in the Colombian Caribbean. I did a lot of work with them in 2013, but will be revamping the programme and advertising for the 2015 season…I can’t wait!!!
On your way to Tayrona Park, you pass the beautiful Hacienda Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino, which is over 400 years old and is where the great Simon Bolivar spent his final days.
Temperatures range from 25˚C to 32˚C, and altitudes, from zero to nine meters above sea level. There are two rainy periods: from May to June and from September to November.