This trail is one of the only two trails available to visitors in the park and takes you to a village via an ancient trail built by the indigenous people. It’s awesome for two reasons: first, it takes you deep into the jungle where you can spot a wide variety of native animals and plants. And second, because the indigenous people paved the original trail with granite–you can do most of the hike barefoot! This is perfect for the rainy season in Tayrona, when ankle-deep mud forms on the trails and it’s easy to lose or destroy your shoes. So if you’re in the park for what’s traditionally considered the “off season”, this is a great way to experience the amazing nature of Tayrona.
I’ve traced out the route from the Arrecifes campsite (the first campsite you encounter in the park). There are essentially two sections, each taking around 1-1.5 hours depending on how fast you move. The first section of the trail is along the coast. Then at Cabo San Juan, you turn inland for the next half of the trail. Note that this rendering of the trail is estimated—we don’t have GPS coordinates.
Here are a few things for you to keep in mind if you hike this trail:
- Either water or water-sterilization method. There are freshwater streams in the second half of the hike where you can refill.
- Snacks and lunch, unless you want to pay top dollar for them at Pueblito
- Sun protection; though much of the trail takes you through jungle, the sun can still get intense
Keep in mind…
- Because it’s a hike in-hike out, it’s best to get started in the morning, before the midday heat
- DEFINITELY do the trail before you go for a dip at the beach. Salt water on your clothes or skin will chafe your skin raw.
- When you encounter indigenous people, either in Pueblito or along the trail, remember to treat them with respect. If you want a picture, please ask, and don’t be surprised or upset if they say no. Tons of people take pictures without their permission, hike their trails, and throw litter on their land. That’s gotta feel pretty bad.
The hike in parts:
Part I: The hike from Arrecifes to Cabo San Juan
We woke up at 6 am to start this hike, and caught the sun peeking through the clouds along Arrecifes.
Though the weather looked good for the day, previous rain guaranteed that this first part of the trail was thick with mud. At some places it came up to almost our knees. We pulled off our shoes and slogged through it, avoiding the mules and horses as they came through with their drivers.
Part II: The hike inland to Pueblito
When we reached Cabo San Juan, we took a break for a bit and snacked. We then took the trail inland from the northwestern corner of the campsite. This part was filled with tons of wildlife. Being me, I mostly took pictures of the insects and spiders:
The trail is also tons of fun to hike because it was paved with granite stones by the indigenous people, creating a path mostly free of mud and vegetation. We did most of this part barefoot, taking care not to step on the leafcutter ants that bite vigorously if disturbed.
After about 1.5 hours on this path, we arrived at Pueblito. The village was nearly empty, with the exception of a few indigenous people and hikers. We were allowed to walk around and take pictures:
Out of respect, we didn’t take any pictures of the indigenous people. They seemed fairly withdrawn and didn’t want to interact, and I can’t blame them. After all, we’re tramping around on their land.
It looks like there were once attempts to modernize the village, either building a dwelling for them or facilities for visitors, but they’ve been abandoned. Now the jungle is reclaiming these crumbling structures:
We stuck around the village for an hour, then had another snack (bread and Nutella and peanut butter) before heading back. On the way out, we spotted some familiar flora. It looks the ground cherry grows wild here:
It took us another hour or so to get back to the beach, where we enjoyed a cool dip in the ocean before heading back to the campsite.