a VirtualTourist member from Toronto asked on Feb 28, 2009
Can anyone recommend the best way to go from Cartagena to Tayrona (El Zaino gate). We were quoted over 400.000 for a private car (each way) so we are looking for better options. Ideally we would leave Cartagena first thing in the AM and same coming back.
Advice to contact Mira, her VT name here: mircaskirca. And/or have a look at her pages. She just came back from Colombia and travelled the same route you plan to take.
Although I travel frequently to Colombia, I haven't been in that area since 15 years or so.
You can get it there for very cheap, no need to pay 400.000 COP. But the whole trip in only one day?? I would not recommend this. I guess you don't want to spend most of the time in the bus. As for the beaches, Parque Tayrona is certainly one of the most beautiful places in Colombia (and there are many!!). I advice you to visit all of them, it's a nice path all the way long - through the jungle or along the sea. There are two camping places in the park and you can stay in a room as well. But the prices are at least double if not three times higher than outside the park. As I only stayed one whole day, I stayed in a nice pousada Carmen in front of the park and it was only 40.000 COP for two. So we visited very early in the morning (the park opens at 08:am but we somehow arrange with the guy at the entrance a previous night and he let us in at 06.00am) We spent the whole day exploring the park and then returned late in the afternoon. Stayed one more night in Carmen and then in the morning we left.
I don't know if there are direct buses from Cartagena to Parque Tayrona. But there are frequent buses from Santa Marta and they stop at the entrance of the park. The price for the bus (one way) is about 5.000 COP. At the entrance they will ask for your passport - so don't forget to take it with you. The entrance to the park is 30.000 COP for foreigners and 11.000 for Colombians (January 2009).
Have fun!! Hope you are going to enjoy Parque Tayrona as much as I did.
I think you mean that you are spending one night in Tayrona to return early to Cartagena the next morning. But as Mira says you will spend a lot of time on the bus and you will probably want more time in Tayrona once you get there.
From Cartagena the bus to Santa Marta takes 4 hours and in August 2008 the ticket was 20 000 pesos. The bus station in Cartagena is quite far outside the city so you will need some time to go there as well (bus or taxi).
From Santa Marta the bus takes a little bit more than an hour to the entrance of the National Park. I took the bus from the market place in Santa Marta, but if you arrive at the bus station from Cartagena it would be more convenient to take a bus from the station heading for one of the cities in the east. When I think of it you can probably find a bus in Cartagena going to Riohacha or Maicao and then you will not need to change in Santa Marta.
After you have paid the fee for the national park you can take a jeep the last 4 - 5 km to where the tracks begin in Cañaveral. They leave when the are full and cost 2000pesos (August 2008).
From Cañaveral it is a 40 minutes walk to Arrecifes. Here you can sleep in a hammock or a cabin, but you can’t swim as the currents are to strong. From Arrecifes you can walk on another 35 minutes to Cabo San Juan. In Cabo San Juan you can sleep in a hammock or a tent and here the swimming is excellent. I stayed in Cabo San Juan, and I was absolutely one of the oldest persons there.
So sorry, but I made a little mistake. About the posada in front of the entrance to the Parque Tayrona... its name is Anita (tel. 317 750 5481 or 311 437 7629) and not Carmen. I confused it with the name of the restaurant in Riohacha.
This makes sense, Malena is right. You can take the bus that goes from Cartagena to Riohacha and get off at the entrance to the Parque Tayrona. I did something similar on the way back. I took a bus from Tayrona to Baranquilla, and the bus was coming from Riohacha.