This is one of the most beautiful national parks in the Caribbean, with coastal forests running down to untouched white beaches and a warm sea. Ok, so the travel there is not the 'budget' part, but all of the rest is! Fly to Santa Marta via Bogota, then get a cheap local bus (or taxi, for a bit more) to the main gates of Parque Tayrona at El Zaino. Walk, thumb a lift, or wait for a local bus from the entrance to the sea. Once there, you will need to be prepared to walk for 45 minutes along the most wonderful forest and coastal path, where you can hear howler monkeys, see bright blue morpho butterflies fluttering in the rays of sunlight, maybe even encounter an agouti. As you emerge on the beach at San Juan del Cabo, you will find a simple beach restaurant and some huts with hammocks for a pound a night, and toilet blocks too. You can also hire tents and lockers to lock up your valuables. You can spend days and days here, lying on the beach, snorkelling, hiking into the forest to visit indigenous communities, watching the formation squadrons of pelicans fly past, talking to the fishermen who will cook a delicious fish and potato soup on the beach and perhaps offer you a bowl, and, most importantly, walking along the beach in the morning to the local bakery serving cheese and chocolate bread, which has to be tried to be believed. Stand on the beach with your back to the sea, and you can look up into the Sierra de Santa Marta mountains, and see the snow-topped peaks.
Fly into Santa Marta with Avianca, the Colombian national airline, from Bogota www.avianca.com
Google map: bit.ly/hwnqHm
Catch a bus/taxi from Santa Marta to the Park's main entrance.
Send your feedback or queries to email@example.com