Giorgy and the hammock’s lifestyle: the beginning of a great love story

One arrives in Cartagena and expects to find beaches surrounded by Caribbean waters that everyone bangs on about Colombia… well, after a few days in Cartagena, it was time to leave this little town behind and go to discover the wild and undiscovered nature of this magnificent nation. We headed to Tayrona National Park, a magical place where you can relax and breathe in nature, from the fine sandy beaches to the crystal clear waters that would make you the envy of the most beautiful postcards.

Right after our last breakfast in Cartagena, backpacks on our shoulders and we made our way to El Zaino, where we would spend just one night in transit right outside the park.

Fun fact about El Zaino Hostel? In Italian Backpack is ZAINO. Yes guys and the hostel, on the edge of Tayrona Park, was named just that. Perfect El Zaino location to leaving our huge ZAINI behind (okay, that was a bad joke, apologies to the editor for that chilling out).

Getting at the hostel took practically the whole day, just enough time to change our equipment for the new adventure and chilling a bit by the pool before dinner time. A special evening crowned by a 3-course dinner as a celebration of the adventure we started together and the friendship, the one with Andrea and Francise, we’ve been building up since the magical adventure in Central America.  

The next morning, after checking out and leaving the huge ZAINI at El Zaino (Note from the editor to the editor: Sam stop please! It’s not funny.), it was finally time to go towards Tayrona National Park. 

One thing I’ve learned during all these years of traveling is that there are two types of people you can meet around the world: people who are kind and helpful and people who are dishonest and will do anything to rip you off. In this case, we got to meet some of the latter category. In fact, just before entering the park, several street vendors tried to sell us park entrance tickets at higher prices than the official ones. Sometimes my stubbornness pays off, as in this case. I insisted that I didn’t want to buy their tickets and made our way to the official entrance and inquire about the entrance fees at the main cashier’s desk… luckily, for once, my gut was right: the tickets they wanted to sell us were in fact fictitious and would not even allow us to enter the park. (Pro tip from those who have already been ripped off: be careful what people try to sell you!).

We jumped ot of the bus right after knowing the price we had to pay
… walking nearly one hour in the clammy heat.

Nevertheless, it didn’t take long before we made another stupid choice… Shortly after taking this picture, our low budget made us decide to get off as soon as we found out that the bus to get to the second entrance has to being paid and not included in the entrance fee. Eh no c’mon, why not walk…for an hour… in the clammy heat. Yeah… not very smart.

Moral of the story: don’t do what we stupidly did and bypasses the shuttle. The main gate of the park and the real entrance are in fact over an hour’s walk away during which every person who passes by will try to rip you off in some way by offering rides at disproportionate cost … Now exhausted and sweated we have at least reached the REAL starting point of the park, finally, from which our walk went on for another hour and a half lost in the jungle. Although the park is welll known of being home for a great fauna species (including jaguars, ocelots, tigers and pumas), we only encountered a few monkeys. 

Hello little monkey!

From the starting point of the 3.4 km jungle trail to Arrecifes Beach, you have two options: either walk, as we did, or ride it. Arrecifes is the first of the park’s stops and typically this is where visitors stop to camp the first night. In fact, there are a multitude of campgrounds and small facilities here to stay overnight.

Despite the fact, Arrecifes beach is very beautiful but it is known for not being safe to swim there (Editor’s note: G did not specify why it is not safe to swim, I have some hypothesis that I share with you so you can tell me what you think. It could be dangers like sharks, jellyfish or currents, but I’m convinced that in this park there must be the Kraken. G we need details! Is it Nessy who moved from Lochness to Colombia? Uuuh please tell us).

Instead of spending the night comfortably in bed within the walls of a hotel, we opted to sleep in a hammock surrounded by nature.

One of the most beautiful part of this experience? No internet connection at all

There is beauty when there is no service. Live every moment of those adventures and let mother nature shows you her world.

Our accommodation in the park

Once we settled our stuff at the Camping Don Pedro, we decided to walk to La Piscina Beach – a 20 minutes walk from the campgroung, where we could finally relax and just laied back with our feet in the sand. Unlike Arrecifes beach, here you can safely swim and snorkeling with sharks, fishes and turtles. (Note from the editor: okay guys, apparentely sharks are not the problem, so the Kraken hypothesis is still open).

Luck was not on our side this time, the water was quite rough, and endind up being a see lion on the beach was the only option for us. Before heading back to the campsite we wandered around checking the naturalness of this wonderful place: A-MA-ZING!

Finally it was time for dinner, not before a nice refreshing shower. In the middle of the jungle there is neither internet nor some of the comforts we are used to. In fact, shower and dinner could be described as “the old-school boycott way”: coldy water from the source and cooking our stuff right on a bonfire. Creating our own campfire and then eating in the darkness was an incredible experience! Just us, nature and a lot of hungry mosquitoes… remember the repellent if you don’t want to be the dinner instead!

After dinner it was time for experience the thrill of sleeping in the hammock. Talking to other travelers some shared their skepticism about spending the night in an outdoor hammock, others thought it was not comfy, the more extreme that it was even crazy.

Determined to challenge all these common misconceptions, my friends and I decided to sleep hanging in the jungle, and you know what? I’m glad we did!

With no walls to surround us, spending the night on these ‘swinging couches’ made us feel even closer to Mother Nature. We couldn’t help but be amazed how the jungle comes alive at night, the animals hunt, move, play in a squawking chorus of monkeys.

To be truthful sleeping in a hammock is extremely comfortable! So, if you’d ask me if I will do it again my answer is going to be ABSOLUTELY YES!

(Editor’s Note: I wish all of you reader will have the experience in your life of seeing Giorgy sleep… You should know that “comfortable” for G could mean a multitude of things: curled up or  rolled up in the duvet, in baby yoga position and you name it. If you’re wondering whether she sleeps, she is! Please don’t be surprised if reading the various blogs by finding G sleeping comfortably practically EVERYWHERE 😉 ).

Yeah Giorgy, come back down to earth and continue with the story. We slept little but I rested well and happy with the experience (at: I was happy, I can’t tell whether my friends shared my enthusiasm).

Leaving the campsite we stopped by a culinary delight in the park having panaderia breakfast: freshly baked hot bread with melted chocolate, a real treat! The curious thing about this bakery was the number of postcards and posters of Switzerland hanging everywhere… yet the owners didn’t look Swiss at all! After all neither I do, so how can I judge… ah no, maybe, okay, enough, let’s move on.

GNUM… GNUM… GNUM…

After a walk of about an hour through the jungle, we reached El Cabo San Juan beach, an amazing site! Some other travelers along with us beached ourselves soaking up the sun while some kids played soccer in front of the tents while waiting Francise to get her hammock spot for the night.

El Cabo San Juan is a beach surrounded by large rocks, simply gorgeous. Around lunchtime we moved to Playa Brava to find a less crowded and quieter place to relax. From here we could walk to Pueblito, about a 2.5km hike, which is a former Tairona settlement currently occupied by a small group of indigenous Colombians.

Due to lack of respect from humanity, such as not taking care of places and people and leaving trash everywhere, the place was closed to the public. Since the walk was now out of the question, we opted to relax on the beach until we came up with yet another silly idea.

We’re definitely not going to become influencers for our photographic qualities… we might have failed to achieve an Instagram-worthy snap (you might say) but attempting the shoot with these two was a blast and now I’m even throwing in a slogan: our jump shots are terrible, but our friendship is incredible. (That’s even worse than the IG wothy snap… neext).

Before getting too dark, Andrea and I made out way back to the campsite. On the way, I saw from far a girl I had just met in Nicaragua. Waving to her from afar, her friend responded with a “Hey Beauty”.
“Dude, I was greeting her not at you!” was my straight answer accompanied by all the elegance that characterized me.

It took her a moment to recognize me, and the first thing she asked was, “How’s your leg?”. Thinking about it still amazes me how by chance you can re-meet someone on the other side of the world, someone you met just a few weeks before and apparently had the same itinerary as me. Well it happened, and it felt good.

It was now night (or it was just pitch dark and was only 8pm) and we went to sleep relatively early, without even taking a shower, I’ve gotten too wild being into the jungle hehe. Speaking of wildness, we got an experience: that was one of the longest and strangest nights ever, accompanied by the howling, high-pitched songs of the barking monkeys. It felt like you were among them, like any minute they were going to come for you.

I leave it to you to imagine myself hanging in a hammock in the middle of the night with an urgent pee but with this not very reassuring song and the fear of being eaten alive as soon as you put your foot on the ground, like in video games. I just gave up on it, the fear was too much. Andrea, in the same situation but braver than me, decided to try but not even time to put a foot on the ground that the dog of the campsite began to turn around holding her under our hut. Sign of fate perhaps? We’ll never know, we only know that we didn’t get much sleep that night and as soon as the sun came up we both ran to the bathroom.

The next morning, Francise joined us smiling by showing up with breakfast from the other day’s Panaderia – a relief after the night we’d just had.

That day continued slowly as we moved back to the El Zaino Hostel to pick up our ZAINI (G finds the joke amazing lol)… leaving behind this little piece of paradise called Tayrona National Park.

I’k so stoked about how beautiful this place is. Tayrona National Park is a bit like being in Jurassic Park with the guarantee of not being eaten by Velociraptors… maybe bz an ape yes!

At the beginning of my travel adventure, the idea of getting lost scared me. In fact, when you travel and explore unknown places, the possibility of getting lost is quite high. As time and experiences went by, the idea of getting lost thrills me, and I now appreciate every day the beauty of not knowing what to expect. Tayrona Park is definitely a fascinating place to get lost literally wandering around in a jungle of magnificent unanticipated sceneries and glorious wildlife: a paradise to be explored. Who would have ever thought that getting lost could be so beautiful?

I left the park with a big cheek-to-cheek smile and a feeling that was growing in me, all the way down to my bones, a feeling of freedom, as if my body was telling me to let go and see where this new adventure surrounded by the beauty of mother nature was taking me.

And that sometimes unplugging, disconnencting from our surroundings is the best medicine.