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In the department of Magdalena, just 34 km from the lovely city of Santa Marta, lies the Tayrona National Park – a sanctuary of nature and archaeological remains that invite an encounter with oneself. Mangrove swamps, corals, algae prairies, thorny scrubland, and magical dry, humid, and cloud forests proliferate and are home to a surprising variety of vegetal and animal species that bear witness to life.
These 12,000 land and 3,000 marine hectares were proclaimed in 1969 for their great biological and archaeological value. Prior to the Spanish Conquest, this was the land of the Tayrona indigenous people, who left significant evidence of their way of life in Pueblito Chairama and other sites. 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.
Flora and fauna observation are especially interesting here, especially birdwatching, which includes the threatened Andean condor. Aside from its natural and archaeological attractions, Tayrona Natural Park is a great site for eco-tourism, thanks to the diversity of its sea waves and diving sites. The Chairama archaeological site known as Pueblito and the stone paths that lead to it are very attractive to tourists.
Once in Santa Marta, the only access is by taking the Troncal del Caribe in the direction of Riohacha. There are several entrances to the park: Neguanje, Calabazo, and Cañaveral.
Most of the park’s inhabitants are mestizos who live mainly from tourism and fishing. The park comprises various sacred sites, or dots along the so-called “Black Line”, belonging to the indigenous communities that inhabit the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range.
The Tayrona Natural Park is home to over 100 mammal species, among them howling monkeys, pumas, deer, and several species of bats. Over 300 bird species coexist with them, condors and lone and white eagles, being the main ones.
The park is also home to 31 reptile, 15 amphibian, 202 sponge, 471 crustacean, and more than 1,000 more marine species. Dolphins and marine turtles are frequent visitors; the latter for the purpose of spawning.
There are 350 algae species in the park, representing only part of the area’s total vegetation, which is considered the richest in the Colombia Caribbean by virtue of its 31 types of plants. As to terrestrial fauna, there are over 770 plant species, ranging from cacti to trees that may reach a height of 30 meters.