Tayrona National Natural Park, Magdalena, Colombia
GPS: 11.307153885627, -74.065041545489
Founded in 1964 in northern Colombia, the Tayrona National Natural Park is a vast exotic reserve stretching along the Caribbean Sea at the foot of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range. This protected area includes a land part of 150 km² around the city of Santa Marta (450,000 inhabitants) as well as a sea area of about 30 km². Its white sandy beaches are bordered by mangroves or forests that are washed by the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean Sea.
The Tayrona National Natural Park has about 30 kilometres of paradisiacal coastline. A layer of eternal snow covers the high peaks of this coastal massif, considered the highest coastal mountain in the world (5,775 metres above sea level). This unique location gives Tayrona a majestic setting where pristine beaches and tropical forests stretch out at the foot of snow-capped mountains. The great diversity of ecosystems in this natural area is reflected in the richness of its fauna (108 species of mammals, 300 types of birds, several hundred types of molluscs or crustaceans, etc.) and its flora (alternating vegetation in tropical, coastal and mountain environments, including many endemic species).
This Colombian destination was the home of the ancient Tayrona tribes until the arrival of the first Spanish settlers in the 16th century. The archaeological site of Ciudad Perdida, totally secluded in the tropical jungle, is the embodiment of the importance of the heritage remains of the Tayrona National Natural Park. It was rediscovered by chance in the 1970s after 400 years of oblivion, although its existence was already known to the local communities. Alerted to the sale of ancient gold objects on the black market, the Colombian government only learned of the discovery of Ciudad Perdida three years later. According to specialists, this site near the Buritaca River was built several centuries before the legendary city of Machu Picchu (the two sites may even have been rivals). The remains consist of stairways, paved roads, terraces, platforms, ceremonial centres and stone buildings. Rich in marine and terrestrial biodiversity, the Tayrona National Natural Park is considered one of the most beautiful ecological destinations in South America. The humidity of its forest can reach up to 99%.