Wednesday, August 26, 2009

El Parque Tayrona

White, blue and green. This is El Parque Tayrona.

White as its sandy beaches. Blue as the waters of the Caribbean Sea that washes its coast. And green as the lush rainforest that from the beaches of the Park climbs up the steep slopes of la Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Luxurious nature is dominant here, and the only thing you have to do here is to enjoy it. And we did.

Not far from the coast, hidden in the tropical jungle on the slopes of the Sierra Nevada, there are the ruins of one of the settlements of the Tayrona people, the pre-Colombian indigenous community who used to live in this region centuries ago: El Pueblito.

El Pueblito, built around 450 BC and abandoned around the year 1600 after the Tayrona were decimated by the Spaniards, is considered to have been one of the Tayrona’s major settlements. Unfortunately not much of the ancient town has remained, apart from some terraces, stone-paths, and house basements. However, the journey to this ‘lost’ city is really worthwhile...

From the beaches of the Park, a trail brings you uphill in the heart of the jungle following one of the ancient routes of the Tayronas. Made of stones, some of which massive, this path is believed to be part of an extensive network of stone-slab trails that were used to link about 300 Tayrona settlements scattered over the Sierra.

The path is indeed scenic, offering some beautiful scenery of the tropical forest, and breathtaking views of the ocean behind you. But, above all...

Walking on this stone-paved road - in the middle of the jungle - towards the ruins of a lost city - that belonged to an ancient civilization - now disappeared, you really have the feeling of being Indiana Jones in "the Raiders of the Lost Ark" (or Laura Croft in "Tomb Raider", it depends). You would in fact cautiously walk carefully looking around expecting at any moment the assault of fierce indigenous protecting their territory and their treasures…

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