“That was fun,” I said to Sophie approximately three seconds before my forehead collided with a wooden beam, then another and then a third – just to ensure that my glasses fell off and that I had a headache for the next couple of hours.
I suppose Juan, my up to this point faithful steed, figured his work was over. Having carried a sixteen stone lump along a steep, muddy trail for an hour, it was time to sniff out some hay.
Eventually my Colombian guide grabbed the freewheeling stallion’s reins and I was able to make a particularly unelegant dismount.
We had decided to ‘treat’ ourselves to a horse ride back to the entrance of Tayrona National Park after getting our Havaianas repeatedly stuck in the mud on our outward journey.
Still, the sweaty frustration of that ramble through the woods was forgotten when we arrived at the picturesque Caribbean beach of Arrecifes. Glacial-coloured waters rolled over a beach full of eye-catching, orange-dappled boulders set against a lush mountainous backdrop.
The only downside was that a strong undercurrent, which had reportedly taken over a hundred lives, prevented swimming here.
Fortunately, a short walk through more jungle brought us to the swimming-friendly beach of Cabo de San Juan and we spent a night in hammocks being eaten by mosquitos (amazingly, the bloodsuckers were just about able to squeeze through the foot-sized hole in my mosquito net).
The next day we set off early on a hike to find the archeological remains of a once thriving native Indian community deep in the jungle.
It was a tough trek in the heat and humidity and as we climbed higher, sun protection from the forest canopy diminished. By the time we reached the destination of Pueblito, the sweat was pouring off.
As we wandered around what remains of the stone terracing where crops were once grown, we were able to get a feel for the simplistic but hard life the inhabitants had here between 450AD and 1600AD – before the Spanish conquistadors arrived.
Wanting to get back down to the beach before nightfall, we began our descent and after our five-hour trek a soothing dip in the cool azure waters was very welcome…
… Sadly that’s where my memories of Park Tayrona finish due to mild concussion. Gracias Juan.