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To the East Beyond Tayrona

Palomino, Colombia – At first glance I took the guy walking down the street to be Israeli and asked him where he was sleeping. If what I’ve observed holds true he’ll know the best place to sleep in town. Israeli’s bargain hard for the best price and once they set that price they tell all [...]

Palomino, Colombia –

At first glance I took the guy walking down the street to be Israeli and asked him where he was sleeping. If what I’ve observed holds true he’ll know the best place to sleep in town. Israeli’s bargain hard for the best price and once they set that price they tell all their friends about in order to establish a special Israeli price. Say what you want about Israeli travelers being obnoxious or loud or argumentative but they have a knack for getting the best bargains in town.

He turned out to actually be Spanish but he took me to where he was staying anyway. The place turned out to be exactly what I was looking for; a campground on the beach that rents out hammocks for 8,000 pesos ($4.00) a night. A Hilton this place is not. My space consisted of a hammock with a mosquito night under a thatched roof with four others. No electricity or running water. My shower was a bucket of well water behind a bamboo wall. The kitchen, an open fire. My view, a beach with no one on it.

Palomino Beach

This was Palomino and this was why I was here. It was first stop on my trip to northeastern Colombia. For most, northeastern Colombia ends with Tayrona National Park to enjoy some beaches. The park usually satiates travelers desires for the Caribbean and is close enough to other destinations that none seem to find venturing further east worth the trouble or hassle. The normal route is a trip to Cartagena followed by Taganga and lastly followed up by a trip to Tayrona National Park. From here most begin venturing south or will do this trip in reverse and move into Panama by sail boat passing through the San Blas Islands.

After Cartagena and a party hostel in Medellin I was ready for some solitude and another place on the backpacker trail was not for me. For me it was time to get off the normal route of travel and I was in a good place to do it. If any traveler takes the bus from Santa Marta to Tayrona they can stay on that bus for another hour to Palomino. The same sea lapping up against the same sand but without the 34,000 peso ($17.00) entrance fee and without the other travelers. There’s a beach and palm trees and not much more. During this time of year most of the places along the beach are uninhabited campgrounds or ‘ecolodges’ still under construction.

Making chocolate. Cracking the dried, roasted shells on the bottom left to expose the coco beans in the white plate above.

That’s why where I was staying was so perfect. A inhabited campground without the word ‘eco’ involved to mark up the price. Like the word ‘organic’ or ‘green’ the word ‘eco’ in travel tells me that a place will charge me more than the standard price but give me less in return (like in El Salvador).

Once I arrived life slowed down. A Colombian hippie was roasting cacao beans over an open flame to nothing but the sound of waves lapping against the beach.

“What are the beans for?” I asked.

“I’m making chocolate to sell to stores and hostels I bought the cacao pods from some Indians nearby. I have coffee too.”

Thus the days entertainment was provided as I learned how to roast and make pure chocolate straight from the pod. As day turned to darkness there wasn’t much left to do than stare at the fire as thoughts passed in and out of my head.

And this is Palomino. A hippie hostel and a few stores that line the road that passes through town. After that it’s a fifteen minute walk down to the beach. Other than sitting or going for a run on the beach there isn’t much else for me to do other than cook dinner or eat fresh pineapple and coconuts. Life has slowed down.

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Filed under: Colombia, Cubicle Ditcher

About the Author:

Sam Langley left a comfortable and profitable job with an insurance company in the USA to travel the world. He has been going for years, and has not stopped yet. Keep up with his travels on his blog at Cubicle Ditcher. has written 147 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.