We had a full day at Tayrona National Park. There were two main options of things to do. If you fancied walking uphill for an hour and a half, there was an archaeological site of an ancient city. However it was far too hot and although it looked quite nice from the photos, I’ve been fortunate to have seen better ruins on this trip. Instead I settled on a bit of beach time, which I suppose is a must when you’re in the Caribbean.

Of the numerous beaches along the coast within the park, there are only a few that are swimmable due to the dangerous currents. Even the beaches where you can swim have quite rough seas, in which you probably wouldn’t want to go too far out of your depth. As there’d been quite a lot of recent rainfall the water wasn’t very clear and contained quite a bit of residue such as leaves and bits of trees. The beaches probably look nicer in photos than in person with the tremendous ocean setting against the forest and hilly backdrop. With the park entrance fee and a 3-mile walk to the beach, the area wasn’t chic-a-block with sun loungers and hawkers, retaining a somewhat unspoiled feel.

After a couple of hours on the beach I’d had enough. The hammock was one of the few shaded areas around so I retired there to do some reading. Despite wearing suncream I could feel myself burning on the beach, a side effect from the malaria preventative mediation, doxycycline. I don’t know the relative risk of contracting malaria around here but I managed to pick up more mosquito bites in Tayrona than anywhere else so far. After about 100 bites I stopped counting. This figure was about average for the group. Mosquitoes seemed to love Emma, the driver. When the swelling went down, she counted 52 bites on her left knee alone. Another bite-victim had purchased some over-the-counter medication to treat their ailment. It was an antihistamine/steroid combination of loratadine and dexamethasone. Such liberal OTC preparations would probably horrify some of my pharmacy friends from my previous job!

The more I discovered about the native wildlife, the less I enjoyed Tayrona. Apparently during yesterday’s park introduction we were warned in Spanish about flesh-eating frogs that reside here. I didn’t see any of such creatures but if I’d heard the warning I may have made alternative arrangements for the past couple of days. I quickly became accustomed to seeing loads of huge ants, beetles and lizards all around. They’ll all just about fine. Someone got what can only b described as pooed on by a bat while asleep in their hammock last night which is pushing the boundaries of decency. My bathroom usage reduced dramatically today after Nico from Argentina spotted a snake behind the toilet door. It was probably poisonous according to him! Seeing a huge spider in an unused hammock made me thoroughly inspect my hammock before getting in it tonight. This was worthwhile as a lizard was inside my supposedly sealed mozzie net. I’m not proud to say that I let out something resembling a squeal, waking up a fair amount of nearby sleepers. The bugger ran off somewhere in the knotting, leaving me to find another, hopefully more secure, hammock.

Tayrona National Park
The beach
View from the water
A substantial spider in the hammock
A lizard in my bed