Located at the base of the Sierra Nevada in the Caribbean is Santa Marta. Founded in 1525 by the Spaniards it is the oldest Spanish city in Colombia and home to the Tairona indigenes for more than 2000 years. It also has many beautiful beaches such as Playa Blanca and Bahia Concha, and is the best place to start a trip to Taganga, Tayrona Park and The Lost City.
When the Spaniards arrived the indigenes had already established advanced communities 1500 years previous, making stone paths to facilitate the exchange of food and products made of gold, stone and clay with other communities in the region. The inhabitants took advantage of the variety of food and resources offered by nature and lived in the mountains close to the sea. They had gardens to grow vegetables such as tomatoes and corn, and fruits such as avocado, guanabana, pineapple and guava. Due to their close proximately to the ocean they obtained a large variety of seafood as well.
The indigenous children learned the stories and legends from their elders at the same time as they were taught how to create the fabrics to make their clothes and mochilas. Children and adults admired the warriors who successfully protected the indigenous people from the Spanish conquerors.
The capital for this zone at this time was Teyuna, also known as The Lost City. Its construction began in the 7th century, which was 650 years before that of Machu Picchu in Peru. Within Teyuna lived approximately 1,800 people in more than 300 neighborhoods. The city was abandoned in the year 1650 and was discovered in 1973 by 3 brothers. Later to be opened to tourists in the year 2005.
Other important places in this area are Tayrona Park which at 150 km 22 contains jungles, wild animals and magnificent beaches such as Cabo San Juan Tayrona, 7 Waves, Neguanje, Bahía Concha and Playa Cristal; and Taganga, a small fishing town about 20 minutes from Santa Marta with Playa Granate and Playa Grande where you can enjoy water sports such as snorkeling, diving, kayaking and fishing.
In conclusion The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is a place full of history that began more than 2000 years ago with communities that still live with the same culture of the ancestors. It is an area with many beautiful beaches and jungles that it is possible to take a short tour through the nature in a chiva, relax on a beach or trek for 4-6 days to The Lost City. This zone should be on the list of all those who want to visit Colombia.
Other places not to miss while in The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta:
- Palomino: Less than a 2-hour trip up the coast you can find the small town of Palomino. With amazing beaches for relaxation, a mountainous jungle that starts from the edge of the ocean and a river which is perfect for tubing; it’s easy to see why this town has a growing reputation of being a must stop on every travellers list