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Enjoy views of the Atlantic Ocean as you stand on the cliffs of the tropical national park in this Colombian department. The large department of Magdalena contains spectacular beaches, a world-renowned national park and a capital city with a rich colonial and indigenous history. The department contains some of the oldest relics of the Spanish colonial era in Colombia and a “lost city” in the midst of a mountainous tropical forest.
The capital city of Santa Marta is known as the Pearl of America and in 1525 became the first city in Colombia to be settled by Spanish colonists. Find a spot for a picnic on one of its sandy bays, such as Blanca Beach and Rodadero Beach . Enjoy the lively evening atmosphere of the Parque de los Novios plaza, which has a bandstand and several restaurants and bars.
Just to the east of the city is the small coastal settlement of Taganga. Work on your tan at Taganga Beach and dine at one of the charming huts overlooking the water. The town is a great base for trips to the adjacent Tayrona National Park .
Hike the maze of trails that traverse the park’s tropical forests. Camp the night at one of the sites with secluded beaches, such as the iconic Cabo San Juan, or enjoy the serenity of the picturesque Concha Bay and Cristal Beach. Spot bats, tiger cats, howler monkeys and eagles among the varied wildlife here.
Embark on the adventurous return journey to the Ciudad Perdida, which covers 28 miles (46 kilometers) of trails and takes 6 days in total. The “lost city” is a fascinating archeological site believed to have been founded many centuries before that of Machu Picchu.
The region has a tropical climate with hot temperatures and high humidity. Expect high rainfall from April through November and clear blue skies from December to March.
In the northeast corner of Colombia, Magdalena is close to the border with Venezuela. Fly to Simón Bolívar International Airport in Venezuela to reach the department from other regions of the country as well as from some international locations. Drive or take a minibus east from Cartagena to reach Magdalena in 4 or 5 hours.
Magdalena is a tropical paradise with a Caribbean flair that alters perceptions of Colombia.