A night at the beach in the Colombian Jungle - A trip out of my comfort zone

beach night

One night at the beach

An Adventure in Colombia

A Night at the Beach in the Columbian Jungle

Being free with 18 in Colombia

Being free with 18 in Colombia

Do you know these moments that seem completely unreal as soon as they are over? Some of these moments are silly and full of regret, but some make you come out of your comfort zone and rise stronger and better than before. My night at the beach in the Colombian Jungle was such an experience. The trip to Colombia when I was 18 and still in High School opened up my heart to the form of traveling that is making me so happy now. Colombia was the beginning of my falling in love with adventure.

Broken hearted, I simply had to get out and travel

It was march and my high school final exams were coming up. Everyone around me was going crazy, while I was still in pain with a broken heart of my first love. All I wanted was to get out of my environment, everything reminded me of him. Since I was already 18 years old and had saved up sufficient amount of money, this is exactly what I did. So instead of studying for my final exams, I decided to visit my friend Lisa in Colombia, who was doing social work in its capital Bogotá. But my views on this city are reserved for another post. 

Our Trip to Santa Marta

During my stay, we had planned a trip to the Caribbean coast: Santa Marta. Getting off the plane and landing at the absolute sh*t hole airport we got into a cab to take us to our hostel. The first thing I saw was a few donkeys crossing the highway by themselves. This might seem silly to the more experienced travelers now, but for me, who had never been out of a modern western country this was quite amazing. Santa Marta’s heat was burning our skin when we got out of the cab, being stared at by the locals we disappeared into the hostel. 

Of persistent Colombian Men and Catcalling

Our days in Santa Marta were different… very different from what I had known before. My friend Lisa is very beautiful and has long, blond hair that seemed to convert the Colombian Men into tourists and groupies of women. Taking pictures with her, removing their shirts for her to step on (NOT joking), and catcalling as if there was no tomorrow, men were a consistent part of our days in Santa Marta. Sometimes I felt like a bodyguard, even though I was not really safe from their advances either.

One day we were chilling on the beach when two nice Colombian young guys started talking to us. I did not speak any Spanish then, which is why I was surprised to hear them advance us in English. Finally, someone I could talk to! Lisa was already sniffing their objectives in mind, however, naive as I was, I started chatting about our plans to go to the Tayrona Park (a national park close to Santa Marta) and that we would spend the night there.

Tayrona National Park

Exhausted but happy me in Parque Tayrona

Exhausted but happy me in Parque Tayrona

The next morning we started our trip to the Tayrona National Park. Excited, a little afraid, but curious, we took our first steps in the Colombian Jungle. The camp where we were going to rent a hammock or a tent was a three-hour hike away from the road, and that is quite something if you feel like you are swimming in the air and it is 40 degrees C. 

My first paradise destination

Still, I had never seen a more beautiful place in my entire life, that was as colorful and as free as the Tayrona National Park. On our way to the camp, we encountered cliff views with kilometer long white beaches, natural palm alleys where monkeys would jump from coconut to coconut and turquoise water with absolutely no human in sight. It was my first paradise. After three hours of hiking up the mountains, brushing away huge leaves and fighting off mosquitos we finally arrived at the camp.

No more Hammocks to sleep in

Of course, there was a line up in front of the small shack that rented out the hammock spots that we were going to sleep in for the night (a horrible idea for me anyways at the time). Suddenly Lisa pulled me behind a palm tree. `What?´, I hissed. Carefully Lisa started to point at the end of the line-up. There they were, the persistent Colombian guys that we met a day before. We instantly knew that they had followed us there and decided not to get in line to avoid an awkward conversation. Therefore we went to the beach, snorkeled with fish in every color and enjoyed the life in paradise. As we got back to the shack everything was closed. A girl next to us saw our shock and let us know that all the hammocks and tents were sold out. We would rather spend a night at the beach than share a tent with the dudes. 

The Columbian Jungle at night

Hike to Camp in Parque Tayrona

Hike to Camp in Parque Tayrona

Lisa and I exchanged a meaningful look. It was already 5 pm and it would get dark in about an hour. Hastily we remembered that there was a camp about half an hour away from this one that also had hammocks. We almost jogged to that camp across the narrow jungle trails. It was not at the beach, like the one we chose in the first place. When we got to the camp the light of day was already disappearing and the shack to rent out hammocks was completely shut. The only light that was still burning flickered from a little hut that sold alcohol. Lisa reacted quickly and bought a bottle of Aguardiente (Colombian liquor) in frustration. We could not sleep here without a hammock. Our genius idea was to get drunk on a jungle beach instead. Did we really have another choice? However, the last thing we wanted was to make our way back in the dark through the awakening jungle of Colombia. Well... it was a little late for that. 

When we sprinted through the jungle, monkeys were screaming and bats were brushing our heads flying lowly through the trees. This was the jungle’s time, not ours. We were not supposed to be here unless this was some form of survival test, which I was definitely not ready for. I could not see where my panicky feet hit the floor and slipped down a wet stone. A turn to my left side revealed two blinking eyes. I had no time to think about what kind of animal had just witnessed my fall, we had to get back to the beach camp and sleep the night at the beach.

When Drinking while traveling is not the best idea

On our arrival, we were quite relieved and opened the bottle of Aguardiente. It was not cold yet, but we knew it was going to get chilly. The alcohol was going to keep us warm, so we started drinking. Now that I think of it, getting drunk on a beach in the middle of the jungle was maybe not the best idea. Bats were flying above our heads (no, I had not gotten the rabies shot), and god knows what kind of spiders were creeping up to us in the sand. But in that moment forgetting about all of this seemed to have the highest priority. 

After about an hour the Colombian guys discovered us and offered us to sleep in their tent. Yeah right. No thanks. It took us a solid hour to convince them that we were not interested. Drunk as I was I tried to pee into the ocean with my pants on and fell over. There I was. Wet. Cold. Drunk. We did not even have a blanket. For some reason, at some point, I even fell asleep until a bright light ripped me out of a weird dream. Wait. This was not the dream. This was real. A military official with a machine gun was pointing his flashlight at us and snapping at us in loud Spanish. Lisa got up and started talking to him. I had no idea what was going on. I only saw his almost angry look and his machine gun. 

In the end, Lisa had talked to the guy and he had changed his attitude. Instead of telling us we were not supposed to sleep there, he had apparently decided to protect us. This did not really calm my nerves, though. 

It was an adventure in the end

Sunrise after we had made it through the night at the beach

Sunrise after we had made it through the night at the beach

In the morning I was relieved to watch a beautiful sunrise. We ate the sweet croissants in the sand while the red lighting tinted the green wall of trees behind us. We had made it through the night. No spiders, no bites, no sexual advances. Lisa and I started laughing heavily for about five minutes and prepared for a day at the beach and a hike back up to the road. 

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The Female Travel Collective is a team of four feminist travelers coming together from different parts of the world to share with you what we have learned from traveling, living, loving, and exploring all over the world. Join us and tell your story about female solo travel, relationships, mental health, city guides, or whatever else comes to your mind.

Author of this text is Larissa, founder of the Female Travel Collective, solo travel lover and convinced feminist!

Author of this text is Larissa, founder of the Female Travel Collective, solo travel lover and convinced feminist!