When the Spanish first came across the people known as Tayrona, these people represented a culture already a thousand years old, that numbered at a quarter of a million people in around 250 different settlements; a good chunk of them living in what is now the Tayrona National Natural Park. A striking reminder of this can be found at the place now called El Pueblito, which was once home to 3000 Tayrona, comfortably perched on 250 terraced platforms. A thriving and sophisticated town, it was an impressive feat of architecture, including foundations (still present to this day), stone paths, stairs, drainage canals and bridges. These people were also canny farmers, extensive traders, and artisans of the most exquisite gold pieces going around.
After a violent first contact with would-be enslavers, the descendants of these people lived in rare peace for around 70 years with the new, “Younger Brothers,” before conflict drove many of them higher up the mountains. Today, the Kogi live their lives deliberately apart from the younger usurpers, fiercely preserving their ways of life and knowledge, so as to protect their mountains, the Heart of the World. Other inhabitants, the colono farmers, also rely on agriculture to continue their own ways of life amongst Tayrona National Park’s awe-inspiringly beautiful jungle environment. Carefully limited accommodations in the park allow space for new visitors to relax and enjoy what has been the gorgeous home of people for millennia. Traces of this rich history still lay over the mountains and coasts in an ethereal blanket wrapping this stunning playground in its near-imperceptible folds.