Natural riverside beautyBoutique eco hotel close to Tayrona National Park
Destination: Santa Marta, Colombia
Vacation: Riverside boutique hotel
Seeking: Luxury eco-adventure
Highlight: In the middle of nature
Senda Watapuy’s expansive lobby with its beautiful turquoise tiles and open-air deck was a very welcome sight. After spending two days hiking the remote beaches and jungle of Tayrona National Park, we were ready to relax. As our bags were whisked away, we were shown the sparkling infinity pool just beyond, to the sound of evening cocktails being shaken.
Surrounded by lush jungle, the hotel feels remote but is only meters away from the main entrance of Tayrona – El Zaino. Senda Watapuy offers luxury in a place where backpacking hotels and hostels reign supreme. A visit to the park is a must for anyone exploring Colombia and thousands of people head here every year.
But if you don’t love the idea of ‘roughing it,’ Senda Watapuy offers luxury in a place where backpacking hotels and hostels reign supreme. Base yourself here and enjoy a day trip to Tayrona, or book it as a retreat after staying in the wilds of the park, if you so wish.
The 12 luxury cabins are set surrounded by landscaped gardens and the architecture embraces indoor-outdoor living, with vast outdoor common spaces and traditional tall palm roofs. The main open-air building is home to the lobby and the restaurant, which curve around the pool – a tranquil spot with a handful of sumptious sunbeds.
The rooms blew us away. Together with our friends, we stayed in two of their extra large deluxe cabins – legitimately the largest hotel rooms I’ve ever stayed in. Each felt like a natural oasis with its own private Jacuzzi pool, overlooking the gently flowing Stone River.
Scroll down to find out more about our stay at Senda Watapuy. For more travel inspiration in Colombia read our guide to the best beaches in Cartagena and view our feature on the iconic Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa.
- Nature 100% 100%
- Luxury 100% 100%
- Tranquillity 100% 100%
- Unique 100% 100%
“Our hotels have few rooms because we seek a personalized attention to the client to make them feel at home. Our dedication to the attention of our guest is our most important value.”
Best food & drink
1. Koguiwa Restaurant
The hotel restaurant celebrates Caribbean culture and focuses on indigenous ingredients from small, local growers, across the Sierra Nevada region. The exec chef’s creativity shines through as plates came out resembling colourful pieces of art – think mini towers of avocado and fish tartar, chilli and coconut ceviche topped with wild flowers and Caribbean prawns served in glistening scallop shells.
Breakfast is also served here and you can order anything from traditional arepas topped with local Colombian cheeses to tortilla and fresh fruit salads. The smoothies are the ultimate hangover cure – ask for extra ginger.
2. Ikaro Cafe
Santa Marta town isn’t the most relaxing place to explore, but if you love your coffee, head to Ikaro. This place is a haven for vegetarians and vegans – they serve everything from healthy Buddha bowls to zingy noodles – and is an airy space with colourful murals and a living botanical wall.
The coffee is produced on their own farm located in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and roasted in the coffee shop. It was one of the best Colombian cups we had all holiday, so well worth a visit. If you spot a local stuffing arepas over a barbecue just outside, be sure to buy one. Arepas are the popular corn bread snack that Colombians feast on any time of day, and they’re delicious.
3. Watapuy Bar
The poolside bar is its own little ecosystem with chilled-out house music and shelves of local spirits, including Aguardiente. This local Colombian spirit is an anise-flavoured liqueur made from sugar cane and isn’t for the faint-hearted!
We didn’t need to venture far for our night cap, and we toasted the end of our trip with local beers and their signature frozen strawberry and lime daiquiris.
The rooms exceeded all our expectations. Our deluxe cabin was incredibly spacious with traditional high ceilings, and an open bathroom with a huge waterfall shower and local sustainable products with aromas of wild flowers and coconut.
The design is natural and tranquil with warm woods and soft-white sheets. Outside, there was a pretty deck and heated Jacuzzi pool that appears to drop off right into the jungle. We sipped cocktails in the evening to the sound of the river beyond and felt completely hidden away.
Senda Watapuy is literally meters away from the main entrance of Tayrona National Park – though make sure to book your entrance tickets in advance to avoid the queues. Here, you can explore some of Colombia’s most remote beaches (if you don’t mind a bit of hiking). Add to that, the park is set in acres and acres of lush tropical forests, with hundreds of secret trails to discover.
Choose to trek or horseride to some of its more remote spots like Playa Cristal (which allows only 300 visitors per day) or Neguanje. La Piscina and Cabo San Juan beaches are closer to the entrance and are safe for swimmers to take a dip. Arrecifes is a wild stretch of beach and also worth a visit for some jaw-dropping photos.
The tiny mountain town of Minca is just a 40-minute drive away. A nature lover’s paradise, there are waterfalls, mountain trails and coffee farms to enjoy. We stayed in a luxury eco-pod on the Terramia Estate. The pods are thoughtfully designed and come with hot tubs, barbecues and stunning views across the valley. I could have stayed for days just listening to the cacophony of birdsong.
Though we had a private pool in our room, the main infinity pool remained quiet and felt like its own oasis. Here, we were able to fully unwind after our two-day hike across Tayrona. The hotel bar is just steps away and you can easily order a lunch of fish tacos and daiquiri straight to your lounger.
The hotel also offered private morning Hatha yoga sessions – in your room or poolside – and massages to your room for the ultimate treat.
Browse all the amazing places to stay recently added to the Wild Bay Collection and find your dream vacation, and if you’ve stayed somewhere unforgettable that you think we should showcase contact us with your recommendation.
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