Cartagena, Tayrona, Purace National Park

  A couple visited Colombia in December 2016

“We have our flights in and out of Colombia booked. We arrive in Cartagena and would like to spend a few days there, and 3 nights in Tayrona. Here are a few places we're considering — Medellin/Choco region, Cali / Popayan, Natural Los Nevados (Manizles,, Salento or Pereira), Barichara / El Cocuy, and Bogota (Departure City). We are seasoned international travelers and are looking for an authentic experience! Looking forward to hearing from you!”


Katherine Caicedo, a local specialist from Colombia, helped this traveler put together a customized itinerary.

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Trip planning highlights

166 messages exchanged
5 trip plan versions shared
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Trip planning conversation

Katherine

Hi! Thanks for your interest in discovering Colombia with us! I'll be more than glad to help you organize an adventure of a lifetime in my country!

Katherine

I saw you've already seen some places you'll like to visit during this trip. Among these, Nuquí in the Pacific coast. Great choice. Just keep in mind we won't have the whales during the season your coming to Colombia.

I just have a few questions in order to know a little bit more what you’re looking for and start putting together a tailor-made program for you:

1. How many days are you planning to stay in Cartagena?
2. What type of activities do you enjoy? (trekking, extreme sports, guided cultural and historical tours, encounter with local communities, nature and wild, relaxing by the beach?)
3. Would you be interested in having local guides for parts of your trip?
4. What type of hotels are you looking for?

I look forward to your comments.

Kind regards from Colombia,
Katherine

Traveler

Hi Katherine,

Thanks for your note.

1. We arrive very late on 12/21 to CTG. We will depart on the 24th to Tayrona. So we will be in CTG 2 1/2 days.

2. We like to hike/trek (day hikes only) we are fit and experienced hikers. We have done white water rafting and a lot of kayaking, not sure about "extreme sports", it depends. Probably not zip lining. We aren't into things just for the thrill of it. Very interested in encounters with local communities, possibly historical tours we will probably do some beach relaxing and hiking in Tayrona. Interested in nature. Local markets and local arts and crafts.

3. We are pretty independent travelers and probably prefer independent travel but understand that in some cases guides might be necessary, for instance for local encounters?

4. Mid to higher range smaller hotels. No US chain hotels. I booked the EcoHabs in Tayrona as they were booked and I had to act to get the room. No camping for us on this trip.

5. We are also interested in "off the beaten track" and not highly "touristy" areas of the country.

Hope that helps. Please let me know if you have other questions. Where are you located? Once we get further into the process is it possible to speak?

Katherine

Thanks for your answer and for sharing with me all the details. If you like we can also have a short skype call tomorrow, just to explain you more in detail the ideas I have in mind and asking you a few more questions.

I'm really excited about helping you organize this trip!

Katherine

I'm still working on the final details of your program to send it to you by the end of the afternoon. Just one doubt, in terms of rooms, what types of rooms would you prefer? I look forward to your comments.

Traveler

Hi Katherine, Thank you for the proposal, you've put together some interesting ideas. We reviewed it and have done some more research based on what you proposed. I think we want to be more off the beaten track at some points and seeing the time constraints most likely won't want to see the coffee region and think we will want to hike in Los Nevados. I will put a more detailed not together tomorrow.

Traveler

Hi Katherine,

Thanks for the itinerary you put together for us; you have found some interesting things for us to do and we are getting very excited! We have reviewed and here is our feed backandf some adjustments. First we want to get the outline and then dial into the details, except for the first part of the trip:

Cartagena Questions:
o Is the Hotel Don Pedro de Heradia available? How much? Are there other options?
o Day 4 transportation: what about renting a car? What is the cost of private transport to the park?
o We also heard about a boat transport from Santa Marta, do you know anything about this?

After Cartagena I think we would like to explore one of two options and get your perspective on this proposal:

Option 1:
1. Cartagena to Los Nevados National park and spend a few days hiking/exploring the area. I think we aren’t as interested in the commercialized coffee plantation tours. We found a hiking guide service:
http://crestedoutdoors.com/

2. Then down to Cali/Popoyan/Silvia area. We saw a market that might be interesting but it’s only on Tuesdays (that would mean the 3rd.
http://www.popayantours.com/silvia/
http://grandescapades.net/silvia-guambiano-indigenous-market/

3. This would mean traveling back to Bogata and not really spending much time there, which would be OK

Option 2: (reversed)
1. Cartagena to Cali/Popoyan area we hear there are some hot springs?
2. Los Nevados National park
3. Bogata

What do you think?

Traveler

Good Morning Katherine,
I hope you had a great weekend. Can we have a quick check in today via Skype?
Any time this morning before 11:30 am MST (your time 1:30)
or at 1:30 pm (your time 3:30) or 3:30 pm MST (your time 5:30). You are two hours ahead of us now.

Katherine

Thanks for your messages and feedback. I was just looking at everything. I think option 1 looks really great. Actually we do have a 2 days trek to Los Nevados and can also take you to the hot springs in Santa Rosa.

Katherine

Sorry I meant a 3 days trek*

Having a Skype call would be great. I think by the end of the afternoon works better for me. 5:30pm my time is perfect!

I really look forward to speaking to you again and moving forward with your trip to Colombia! :)

Best,
Katherine

Katherine

Thanks for your time today. I have your new program ready. According to what we agreed to. I just need the answer from the guide in Popayán confirming the rates and availability for the Puracé Trek in order to send you the proposal. I will try to call him back tomorrow and hopefully send you the itinerary tomorrow as well.

Have a nice weekend!

Best,
Katherine

Traveler

Hi Katherine,
Good morning. We hope you had a great weekend. Thanks very much for getting the itinerary to us this weekend. It's looking really great so far. Here are our questions/comments:

Day 1/Cartagena:
-We both arrive at 22:42

Day 2/Cartagena: This sounds interesting.
-Is the canoe ride with a group or just the two of us?
-Can you tell us a bit more about Fisherman Island and Bird Park? I wasn't able to find anything on the internet.

Day 3/Cartagena:
-Is this day on our own or with a guide?

Day 6/Tayrona:
-Are there more hiking options in the park other than Pueblito?

Day 7/Tayrona to Salento:
-are there earlier flights?
-Is the Hotel EL Mirador Del Cocora available?

Day 8-10:
-I think we are liking option 2: Filandia/Otun Quimbaya/Santa Rosa
-It appears that OPT 2 doesn't go into Los Nevados Park at all, is that correct?

Day 8: / Salento
-The itinerary stated 2.5K and 5h. Wondering if that is a typo...is it 12.5K.
-What does MASL mean?
-Not yet New Years Eve :)

Day 9 / Salento:
-Is Otun Quimbaya mainly a bird sanctuary?

Day 11 / Salento to Popayan
-is there a way to fly this on a small regional plane?
-do you know if the Hotel Arcada Payanesa is available?
-New Year's Eve

Day 12 / Popayan to Purace NP
-We are wondering about the Park Cabins vs the rural home?
-might prefer rural home
-can you describe differences?

Day 14 / Bogota
-we depart very late at night. We are thinking about getting a very cheap hotel just to take a shower and rest in before we leave for the airport???

Let us know when you can discuss.

Katherine

I hereby send you the answer to your questions.

Day 1/Cartagena:
-We both arrive at 22:42
Day 2/Cartagena: This sounds interesting.
-Is the canoe ride with a group or just the two of us?
La Boquilla is a small Fishermen’s town located 15 minutes away from Cartagena. It is known because of its gastronomy and fresh seafood. You won’t find a lot of information about it because it is really an off the beaten track experience. There you will go on a canoe throughout the magrooves during the sunset. It is a very nice a opportunity to relax and admire the nature. You will go just the two of you.
Day 3/Cartagena:
Yes this day I left it to your selves. If you like we can organize for you a walking tour in the historical center with a local English speaking guide.
Day 6/Tayrona:
-Are there more hiking options in the park other than Pueblito?
Yes. Inside the Tayrona park there is another hiking option, up to Cabo San Juan: You will discover the jungle and the beaches of Tayrona Park. You start with a hike in the tropical jungle from Cañaveral. You then visit the exotic beaches of Arrecifes and stop at La Piscina, ideal for swimming and snorkeling. Continue to the Cabo San Juan del Guia, wonderful bay of white sand surrounded by huge volcanic rocks. On the way, observe the local fauna and flora of this magnificent park with your guide.
Day 7/Tayrona to Salento:
-are there earlier flights? There are very few sits left on this flight. That is why I chose the one that had a little bit more sits available.
-Is the Hotel EL Mirador Del Cocora available? We currently don’t work with this hotel I will try to contact them but it may take a while for them to send us all the information and documents required.
Day 8-10:
-I think we are liking option 2: Filandia/Otun Quimbaya/Santa Rosa
-It appears that OPT 2 doesn't go into Los Nevados Park at all, is that correct? Yes, that is correct. Actually you do need at least 2 or 3 days to go inside the Parque Los Nevados from Salento.
Day 8: / Salento
-The itinerary stated 2.5K and 5h. Wondering if that is a typo...is it 12.5K. I’m checking the exact Kilometers with the guide.
-What does MASL mean? Meters above sea level
-Not yet New Years Eve :). Will correct this.
Day 9 / Salento:
-Is Otun Quimbaya mainly a bird sanctuary? It has a lot of birds but also other types of fauna and flora.
Day 11 / Salento to Popayan
-is there a way to fly this on a small regional plane? There is really not a direct regional flight from Armenia or Pereira up to Popayán. If you prefer to go by plane you would necessarily need to make a stopover in Bogotá.
-do you know if the Hotel Arcada Payanesa is available? We currently don’t work with this hotel. We would need to contact them and ask them to send us all the information and documents required.
-New Year's Eve
Day 12 / Popayan to Purace NP
-We are wondering about the Park Cabins vs the rural home?
-might prefer rural home
-can you describe differences? Rural homes are local guests house located in small villages (I discuss this with the guide and this is the best option) and park cabins are more for camping.
Day 14 / Bogota
-we depart very late at night. We are thinking about getting a very cheap hotel just to take a shower and rest in before we leave for the airport??? Yes, we can change the hotel for a cheaper one.

Katherine

Hi!

Already spoke with the guide in Salento. It is possible to do a 2 day trek inside the park. Staying at a small local house one night. In just one day you would'nt be able to actaully get inside the Nevados Park.

So we can do this 2 day trek, then return to Salento and then the next day do the trek up to the town of Finlandia.

What do you think?

I look forward to your comments.

Kind regards,
Katherine

Traveler

Hi Katherine,
- I made the first payment. Should I wait to pay the balance in case there are adjustments?

-I think that the two-day trek into Los Nevados sounds good plus one day to Finlandia.

I will now address the rest of the points below. Please see my notes.

Day 1/Cartagena:
-We both arrive at 22:42
Our arrival flight:
Wed, 21DEC16 UA7135 PANAMA CITY, PANAMA
(PTY) 9:28 PM CARTAGENA CO (CTG) 10:42 PM

Day 2/Cartagena: This sounds interesting.
-Is the canoe ride with a group or just the two of us?
La Boquilla is a small Fishermen’s town located 15 minutes away from Cartagena. It is known because of its gastronomy and fresh seafood. You won’t find a lot of information about it because it is really an off the beaten track experience. There you will go on a canoe throughout the mangroves during the sunset. It is a very nice opportunity to relax and admire the nature. You will go just the two of you.

Day 3/Cartagena:
Yes this day I left it to your selves. If you like we can organize for you a walking tour in the historical center with a local English speaking guide.

Day 6/Tayrona:
-Are there more hiking options in the park other than Pueblito?
Yes. Inside the Tayrona park there is another hiking option, up to Cabo San Juan: You will discover the jungle and the beaches of Tayrona Park. You start with a hike in the tropical jungle from Cañaveral. You then visit the exotic beaches of Arrecifes and stop at La Piscina, ideal for swimming and snorkeling. Continue to the Cabo San Juan del Guia, wonderful bay of white sand surrounded by huge volcanic rocks. On the way, observe the local fauna and flora of this magnificent park with your guide.

Day 7/Tayrona to Salento:
-are there earlier flights? There are very few seats left on this flight. That is why I chose the one that had a little bit more seats available.
-Is the Hotel EL Mirador Del Cocora available? We currently don’t work with this hotel I will try to contact them but it may take a while for them to send us all the information and documents required.

Day 14 / Bogota
-we depart very late at night. We are thinking about getting a very cheap hotel just to take a shower and rest in before we leave for the airport??? Yes, we can change the hotel for a cheaper one.

Our departure flight:
Wed, 04JAN17 UA1559 BOGOTA, COLOMBIA (BOG) 11:50 PM NEWARK, NJ

Katherine

I'm still awaiting at the rates of the 2-day trek to los Nevados. The guide was on a trek this week and due to weather conditions wasn't able to descend today. He told me he will send me both, the rates and program during the weekend. So I guess we will have the final proposal on Monday.

I will send you all the information as soon as I have it.

Kind regards,
Katherine

Katherine

Hope everything is going great. I'm finalizing all the bookings of your hotels and flights but I do need and scanned copy of his passport to move forward. Can you please send it to me as soon as you can?

As for the hotels we are still waiting for 2 hotels to send us the confirmation of the availability for the dates, (Salento Real and MS at Popayán) the rest are all confirmed.

I look forward to your comments.

Kind regards,
Katherine

Katherine

Hope you're both having a great day!

As I mentioned yesterday, I was just waiting for the confirmation of two hotels at Popayán and Salento. Unfortunately, since the availabilities change a lot during they high season they both answer they didn't have availability for all of the nights we requested.

Nonetheless I found two very good options, similar to the hotels we had before. I already pre-booked both hotels just to be sure.

I hereby send you their websites.

Salento: Posada del Café -http://www.laposadadelcafe.com/index.php?la-posada_es
Popayán: La Plazuela - http://hotellaplazuela.com.co/

According to this, I would send you the final proposal tomorrow morning and with this the balance due amount.

Best from Colombia,
Katherine

Traveler

Can you continue to check on availability for the earlier flights for the next couple of weeks....maybe someone will cancel and we can get 2 seats, otherwise we loose a whole day in transit.

Katherine

Well if someone cancels one seat, Avianca will probably send it to the last minute and in a very expensive rate. The thing is we had to book it because also for this fligth there were only 4 seats available. We looked at other options and airlines but this was the one getting there earlier that was available for the planned date.

Traveler

Thanks for the updates Katherine.

Traveler

Hi Katherine,

Thanks for the update. Just a few comments upon reading:

12/25 Day 6: We don’t need a guide on this day in Tyrona to hike to Pueblito. Please adjust this.

12/28 Day 8: The details in this section mention 3 days of hiking, please confirm and update to 2 day hike (day 8-9).
Please confirm that we will not need to bring bedding/sleeping bag for this over night at the rural home.
Will we be able to leave our bags securely at Posada Del Cafe the night that we are in Los Nevados? We will only have day packs in the park.

1/1 Day 12: Please confirm that we are staying in rural home (with bedding provided) and not park cabins.

1/4 Day 15?: Were you able to find a less expensive hotel for the last day/evening?

Can you tell us what the expected hi/low temps will be during our trips and especially the weather conditions we should expect in the National Parks.

Katherine

I hereby answer your doubts:

12/25 Day 6: Ok perfect will adjust this.
12/28 Day 8: Yes, is a two-day hike.
We already contact the hotel; you can leave your luggage there.
1/1 Day 12: You will stay at the local rural house whilst in the trek. And you can also leave your luggage in the hotel La Plazuela.
1/4 Day 15: Yes. I included the hotel Casa Platypus. More simple and less expensive.
I will send you more details regarding the weather conditions a temperatures of the Park for the season as soon as possible.

Best,
Katherine

Traveler

Hi Katherine,
Thanks! sorry to keep on the details but know it is best to get everything ironed out now.

1. Can you confirm that rural home stays will have bedding?

2. I can't see the itinerary anymore, can you update all information?

3. Do we have 2 hotels in Bogata then? I can't recall.

4. Will you please make a price adjustment based on eliminating the day with guide and driver?

Traveler

Originally we were booking at the Salento Real and now we are at the Posada Del Cafe. I'm concerned about that property as reviews say it is really noisy. Is the Real available?

Traveler

I think that some of my messages confused you about the Bogata hotel. I'm not going to try to explain via text as I will just confuse it more. We are OK with a price adjustment for the Deco.

Katherine

Ok perfect.

Unfortunately, Salento Real is not available for these dates, this is why we had to book Posada del Café.

Traveler

Are there other options? Have you had people stay at the Posada? I read on-line reviews and was concerned about it. Sounds really charming but very noisy ( no glass on windows and right on a street with a lot of noise) and very small cramped rooms .

Traveler

I'm out of town on my lap top. It's taking me a while to get up on Skype.

Katherine

Yes, we have had a lot of tourist staying at the hotel, and most of them gives us good reviews. It is true the hotel is located very close to a main street so it could have a little bit of noise coming from the outside. Initially I proposed Salento Real because it had a quieter location but unfortunately is not available, nor were the other options. I would validate again in the other two hotels if maybe they had a cancellation and we can change it.

Katherine

I was just about to write you. We were waiting to see if something opened up in Salento but unfortunately everything is still booked up. For this reason, we most keep the reservation at Posada del Café.

I should have the confirmation of Casa Déco in Bogotá this afternoon in order to send you the final proposal.

Best,
Katherine

Traveler

in terms of the flight....people cancel flights from time to time for various reasons. We are willing to pay a small rebooking fee if something opens up. If you could continue to check every few days we would appreciate it

Katherine

Ok perfect. I will continue to look up and will let you know.

Katherine

As for the flight from Santa Marta to Armenia, I saw today 2 seats are available in an earlier flight. Nonetheless, the rates are extremely high and changing you to this flight will cost around 220 USD per person.

Katherine

I will send you the documents to your email, I think by the end of this week. As for the registration form I will send you the Word version to your email. That way you won't have to print it and can edit it in your computer.

Traveler

Katherine,
THANK YOU for your fast reply. I am totally in a tizzy over this! I know most countries require 6 months so I looked it up. Can't remember where I found the information that 6 months was not necessary.

Traveler

Hi Katherine,

Thank you for all of the travel documents! Just a few questions.
1. Upon our arrival to Cartegena will the driver be waiting in arrivals with a name card for us?

2. For our inner Colombia flights do we need to reconfirm before the flight? Do we get our boarding pass when we arrive at the airports?

3. Does our international flight back home need to be reconfirmed?

4. Hotel vouchers. Do we cut apart and give each hotel the appropriate voucher or just show it to them?

5. Hotel beds: It states 1 twin. Hopefully that means 1 room with 2 twin beds (not 1 twin bed :). 1 large bed is also OK. Is it common to be able to request non-smoking rooms?

6. I am going to the passport office tomorrow morning and hope that I can get a new passport before the trip.

It's great to have all of the additional information on Columbia, restaurants, music, authors!!!

Thanks again for all of your help and attention. I can't wait for the trip! You must all be proud that your President received the Nobel Peace prize. There was a national show here on Sunday night about the amazing advertising campaign to invite the FARC home for Christmas. It was an amazing story and a great example. I'm glad to be visiting a place that will give me hope at this time when so many are at such a loss in our country.

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Traveler Review

Katherine worked very hard on our behalf, especially given the short time frame in which we were planning. She also was great while we were in country and got sick and had to revise parts of our trip. She was always available to help re-adjust. There were two of the lodging options that were disappointing. Cartagena, Tayrona and Silvia were the highlights of the trip for me.