Family Trip to Colombia - Jun 14 - Jun 22, 2018

Traveler: George Y. - Local specialist: Elisabeth Grosset

Planning Notes

1. Final itinerary should come out to the group sooner. There was little to no time to consider changes for the group (example, we would have liked starting an hour later each day)

Transportation Notes

1. Our Bogota to Santa Marta flight was a complete mess! We didn't have confirmed seats and couldn't pre book them due to bad wifi connection speeds in Bogota. Because of this we almost didn't get to go on our flight and needed to wait while the airline asked 7 volunteers to take a later flight. Even when we finally got seats they were all dispersed and it took additional changes to ensure the children could be with someone from our group.

2. Transportation to the fishing village and final transportation to the Cartagena airport for the last transfer were super tight! This was strange considering that for our other trips the vehicle was sufficiently large enough.

Bogota Notes

1. Walking tour was cut short due to rain. Is there anyway to have a more concrete back up plan if weather intervenes?

2. Adding a souvenir destination in some of the market areas of Bogota to the walking tour would be great to explore some of the handmade/cultural items available.

3. Ingrid, our Bogota guide, was kind, helpful, and friendly. Would definitely recommend her to other groups.

4. Hotel (Casa Deco) was in a good location and the staff were all helpful and friendly. Though the construction on that road made it difficult for our transportation to get in and out of the area.

5. Monserrate portion of trip was awesome. Great views, easy to access, & shopping available. Plenty of time to spend at our own pace.

Santa Marta Notes

1. Hotel was in a central location and staff was friendly & helpful.

2. However, hotel (Casa Ferol) nickeled & dimed everything we needed - extra charge for drinks during breakfast, charging for a bucket of ice without previously telling us it would cost us extra, etc.

3. Tayrona Park guides (Angel & Jorge) were great. Friendly, knowledgable, and attentive to the group. They did everything - helping kids and older adults with the hike and helping with ordering of lunch.

4. Tayrona hike is NOT for all fitness levels. Older adults and young children struggled with the heat, length of the hike, and large uneven steps in the hiking areas. Some of the adults with back and knee problems struggled with the hike as well.

5. Large waterfall of Marinka was awesome. High hammock and swimming was very nice.

6. Hummingbird stop was something we really enjoyed

7. Pozo Azul was a long, somewhat treacherous hike (wet rocks that we had to scale) for a small payoff compared to what we saw in the morning. Probably our least favorite stop on our trip.

8. Coffee plantation stop was boring. Nothing was actually happening (none of the equipment was running or being used) so following the guides words was difficult without seeing it in action. Also explanations given to the group were too detailed and made it super hard to follow.

9. A warning about how bumpy and windy the roads in Minca would have been appreciated. Several people in our party felt ill from all the bouncing (especially the children).

10. The driver in and around Santa Marta (and who also drove us to Cartagena) was EXCELLENT.

11. We loved the authenticity of the Minca restaurant on the slide of the cliff.

Cartagena Notes

1. Sergio (our tour gudie) was excellent. Presented things well about the history of Colombia.

2. The Emerald museum stop of our city tour by bus felt forced and more like a ploy to get a purchase of emeralds than an informational stop about Colombia's culture.

3. Rosario Island was a great stop. Snorkeling was fun and this stop was our most relaxing of our entire trip.

4. While walking tour was excellent, again, we would have appreciated a more planned opportunity for souvenir shopping.

5. Canoe trip thru mangroves was a bit too long. Crouched over for a whole hour was a bit rough on our backs and knees (especially for the older adults).

6. Our guide (believe it was Enrique) was awesome. He was open, friendly, and made it a point to learn our names. He also tried to relate to our children to make them more comfortable. He communicated things well and felt like a member of our group versus someone who was hired to guide us. Would definitely recommend him to others.