Cartagena, Medellin, Eje Cafetero, Bogota - Apr 20 - May 4, 2019
Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our trip and are glad we used kimkim to create a bespoke travel plan! Almost every piece lined up perfectly and we were able to do and see so much more of gorgeous Colombia than we would have been able to do on our own. We would certainly consider using kimkim to organise future travels to up-and-coming holiday destinations.
We've copied the travel itinerary overview below to drop in some feedback for Nicolas and Tucaya to consider when making arrangements for future travelers.
Day 1: Transfer to Santa Marta - Transrubio in Bogota was fine, though the driver arrived at 6am, not 9am which caused some confusion. Al Caribe transport was perfect.
Day 2: Explore Tayrona National Park - Our guide in Tayrona was excellent!
Day 3: Relax on the Beach - We booked Tayrona Tented Lodges ourselves
Day 4: Exploring Minca - Though natural beauty surrounding Minca is breathtaking, but Minca itself is touristy and unappealing to us. Though Hotel Sweet Harmony is a nice place with helpful staff, we would have preferred to stay up in the mountains rather than in the town.
Fidel provided our transfer from Tayrona to Minca - honestly, he might be a little too eccentric for most travelers. He seemed rather loony and made us a tad uncomfortable.
Fidel also offered to take us on a quick ride up to the waterfall once we arrived in Minca. He then charged us $70,000COP which we know was way to much for a 10 minute drive anywhere in Colombia. It was really annoying to be ripped off by an agency that Tucaya partnered with and that we were already paying for transport and tours.
Day 5: Travel to Cartagena - The morning bird watching activity was excellent! However, it overran by 90 minutes so we were pretty hungry and thirsty by the end since it went much later into the morning than anticipated.
There was also some confusion with our transfer time to Cartagena. Given that there wasn’t much to do in Minca itself, we wanted to head to Cartagena right after the bird tour, but the driver’s time had been pushed back.
Once the driver arrived, the transfer was really comfortable and swift.
Hotel Santa Catalina was luxurious. In retrospect, we would have been happy to pay less and stay in a less nice hotel because this hotel was SO fabulous.
Day 6: Escape to Islas del Rosario - We did not like the service provided by Gente de Mar. They were late to leave the harbor and the day was so regimented it was hard to enjoy the beach because they kept interrupting with bells to do this or that. They were very pushy about getting paid early for the drinks we bought and made us get back on the boat at 3pm, so we really didn’t have much time there at all.
Furthermore, on our voucher from Tucaya it said there would be a lobster lunch and an opportunity to kayak. Neither of these things were true. No lobster, no kayaks.
Day 7: Free Day at Cartagena - We were glad to have this day to explore this amazing city.
Day 8: Explore Colombia's Coffee Region - Our transport all the way from Cartagena to Armenia went smoothly. The driver in Armenia was exceptional kind and helpful, we really liked him.
Bosques del Saman Alcala was fine, not great. There was music nearby playing really, really loud all night and we couldn’t sleep. The jacuzzi was dirty and not hot. The food provided was decent and the views spectacular.
Day 9: Explore Cocora Valley - This tour was excellent for the most part. However, Salamanca was very crowded and it was hard to appreciate the town or explore the stores with our guide hovering around the whole time. We would have preferred to just have a free hour there on our own before reuniting with the guide. Actually, we would have preferred to skip Salamanca altogether and spend 1.5 hours on our own in Filandia. That town was cuter, quieter and the people were so friendly!
Day 10: Visit a Local Coffee Farm - Prior to the coffee farm tour, we had a long morning just at the hotel which was boring. As we said, we didn’t think much of the hotel and we wished there had been something else planned for this time.
Finca Casa Vieja was fantastic, as was the lunch provided! This experience felt authentic and we learned a lot. We also enjoyed going into Quimbaya to the cafe to see the coffee culture in a local setting.
Transport to Bogota all went well. Our stay at Movich was very comfortable. Again, we could have stayed in a less extravagant place and saved money overall.
Day 11-14: The luxuriant Amazon Jungle - The flight to Leticia was fine and a representative from Calanoa greeted us. The community boat to the resort was quite uncomfortable.
The staff at Calanoa were really dedicated and attentive and the accommodations were reasonably comfortable given we were in the Amazon!
We did the following activities:
-Short daytime hike
-Long daytime hike
-Kayaking on the Amazon
-Tour of the reservation
-Monkey foundation island
-Sailing to look at dolphins
-Sailing around the island to look at wildlife and fish
All activities were quite engaging. In retrospect, I wish we had also gone to Puerto Narino. The food was pretty good, but it would have been nice to have some service there to buy snacks from the kitchen between meal times (hiking makes us hungry!). Between activities there isn't much to do, especially at the really buggy times of day when you can't be outside, but understandably this is part of the Amazonian experience.
Though we had a great trip, there were a few areas we were unhappy with. We had requested Spanish speaking guides and all of the guides were English speakers. One of the purposes of this trip was to challenge our Spanish language skills and we were disappointed to have English guides throughout. Given the prices we saw for things in Colombia, we feel the trip was quite expensive and we would have preferred to stay at some less luxurious hotels in order to save a couple hundred dollars. We had mentioned this to Nicolas prior to the trip, and perhaps he did adjust us down a level, but we could have gone done a bit further even.