Superb experience booking through KimKim
Apr 10 - Apr 17, 2023
Great experience working with and booking through KimKim! Excellent platform for connections to and interactions with local tour providers. Just returned from a week in Colombia organized by Aracanto Colombia through KimKim. Review of the experience below:
I am not prone to superlatives or hyperbole. However, I would be horribly remiss if I were to not use them to describe the service my we have received thus far from Felipe Rico, Margoth Rico, and team at Aracanto. Woefully insufficient number of stars available to grade their service!
We are in the second half of our tour of Colombia and it has been nothing short of exceptional! We travel a lot the world over, and Aracanto are hands-down among the best travel curators we have worked with! Right from the get-go, our connection with Felipe Rico was very comfortable - he was calm, understanding, very responsive and friendly, and curated a superb private tour itinerary for us, spanning sights in and around Medellin and Cartagena. As advertised, Felipe, Margoth, and team are passionate, care deeply about showing off their country and are equally, if not more, solicitous of their customers’ needs and desires. They hooked us up with superb lodging (the Patio del Mundo boutique hotel in Medellin was a magical tropical bungalow/paradise - great service, exceptional lodgings, the lovely welcome gift awaiting us at the hotel was a thoughtful surprise; Nacar Hotel Curio Collection by Hilton, is equally unique, in the walled old city in Cartagena - superb location) and equally superb guides in each city - Andres Jimenez in Medellin, a knowledgeable and passionate young man (a well-traveled, multilingual (Spanish/English/Portuguese) Chemical Engineer by education and experience, turned expert travel guide) who became a friend; and Isaac Francis in Cartagena, equally competent and friendly!
Felipe, Margoth, and team have been exceptionally organized, superbly responsive to our myriad queries, and keenly attuned to our tastes and preferences. In an instance where a certain planned event did not occur due to a miscommunication by the event owner, they promptly refunded that portion of the cost - no questions asked!
The restaurants they chose for us, the visits to picturesque/colorful Guatape and El Peñol near Medellin, to rum and chocolate tasting at the Arsenal of Rum, and cooking with Caro (owner-chef at Oh La La Bistro - see separate review), both in the Getesmani, neighborhood of Cartagena, to a resort/beach excursion at Isla Bomba tomorrow …each better than the other! Thank you, Felipe, Margoth and the rest of the Aracanto team for making our first visit to Colombia a memorable one!
Did I say I was not given to superlatives/hyperbole?? Oh, what the heck!!
Lovely boutique hotel in the leafy/hilly/safe El Poblado neighborhood of Medellin. Spans two bungalows that are beautifully repurposed to serve as a boutique hotel. Incredible tropical foliage and local handicraft decor woven into the common areas - very welcoming, inviting, refreshing. The owner, Agnes(?) has fantastic taste - ably supported by dedicated staff who are eager to please. Service and breakfast were superb…rooms are elegantly appointed, shower areas have colorful local tiling with a great touch - plants/foliage inside the shower enclosure. Only regret - spent too little time at this location. Plan to return, however. Kudos to Andres/Isabel/Erica/Laura/Housekeeping, for taking good care of us!
Lovely Hilton hotel in their Curio Collection, located near the sea wall and within the old walled city of Cartegena. Large, well-appointed rooms with typical Hilton amenities - clean rooms, comfortable beds, good toiletries, great shower pressure and drainage! On-site Uma Restaurant provides excellent local and western breakfast and local delicacies for lunch and dinner. Great staff -eager to please. Only downsides: a) Hardly any of the staff speaks English, despite the town and hotel hosting significant numbers of tourists from English-speaking countries. Made communication very difficult - combo of our elementary Spanish and the staff’s equally elementary English. b) We were located on the 3rd floor - directly below the 4th floor bar/club, Gets extremely noisy with staff dragging furniture etc during off times and loud thumping reggaeton and other club music well into the night on weekends! Made sleeping rather difficult!
All of transfers were flawless including the one from to and from the airport!
We enjoyed the dinner reservations made by the travel specialist, particularly our meal at El Correo in Medellin. It was a very nice and fancy restaurant, and the food was good. However, after trying a few Colombian dishes, we decided to explore different cuisines and found our own dining spots. We appreciated the flexibility provided by the travel specialist and the curated restaurant recommendations.
Our guide was knowledgeable and friendly. You can tell the people here are very passionate about their country and have a lot of pride.
Once again we had a flawless experience with transfers and transportation, the vehicles were nice, and the staff provided excellent service.
The guide Andres was phenomenal, the first half of the tour was wonderful, but the second half of the walking tour was more shopping. We wish they separated the shopping from the tour or let us know to come back to the shopping later, as we felt a bit rushed.
We had a phenomenal experience at the rum tasting, which included a chocolate pairing, and the local staff was very knowledgeable and attentive.
We enjoyed the cooking class with Carlina, at her restaurant, which provided a unique and enjoyable experience. We got to walk around the market beforehand with her and then she even walked us to our next tour afterwards.
The coffee-tasting experience was disappointing as the host was not prepared for our arrival, causing us to cancel the activity. We appreciated our specialist, Felipe, who took care of the cancellation.
We found the beach club pool lounge experience to be decent but not something we would necessarily repeat, we were glad we did it but we prefer more active and cultural activities. We also felt like the poolside lounge chairs were a bit expensive. We would recommend waiting until you arrive to book the chairs.