Replies: 7 - Last Post: Jan 25, 2010 1:43 PM Last Post By: Ken12345
Jan 21, 2010 9:18 PM
Cartagena SafetyAlright, I just booked my ticket to Cartagena and will be a first time visitor to Colombia. I'm American with pale skin and light hair, so another words I will stick out like a sore thumb. Now I'm reading all of these articles about Cartagena safety going downhill and the addition of 275 police officers to the area and it makes me wonder if I made a smart move. Should I be concerned about my safety here, what are the safest yet cheapest options to stay in Cartagena? Is Santa Marta safe? Will my bus ride be safe from Cartagena to Santa Marta? Just trying to pin down whether or not this is some fluke or the start of something larger.
Please someone with recent experience or who lives there chime in. I'm also a couchsurfer and would be open to that as well.
Jan 22, 2010 11:20 AM
1We were in Cartagena and Santa Marta in December. We don't have fair hair, but otherwise don't look like Colombians (although a little girl in Santa Marta asked me if I was a "cachaca"). We stayed in El Centro. Since it's dark at 6, it's hard to avoid walking around in the dark, but we had no problems either. Walked around Getsemani in the day and took lots of photos -- didn't feel any bad atmosphere although parts of Getsemani were a bit seedy and I would avoid it at night. Our only problem at Café Media Luna (downstairs from the hostel mentioned in #6) was that the waiter tried to cheat us on change, with a smile of course.
Took the bus from Cartagena to Santa Marta. No problems. We did see lots of police around, though much less in Cartagena than in Bogota. Quite a few in Santa Marta as well, near the shore where the cruise ship tourists arrive. Locals told us to use taxis at night rather than buses.
Jan 22, 2010 1:28 PM
Jan 22, 2010 2:11 PM
3I was in Cartagena in June, I have a darker complexion than many gringos but still clearly not Colombiana...I honestly had no problems at all, including walking to and from my hostel in Getsemani after dark (sometimes by myself, though I would not recommend it and I may just have been lucky, try to find people from your hostel going the same way). I didn't meet anyone who had any safety issues either. On the street, take the same precautions you would anywhere, and as for hostel safety - well, it's a lottery - if someone is going to rob your hostel at gunpoint, they are going to do it. Don't keep large amounts of cash and make sure any valuables you have are hidden or locked up. Don't get paranoid, just be sensible and enjoy the beautiful city! I stayed at Hostel Real, perfectly decent and very good AC, though sort of weird bathroom arrangements in the dorm.
Jan 22, 2010 11:51 PM
4We stayed at Hotel El Viajero, calle Porvenir in el Centro. It was fine -- their prices go up in high season but it was clean, air-conditioned rooms/ celing fan, private bathroom and free internet with 3 computers in a common room. use of a kitchen too. No breakfast, but it's central and there is a place with very good juices on the corner nearby. They have a website.
Jan 24, 2010 4:45 PM
5It's pretty damn safe but after 10pm, your best to stick to the touristy areas. Watch out for people who start speaking english to you out of the blue. The issue in Cartgena isn't so much safety, it's getting people not to bother you. When your are offered stuff, just say gracias instead of no gracias. I have no idea why but it works a lot better.
Jan 24, 2010 5:38 PM
6Just on Chriscans comment - am curious if anyone has had an experience meeting a 'Johnny Walker' in Cartagena? i was there in December and met him and had an 'interesting' experience but never found out whether it was a scam or not (we were taken out to a supposed bull fight but after going way further than what we were originally told we took off in a cab back to centro). As for safety in Cartagena, i found it pretty safe esp with all the police around and i def dont look Colombian. I also stayed at Media Luna and while it was nice in terms of the pool and courtyard and the rooms being clean, it did seem a bit dodgy, i would be interested to know if it is confirmed if last Monday was an inside job or not.
Altogether though Cartagena was beautiful, and the whole of Colombia an awesome country, great people as well! Enjoy your trip there!
Jan 25, 2010 1:43 PM
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