Tayrona and Cartagena, and itinerary help (order)
Replies: 4 - Last Post: Dec 6, 2012 12:31 PM Last Post By: kanka
Dec 4, 2012 1:19 AM
Tayrona and Cartagena, and itinerary help (order)Thanks for the help in earlier threads. As my research progresses, new questions pop up.
I'm off to Colombia for a 4.5 week trip in early 2013.
1.5 week into my trip, my friend is flying into Bogotá and we'll share the last 3 weeks travelling together. I'll spend the first 1.5 weeks solo in Villa de Leyva, and San Gil & surroundings.
My friend and I keep going back and forth between two options for those last 3 weeks.
- meeting up in Santa Marta (me flying in from Bucaramanga, only two flights a week but on the right day; her flying in from Bogotá), starting with hot weather, beaches, relaxing in/near PNN Tayrona. Then Cartagena & mud volcano, then maybe Medellín, and definitely the coffee region (Manizales, Salento etc), then Bogotá and home.
- meeting up in Bogotá (me taking a bus back from either San Gil or Villa de Leyva), then coffee region, then Cartagena and mud volcano, then Santa Marta / Tayrona, and fly back to Bogotá and home.
Cartagena seems quite touristy and we both feel we do want to see it but that it might be disappointing. How do people here like Cartagena? Any recommended hotels or rooms in hostels (double with private bathroom and nice views, hopefully 60USD or under)?
Is there a cuter town nearby which is nicer to stay in and from which we could do a daytrip to Cartagena? Or is it really nice to stay in Cartagena proper?
Tayrona or other beach(es)?
As for Tayrona, it seems there are only campsites or super expensive cabañas, nothing inbetween. (I read something about Los Angeles though, how long does it take to get there from Santa Marta?).
We're not into camping.
Will the north be a place for relaxing, hot weather, affordable (say max. 90USD) but private and safe caribean style accommodation? Or is it all overpriced and very touristy?
Should we consider going to some island near Cartagena instead of PNN Tayrona?
Or simply stay in Santa Marta, and visit the national park as a daytrip?
With regards to the order, we're wondering what would be the nicest area to end our holiday in. The coffee region really appeals to us because of cute towns, thermal baths, fincas, nature, but it might be cold and we're wondering whether it won't be a shame to end our holiday in a cold(er) region (would the thermal baths make up for it?).
But I'm a bit worried about the north with regards to prices and crowds.
Any suggestions, options we're missing, thoughts that might help us decide are very welcome.
Dec 4, 2012 3:23 AM
1Order: I don't see any good reason to do first one over the other, except maybe to avoid public holidays in the Carribean - Colombians love to travel in their country, and they love the Carribean so it can get crowded.
Cartagena: It is the most touristy place in Colombia, but it isn't (yet?) Amsterdam in July: you don't see hordes of tourists, and most of the tourists are actually Colombians. I'd say you'd miss something skipping it, and that you'd better stay in Cartagena's old town: you'd spend a lot of time (and your nerves) travelling through Cartagena's traffic congestion, plus modern Cartagena is not that nice. Furthermore, if you come directly from the winter of Europe you'd better take a room with aircon to take a break from the heat and the humidity. Can't recommend a hostel though.
Tayrona: The site of Cañaveral is operated exclusively by Aviatur (a Colombian travel company), and indeed they chose the extremes: hammocks or luxury. I've stayed in the ecohabs, and although they are pricey, I found them definitely worth it: a small hut it the hill with an incredible view from the balcony, you can get your food brought to you on your private terrace while enjoying the view in your hammock. If you have a bit of cash to waste, it's a good place to indulge yourself.
The Carribean in general is a bit crowded (not by tourists, but by Colombians: there are a few big cities there), so if you want a relaxing postcard Carribean experience this is not the place (or you have to pay the price for it). If what you're looking for is somewhere calm and laid-back , you could consider the Island of Providencia: it's a bit complicated to get there, but I don't think people know what the word stress means there: when I was there a taxi refused to take us to the airport as it was too far for him (we did it in 15 minutes on a scooter)
And finally it is not cold in the coffee region, it's a kind of year-long spring.
Dec 4, 2012 3:45 AM
2Thank you, those are all very helpful insights!
Glad to hear Cartagena is not like Amsterdam in July. And that it's not that cold in the coffee region. Thanks for the tip about Providencia, I'll look into it.
Dec 6, 2012 7:49 AM
I left Cartagena yesterday and miss it already! It wasn't too touristy at all.. I mean the restaurants were quite busy in evenings but we had a party of 10 one night and still didn't take too long to find a table!
As for hostels, I would also recommend staying in the old town and we stayed in a nice one called 'El Viajaro Hostel" which is right in the middle of the old town. We stayed in Cartagena before in Getsemani and it wasn't as nice as the old town (but you can walk to it)
Also in Santa Marta I can recommend a hostel called The Dream Hostel. It is a lovely little place with a swimming pool, which is needed in the heat of the Caribbean Coast! While in Santa Marta I would recommend going down to tagenga, only 10 minutes and much nice than Santa Marta.. another nice hostel there is called La Massia and it is very nice.. lovely people, great pool and bar area and only 10 minutes to the beach! Felt completely safe in Tagenga at all times.
We didn't end up going to the Tayrona park as say, but we did go to one of the beaches in the park by boat which meant avoiding charges of the park. It was very nice but was literally a beach and that;s it.
You'll love your time on the Caribbean coast and cannot miss Cartagena and in mt opinion Tagenga too!
Dec 6, 2012 12:31 PM
We didn't end up going to the Tayrona park as say, but we did go to one of the beaches in the park by boat which meant avoiding charges of the park.
I guess that's how the guy who brought you there sold it to you - very Colombian! But not very clever (and probably illegal), as firstly the price to enter the park is not that high, and secondly that money is used to protect the place and pay the salary of the people working there: Tayrona is a national park.
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