​Ursula Hosting, 2019

benjamin and friends in Cartagena 

November 13 to 16, 2019

Hello again, 

I would like to present to you the first version of our proposal for your trip to Cartagena.  I developed this plan based on your input. This is the first take on what we can do for you. We can add, remove, combine, and even create activities and options for you.  We can continue to work on this and tailor it until you are completely satisfied. 

First, based on your input, I am recommending you stay 4 nights in Cartagena, and 2 in the Rosario Islands.  Your itinerary could look like this:  

  • 3 nights in Cartagena, Hilton​​

  • 2 nights in Rosario Islands, Resort - see options below.  

  • 1 nights in Cartagena, Hilton

    • You always need one night before, and one night after the islands because the limited time frame to depart and return from them.

Next l tell you a bit more about Cartagena and the Rosario Islands including activities, accommodations, and services I am proposing:

Note: I will provide other recommendations for itinerary at the end.

Cartagena

  • I usually recommend my guests to stay in the Colonial part of town, El Centro and Getsemani (marked in RED.) This is not only where most attractions and restaurants and bars are located, but it's also very walkable and beautiful.  That is the area that attracts tourism. 

  • The Hilton is located in Bocagrande, which is a newer part of town. A lot of hotels and condo buildings.  One of the advantages there, is that you will have access to the beach, which may not be crystal blue Caribbean looking (because of river water), but nice nevertheless.

  • Bocagrande is located next to el Centro, but not really walking distance, specially from the Hilton which is located at the end.. It is easy though to grab a taxi back and forth for about $3 to $4 each way. 

    • Uber is also an option, but have in mind it is illegal in Colombia. This means drivers expect you to sit in the front, and also that cops can and do stop cars at random to inspect. If they find you are using an Uber, they can take the car away and you will just need to get another car.   

Islas Del Rosario

  • Las Islas Del Rosario are a group of small keys/islands approximately 45 minutes aways from Cartagena on fast boat. They are beautiful, but also in some ways very primitive. 

  • There are few places on the islands where visitors can stay, but yet a broad variety of types to chose from; from luxury to hostels without power.  They all share limitations (Like no hot water) but you can find the differences on how comfortable their accommodations are, or how private their beaches are (if they are even water front).  For you, I have an option that is highly rated, has a very private beach, comfortable accommodations, and yet are relatively cheap compared to others in the area.  

  • Transportation is limited. Few companies offer shuttles to and from these places. Resorts usually offer their own option, for a little extra.  

  • Day trippers are very common. Many of these resorts sell day passes to visitors who just want to go for a day. I usually recommend staying for at least two nights if you have the time, but I can also show you options for just day trips if you want to spend more time in Cartagena. One thing to know is that day trippers only get about 4-5 hours on the islands. 

  • Once you are there, you can use your time to enjoy the island, explore around, and do extra activities like scuba diving, snorkeling, jet skies, island boat tours, and one that I highly recommend the night visit to the bioluminescent bay in Isla grande.  Swimming in it at night is an experience like no other. Unforgettable.  There are also some popular beaches like Cholon where you can go party, specially on Sunday, You can coordinate transportation options from the hotel. 

Beach Resort - Islas del Rosario - Two 2 nights 

  • I like to propose mid-high level tier resorts. More modern and comfortable than average. I can also propose and look for you cheaper, or hostel style places if desired.  

  • I have a couple in mind. We would just need to confirm dates to see which ones are available. 

  • It would be private rooms, with private private bathroom, living area. 

  • Beach front, pool, and plenty of space to unwind.

  • Located in la Isla Grande, the biggest of islands.  There, you can venture and explore outside the hotel. 

    • You can visit the small villages in the island

    • You can explore and check out other larger and better beaches, other activities. 

  • Some include breakfast, others all meals.  Some there might be a big suite for the three of you, or two rooms.  

  • Additional activities can be coordinated with hotel. 

Proposed Itinerary, Experiences, and Services 

  • Wednesday, November 13th 

    • Arrival - Pick up at the airport. ​ Look for driver with sign. Your name will be on sign.

      • Money exchange - It is recommended to have handy some local currency if possible. You can exchange some (Not all) money at the airport (airport does not have the best exchange rate), You can exchange the rest later in the city where the rate is usually better. ATMs offer the best rate, but be aware of your banks international and ATM charges.  You can also send yourself money via Western Union. Good option.   Most places do take credit cards, but cash is definitely needed specially in the islands, and with street vendors.

      • Arrival at the Hilton

      • After check-in​, take your time to settle in and get familiar with your surroundings, store, money exchange, etc. 

    • Afternoon Historic Biking Tour (2 hours)-  You guide will come pick you up at the hotel.  Biking around the city is the best way to be introduced to it. Our guide will show you key landmarks,  and places of interest (useful to determine what places to go back to on your own) tell you history and fun facts, and can tailor the route also based on your interests.   

    • Dinner - As part of our included concierge services, we will provide you recommendations, and make reservations upon request for you throughout your stay.    

  • Thursday to Saturday - November 14th to 16th (two nights)

    • 08:30 AM - Departure for the Islands.  Boats to the islands usually leave at this time from a local small port conveniently located between Bocagrande and El Centro, less than 5min cab drive.  

      • It is recommended to leave large luggage and bags at the hotel if possible. We can also  provide luggage storage services if needed.  Medium and small size bags should bot be a problem.

      • NOTE: We can also do this on different days.  I am thinking these dates so you can spend Saturday night in the city to go out.  We would just need to have one night before and one night after.  

    • During your time in the islands you can enjoy the ocean, the vibe, water sports, explore parts of the islands, eco tourism, etc. ​​​

      • ​​One activity I recommend is checking out the bioluminiscent lagoon at night. 

  • Saturday,  November 16th

    • 03:30 PM to 04:30 PM - Return from the Islands -  This is usually the time guests return from the islands. 

      • You might be able to return in the morning as well, if the resort can accommodate. If they don't and you still rather come back ​in the morning, we could organize it for you. 

      • You would be able to catch taxi back to the hotel from the pier. 

  • Sunday, November 17th 

    • Mud Volcano ​​​(3-4 . hours(- Private transportation to Totumo Volcano. This is a natural mud volcano where locals and tourist come together to enjoy its beneficial effects.  This is not for everyone, and don't expect fancy accommodations.  This is as raw and unique as it gets.  A unique and beautiful experience. 

      • I am thinking private transportation, so we can pick the time to leave and return. It gives you flexibility.  We can also do a tour early in the morning or early afternoon.  ​

  • Monday, November 18th 

    • Mangrove Net Fishing (7:30 am to 2PM)- Spend the day with a local fisherman, who will show you how they net fish in the shallow mangroves around the city, share with you his culture and community, and the impact of eco-tourism.  Throughout the journey, you will see a unique ecosystem, catch crabs, and fish your own lunch! Afterwards, join your guide to his home where they will cook a feast for all of you and spend the afternoon together. ​​

  • Tuesday, July 16th 
    • Airport Transfer - Our driver will be ready to pick you up at this time for your 1:10PM flight.  Let me know if you would prefer a different time.  

Additional Options for Activities

  • Beach Days - If you decide not to stay in the islands over night, we have other options for you to . enjoy the islands (BTW, you must go to the islands)

    • Private Boat - Your own captain and crew member to take you island hoping. We would ​give you recommendations and information on which beaches and islands to go to.

    • Private Car - Your own driver to take you to Playa Blanca. The only island and beach reachable by car. We would give you directions and all information you will need. 

    • Day Passes - Show you best options to spend the day at one of the island resorts, make reservations for you.   This would include transportation, and lunch.  

  • Coffee Roasting and Tasting  - Workshop. Fun and educational.  

  • Kayaking

  • Private Street Food tour - Eat your way through old town. Guided

  • Sunset Catamaran - cruise around the city, take in the views of the impressive skyline and sunset, enjoy a couple of complimentary drinks.

  • Private or Group Dance Classes

  • Museums - Free. No guide needed. I provide recommendations. 

  • Tour to Bazurto, local market - This is not for everyone. This market is large, full smells, colors, and lively local culture. Some might call it the real Cartagena.  

  • Colombian Rum Tasting​ (1hr - 1.5hrs) -  Try amazing rums, have some appetizers, and enjoy of an insightful and entertaining time. 
  • Bird Watching (2.5 hrs) - let us take you to mangroves and large swamps were migratory and local birds hangout. 
  • Stand Up Paddle at Sunset - Another great way to welcome the sunset while exploring another side of the city.  
  • Tour of the fortresses - Cartagena has two main fortresses (Castillos):
    • San Felipe - The largest and located in mainland. Just a walk or taxi away,  You can take audio tours. No need for guided tour.
    • Bocachica - Smaller but located in Tierra Bomba Island.  We offer a private tour to this one with transportation and guide.  
      ​​​

Additional Options for Itinerary

If staying in the islands is not for you, you have other options:

  • Tayrona Park - This is a very popular spot in the Colombian Caribbean coast.  Here you can hike and explore beautiful beaches.  You could pay to camp inside the park, or stay at a hotel right outside.

    • You would need at least two nights here. 

    • We can arrange transportation for you in collective shuttles (Vans), or your pwn private shuttle

    • The drive from/to Cartagena is about 5-6 hours

    • The closest airports/cities are:

      • Santa Marta - 1 hour from Tayrona , 4  from Cartagena

      • Barranquilla . - 3 hours from Tayrona, 2 from Cartagena     

  • The region where Cartagena is located is flat, so hiking is not really an option.  Outdoor activities there are more the islands, exploring mangroves, and visiting local communities like Palenque (the first community founded by free slaves in the Americas.   

Summary

The above package includes:

  • Airport shuttles

  • 2 night accommodation in Islas Del Rosario (Beach Resort)

    • All or some meals included

    • transportation included

  • Activities as noted  

    • Private Bike History Tour​

    • Private Mangrove Fishing Experience 

      • Bilingual guide included​

      • Lunch included

      • Transportation included

    • Mud Volcano (Private transportation)

      • Available also in group tour for lower cost​ 

  • Concierge services from the moment you book (i.g. reservation services, suggestions)

  • Our Cartagena Small Guide 

Estimated total at this point is $1720 (this is total, not per person)

We can add, change, or remove things. Take your time reviewing everything and let me know what you think. As I said before, we  can change this as much as you want until you are satisfied.  

THANK YOU