​Ursula Hosting, 2019

Jay does Cartagena

January/February 2020

Hello My Friend, 

I would like to present to you a high level proposal sample for your trip to Cartagena.  This how your trip could look like including examples of accommodations, activities, list of what would be included, etc.   

 

This is very high level, but it shows a good estimate. Please take a look and tell me what you think, initial reactions, questions, comments, etc.   

Some things to have in mind:

  • The time we are looking at, January-February, is within the high season in Cartagena, Therefore, prices are higher than usual. Still, not too bad for our first world prices.

  • Many places don't have their prices updated yet, so I am using a couple of estimates based on costs from last high season. In other words, some might be higher, some might be lower.  Again this is an estimate, once we have a date, we can refine prices. Nevertheless, if different, it should not be by much.

  • Since you are hoping to keep it under $2000, I stayed within 8 nights.  Let me know if you would be interested in adding more days and I can look into other destinations like: Costeño BeachParque Tayrona, Minca, Santa Marta

For your trip (8 nights), I am recommending to spend five nights in Cartagena and three in the Rosario Islands.  I am suggesting the following:

  • 4 nights in Cartagena

  • 3 nights in the islands

  • 1 (last) night in Cartagena

 Please take a look and let me know of any questions, comments, or suggestions you may have.

Accommodations - Cartagena

  • I always recommend options located in the historic area of the city which is formed by two smaller area,  El Centro, and Getsemani (See Map)

  • El Centro is the main area. the most traditional and classy.  Larger colonial houses, plazas, and hotels are located here.  As well as the main churches, museums, and shops.

  • Getsemani a bit more residencial/less affluent than El Centro. You can still see locals living in there, but it's become the hip part of town. Many call it the Brooklyn of Cartagena. Full of small bars, new boutique hotel, clubs, graffiti art, younger crowds. Some of my favorite restaurants, cafes, and bars are located here. 

Private Apartment ​(Centro Historico) - First 4 nights 

  • We can find small apartments like these under this pricing. 

    • We can always look for better options if you think we can increase budget.

    • Many of them are not advertising yet, or posted prices for high season. These in particular are, but will usually be the first ones to go.  

    • Once you have dates, I can inquire about actual availabilities and prices. 

  • Private, comfortable and cozy, but not luxurious.  Spacious but with all amenities.  Nice views.

  • Well located. Center of the old town. Walking distance to coffee shops, restaurants, plazas, and more. 

Beach Resort - Islas del Rosario - Three nights

  • Under this budget we could do a resort like this one.  We can also go lower to save money; something more like a hostel, or higher; a bit more exclusive.   

  • This one in particular is one of the best in the islands. More modern and comfortable than most. 

  • Room would be a suite, private bathroom, living area

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

  • It located in la Isla Grande, so you can venture and explore outside the hotel.  These islands are small, but Isla Grande has a small town, some public beach areas, and more to explore.

  • In this one, all meals are included, which would make a big difference. 

  • Once in the islands, you can choose to do activities like scuba diving, snorkeling, island hopping, and even (my favorite) go to the bioluminescent lagoon in the middle of the night!  These activities can be coordinated with hotel. 

Boutique Hotel - One (last) night  

  • I think spending the last night (specially after three days in the islands) in a cute boutique hotel would be a good idea.   Long hot shower, restaurants near by, rooftop, and more first world perks. 

  • Big and spacious rooms. King size beds. Restaurant service in rooftop and first floor lounge. 

  • Breakfast included.

  • Very Centrally located

  • We can also look for something more luxurious or basic if you want to reduce on cost. 

Information on Islas Del Rosario (Rosario Islands)

  • 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 of them. From luxury to hostels without power.  They all share limitations (Like 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).  (I'd found you an option that is highly rated, with private beach, comfortable accommodations, etc. Like the one above or similar)

  • Transportation is limited. Few companies offer shuttles to and from these places. Resorts usually work with one in particular, the cost is extra, and there is usually just one time available. My estimate already includes transportation cost. 

  • Day trippers are very common. These resorts sell day passes to visitors who just want to go for the day. I try to recommend places that assign places for day trippers, which means no fighting for space or chairs at the beach with them, and only sell a specific number of passes.  Those are big pluses. You should not be bothered by them.     

    • If you rather not stay in the islands, but just visit for the day, I would look into options for you.

  • Once you are there, please work with their staff to arrange extra activities: scuba diving, snorkeling, jet skies, island boat tours, and one that I highly recommend is the night visit to the bioluminescent bay in Isla grande.  Swimming in it at night is an experience like no other. Unforgettable. 

Possible Itinerary and Experiences 

  • Day One 

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

      • Money exchange - It is recommended to have some local currency if possible. You can exchange some (Not all) money at the airport.  Airport does have the worst 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.

    • Check in and settle into home for the next days. 

    • After check-in​, Maybe take time to get familiar with your surroundings, stores, money exchange, etc. 

    • 04:00 PM Walking (or Biking) City History Tour -  You guide will come pick you up. This walk will help you learn the lay out of the city, see main areas (in case you want to go back) and simply be introduced to the city. ​ She(he) would share history and fun facts, but also can adapt the route based on your interests. 

    • Dinner / Lunches / Free Time - We will send recommendations for you, and make reservations as requested for any night during the trip.   ​​​​I have also created a list with suggestions for things to do, places to visit, restaurants, and bars I will share with you.

  • Day Two

    • 09:00 AM - Private Bazurto Market Tour​  - This is a real as it gets. The local market where the city gets its produce, meats, and everything else in between.  It is becoming more popular among tourists but it is not for everyone yet.  it is beautiful and colorful, but also raw and unapologetic. Not upgraded to comfort.  It is an unforgettable experience, and we have the best guide for the job! 

    • In the afternoon, you could rest after lunch, and then perhaps check out the Castillo de San Felipe later in the afternoon, or walk around the markets in Old Town. 

    • Late Afternoon - Dance Class -  Why not learn some moves or dust off your old ones early in the trip.  Prepare for some fun nights later in the trip! 

  • Day Three

    • Free Morning - Check out plazas, museums, churches, etc.  I am also available to provide additional recommendations and reservations as needed. 

    • Afternoon- Rum Tasting - Meet others traveling and interested in some good Colombian rum. Learn about the making process, the industry, and try some while making new friends. 

  • Day Four
    • 08:00 AM Net Fishing - This experience is the perfect opportunity to connect with the local people and sharing their way of life.  First, we drive 20 minutes outside the city, far from the colonial and modern architecture.  Modest neighborhood with dirt roads, small houses.  Here, a local guide will explain the importance Eco tourism within the community.  Once there, get into a canoe and begin our journey through the mangroves. Then fishing begins by collecting crabs; then learn how to use the fishing nets, and then catch some fish (lunch).   Afterwards, head to the house of the fishermen, where their family will await with a wood oven ready to prepare a traditional lunch, with the fresh catch! ​

  • Day Five / Six/ Seven 

    • 08:30 AM - Departure for the Islands. Head to Muelle La Bodeguita, There you will catch your shuttle.   After  45min ride, you would be arriving at your resort. Away from civilization for full . three days!!!   Enjoy the island life!  

  • Day Eight

    • 03:00 to 04:30 PM - Return from the Islands -  You would be returning into the city around this time. We could either have this be a free evening so you can play by ear, or schedule you a nice low key activity to enjoy your last evening in town.

      • 05:00 PM Sunset Catamaran Cruise Cocktail (2 hrs) - This would be a good option.  We would just need to confirm your return time from the islands once we have a place selected. Some offer a morning return.  This would be a perfect way to end the afternoon and enjoy the city's skyline.  Sunsets in Cartagena are beautiful, and this is the best seat in the house. Cocktail, appetizers, and a glass of wine is included.​

  • Day Nine 
    • 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

We can also look into other activities if you have something else in mind

  • Mud Volcano - Transportation and entrance to Totumo (Mud Volcano)  

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

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

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

  • Bird Watching (2.5 hrs) - let us take you to mangroves and large swamps were migratory and local birds hangout. 
  • Stand Up Paddling at Sunset - Another great way to welcome the sunset while exploring another side of the city.  
    ​​​

Summary

A package like the one above, would include:

  • 4 night accommodation in Cartagena (Private Apartment) 

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

    • All meals included

  • 1 night accommodation in Cartagena (Boutique hotel)

    • breakfast included​

  • Airport transportation 

  • Activities as noted  

    • City Tour​

    • Market Tour

    • Dance Class

    • Rum Tasting

    • Net Fishing

    • Sunset Cocktails

  • Transportation to and from the islands  

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

  • Guides of the city, and other recommendations upon request.  

The estimated total for this trip is $1919.   If you decide to move forward, we would need to:

  1. Confirm dates

  2. Confirm itinerary

  3. Look for availability of accommodations

  4. Estimate new price based on accommodations

  5. 50% downpayment to secure accommodations

  6. Tailor and define activities - make reservations

  7. Complete payment at least one month prior to Trip.

Take your time reviewing everything and let me know what you think. We have time to create the perfect Cartagena vacation for you. Nevertheless, the earlier we confirm dates and secure places the better, as prices will go up the closer we get to those dates.

THANK YOU

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