World Trip 2019: Classic Colombia Tour Review

Tour Title: Classic Colombia
Tour Company: G Adventures
Tour Leader:  Miguel Gonzalez
Cities Visited: Bogotá, Armenia, Salento, Medellín, Cartagena, Minca, Taganga, Tayrona, Santa Marta
Countries Visited: Colombia
Dates: 10 August 2019 to 25 August2019 (Duration 16 days)
Tour Type: Classic
Tour Itinerary (PDF)

Tour Type – Classic
G Adventures Description: All of the highlights, culture, access, and I-can’t-believe-we-did-that moments, all at a great price.

Physical Rating: 3 – Average: Some tours may include light hiking, biking, rafting, or kayaking in addition to walking.

The Chief Experience Officer (Tour Leader Miguel Gonzalez) assists you with almost everything you need. We had an additional local guides for specific activities for example when hiking in Tayrona National Park and different bus drivers.

The physical rating really reflected two activities which could be difficult, the Cocora Valley hike and the Tayrona National Park 5-6 hour hike.

Note this tour was a combination of two G Adventure Tours:

  1. Colombia Express (9 days)
  2. Caribbean Colombia Express (8 days – first day overlaps with last day of first tour)

Tour Members
The first stage of this tour had 11 members, 5 left after 9 days and 3 new members joined.

Tour members ranged from early 20s to late 50s / early 60s so there was a wide age range. Unusually the tour group had members from USA in the first week we also had Canadians, South Korean, Spanish, and Australians.

Included Activities

  • Coffee Farm Tour, Calarcá
  • Your Discover Moment: Cartagena Local Market
  • Hacienda stay
  • Cocora Valley hike
  • Medellín city tour
  • City tour in Cartagena
  • Tayrona National Park
  • Internal flights (Bogotá to Armenia review and Medellín to Cartagena review)
  • All transport between destinations and to/from included activities

Options
There are several options during this tour these are the ones I selected:

  • Armenia: Mi Monaco Farm Visit
  • Salento: Playing Tejo (Colombian traditional sport)
  • Medellín: Comuna (District) 13 tour – 60,000 pesos
  • Medellín: Replica town Peñol de Guatapé, Rock of Guatapé, Guatapé Town Tour – 110,000 pesos
  • Cartagena: Islas del Rosario National Park – Isla Bella – 195,000 pesos

Accommodation
Bogotá, Colombia – Hotel Dann (1 night)
I was supposed to start in the Hotel Regina but due to a booking error was moved to this sister hotel. Free and fast wifi available in my room, in the breakfast room and reception. TV with 40+ stations (almost all n Spanish) and good shower with hot water. Breakfast buffet was included and had a fair range of options.

Armenia, Colombia – Hosteria Mi Monaco (2 nights)
The Hostal Mi Monaco is a traditional hacienda (Spanish for “estate”) and is located on vast and beautiful grounds. The grounds include a nice pool with view and a spa. Room included a fan (no air conditioning), private bathroom, flat-screen TV (cable). Wifi was available in some rooms but was really on reliable from the pool and restaurant area. Breakfast was included with several ordering options (not a buffet).

Salento, Colombia – Hotel Salento Real (1 night)
This hotel is located 10 minute walk to town centre (walking up and down street inclines). The room included a minibar (with room to put drinks), shower, safety deposit Box, iron, private bathroom, flat-screen TV (cable) and air conditioning. Wifi was available in rooms. Breakfast was included with several order options plus self serve cereals and fruits.

Medellín, Colombia – Hotel Florencia Plaza (3 nights)
A very nice hotel centrally located about 15 minute walk to metro station, less than 5 minute walk to major supermarket (includes money exchange in supermarket) and near night life. The room included a minibar, shower, safety deposit box, telephone, air conditioning, private bathroom, flat-screen TV, key card, free wifi available in room. American breakfast that includes juices, fruits, eggs, cereals and pancakes. A Laundry service next door was reasonable as they delivered back to hotel who put laundry back in your room.

Cartagena, Colombia – Hotel Cartagena Royal Inn (3 nights)
Small boutique hotel located close to the old town city centre. The room included a minibar (with room to put drinks), shower, safety deposit Box, iron, private bathroom, flat-screen TV (cable) and air conditioning. You have to book your breakfast the day before with a good range of options including American, English and Spanish breakfast. Breakfast is taken on 4th floor terrace with great views of the city. Hotel is located on a one way street so if being dropped off you have to move quickly as there is no stoping point. Supermarket, Pharmacy and general shops in same street as the hotel.

Minca, Colombia – Hotel Minca La Casona (1 night)
Nice classical hotel in this formerly remote area. The room included a fan, wardrobe and a private bathroom (with hot water), a shower and toilet. Wifi available throughout the complex (medium speed). The restaurant area overlooks a vast green landscape with hummingbirds flying around. Breakfast was included with several options that can be ordered (not a buffet). Property also has a small pool however no one used this pool.

Taganga, Colombia – Hotel Ocean Taganga (1 night)
Nice hotel not far from the beach however lots of road construction to walk around. Free Wifi available in room. TV, shower (no hot water) and air conditioning (very much needed). Breakfast was included which you ordered taking around 10 minutes to be prepared. One day turn around laundry service provided by the hotel.

Tayrona, Colombia- Posada Villa Margarita (2 nights)
Beautiful villa style property with great view of the oceans and close to Tayrona National Park. Room included private bathroom with shower (hot and cold water), balcony outside room with seating to look at nature around the hotel, fan (but no air conditioning in this warm area), and mosquito net (needed). Breakfast included. Steep climb from the parking area to get to reception.

Santa Marta, Colombia – Hotel Tayromar (1 night)
Beautiful and centrally located hotel which only 5 minute walk to night life. The room included a minibar, shower, safety deposit box, telephone, air conditioning (very much needed), private bathroom, flat-screen TV, key card, free fast wifi available in room. Nice crafts market just across the street from hotel. Breakfast was included but I had to leave to early to try it out.

Tour Leader
Miguel Gonzalez has been a Chief Experiemce Officer (CEO) with G Adventures for 2 years and recently was nominated as best tour leader in company for Colombia. Miguel had a lot experience in tourism industry from before he worked for G Adventures.

I had several issues during this tour starting with hotel booking on first night being lost, having my wallet stolen and some minor health issues at the midway point of the tour. Miguel helped me with all of these issues and in my opinion went over and above an excellent tour leader.

For the optional activities Miguel organised great local guides and support services in particular the guide for Medellín District 13 optional tour was outstanding. When of the best G Adventures Chief Experience Officers I’ve had.

Highlights
There were many highlights for me;

    the coffee farm experience in Armenia (Recuca Coffee Farm),
    Cocora Valley Hike (near Salento),
    playing Tejo in Salento,
    Comuna (District) 13 tour in Medellín,
    climbing the Rock of Guatapé,
    the Caribbean Sea experience at the Islas del Rosario National Park near Cartagena, and
    the invigorating Tayrona National Park Hike.
  • Plus the 4WD rides in the remote areas were a lot of fun as well assuming you don’t mind bouncing around with big falls if the vehicle goes off the road!
  • A number of these highlights were options so I would obviously recommend these options and was glad to have done them.

    Tips
    Allow for optional activities, ensure you are careful with your belongings (given I had a wallet stolen) and keep back up funds. Download offline maps for easier navigation (I used maps.me). You will need mosquito repellent and flip flops from half way point of the tour and sun screen after leaving Bogotá.

    Summary
    This was an amazing trip. While I had several logistical and health issues the actual sights and cultural experience were outstanding. The colour and positive vibes were infectious. You can see and emerging middle class in Colombia and definitely a lot of pride as this country shakes of recent and long term political and drug related violence.

    I didn’t know what to expect when booking this trip but it turned out to be a very memorable trip with strong infrastructure supporting tourist to see stunning nature of this beautiful country.

    Blog Entries.

    About Nathan

    An Australian World traveler who has been fortunate enough to experience 70 countries so far. https://nathanburgessinsights.com/travel/
    This entry was posted in Travel, World Trip 2019 and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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