®

Cartagena (Colombia)

From wiki.travel.com

Jump to: navigation, search

For Hotel Reservations Worldwide, Call 24/7 to TRAVEL.COM: From US/Canada - 800-329-6117 / From Europe - 00-800-1120-1140

wiki.travel.com


Cartagena [1] is a city in Bolivar, Colombia.

Understand

The city was one of the first sanctuaries of freed African slaves in the Americas and is currently populated by an ethnic mix representative of Colombia's own variety.

Cartagena, located on Colombia's northern coast and facing the Caribbean Sea, is the most visited city in the country by tourists. It gets extremely crowded in the December holidays and the holy week, when schools are out and most Colombians take their vacations. The city has basically two main parts where tourists go: the walled colonial city ("ciudad amurallada"), which is truly amazing and has many fancy restaurants, clubs and hotels; and a long strip of hotel towers and condos fronting onto the beach, known as Bocagrande. It is also nice to visit the exclusive neighborhood of Castillogrande, filled with recently built condos, places to jog, and a quiet beach to soak up some sun.

Get in

By Plane

Rafael Nuñez International Airport (IATA: CTG) (ICAO: SKCG) receives international flights from Panama City (Aero Republica, COPA and Aires[2]), Lima (LAN Peru), Fort Lauderdale (Spirit Airlines), Caracas (Aerorepública) and Miami (Avianca) and domestic non-stop flights from Medellín, Cali, San Andrés and Bogotá. Cartagena is 1000 km north of Bogotá (about an hour by air), or a 2.5 hour flight from Miami and five to five and a half hours from New York City.

To get to the old city, negotiate with the cab driver before getting into cab. The price should be around 8000 pesos or so. As of November 2009, rate from airport to El Laguito is $15,800 pesos prepaid outside arrivals hall. This is definitely overpriced and is gouging the newly arrived tourist. To get into town even more cheaply, walk about 150 feet to the street and hail one of yellow cabs. You should be able to get a cab to take you into town for about 5000 - 7000 pesos but offer the driver 5000 pesos to start...Leo Berndt

By bus

The bus terminal is 6 km east of the old city. Frequent White and Green metrocar buses with air conditioner go to the old city and cost COP$ 1,700. Buses leave every hour for Barranquilla, and from there frequent buses connect to Santa Marta[3]. The asking price for buses to Medellin is $50 USD, but it is normal to barter the price down to $30. All long distance bus tickets are expected to be bartered down.

If you are coming overland from Panama your first bus will be from Turbo. Turbo to Monteria is COP$ 25,000, 4 hours, Monteria to Cartagena COP$ 35,000, 4 hours. (These are express services.)

By boat

Cartagena is an important port for charter boats between Colombia and Panama. There are several private boats doing that trip. Fare varies between US$375 and US$400 depending on size of the boat and on-board services. The trip usually takes 4 nights and 5 days and includes a 2 days stopover in San Blas Islands. At the Panama end, the boats either leave from the Portobelo Area or from Carti Islands Kuna Yala rather than Colón. Reliable information about departure dates and captains can be found at the hotel Casa Viena [4](See Sleep), at Zulys Backpackers Hostel[5], Mamallena Hostel[6] or Luna's Castle Hostel [7] in Panama City, or at Hostel Wunderbar in Puerto Lindo in Panama [8] in San Blas Islands/ Kuna Yala panama [9] and trip ( 4x4) to carti Panama Expect to have to wait several days to find a boat. Or see boat section here [[10]]

Get around

The old town in particular is best explored Walking. Most places in Bocagrande are also within walking distance.

To reach other destinations such as the San Felipe fort, there are many buses running all over the city. Ask the driver or other people who are waiting which bus goes to your destination.

Taxis are generally easy to find, although in the old town you may have to walk a few blocks away from the center, toward the wider road close to wall. From the old town to Boca Grande or vice versa or any transport inside Bocagrande or inside old town expect to pay COP $4,500; from the airport to the old town or vice versa is COP$8,000 or $9,000 at night, with air conditioning. Important: negotiate your fare before getting in the taxi. Taxi drivers may demand ridiculous rates if not negotiated in advance. There are printed fares, but they are more like minimum fares. Even negociated rates are often higher, especially in high season.

A Chariot is a popular way for tourists to get to know the old town. These can be flagged down in the street or there are usually some waiting at the Plaza Bolivar or close to the Santa Clara hotel.

Cartagena has several harbours for Boats going out to the Islas del Rosario and Playa Blanca, including the Muelle Turistico de la Bodeguita, Muelle Todomar.

See

Do

Playa Blanca is widely regarded as the best beach of Cartagena, but is not that easy to reach. With its white sand and crystal clear water it is probably one of the best beaches in Colombia. After tour-boats leave in the afternoon it is also very peaceful and quiet. It is worth staying on Playa Blanca for at least one night. There are several places where you can rent hammocks, get food and drinks. For example “Wittenbergs place”. On the beach you will be approached to buy massages, fruit platters, sea food and jewelry among other things. Look out for the vendors selling oysters: they will give you an oyster as a present (regalo) to taste. They will quickly crack the shells and serve you a number of oysters, after which you are told that they each cost 2,000 pesos. Avoid this 30,000 peso charge and the subsequent argument on the beach. If you are looking for great seafood and Coco Locos, ask around for Nelson Mandela.

By boat Take a bus or taxi to “Mercado Bazurto”, the big market of Cartagena about 10 minutes from the Center. From there, every day, except Sundays, small cargo-boats (lancha de carga) leave for Playa Blanca. They don´t have an exact departure time, be there before 9AM to be sure. You will have to pay about 20.000 pesos each way(diciembre 2008) and the trip takes more or less 1 hour to reach the beach.The way back is much easier, most boats (tourboats) will bring you back for arround 15.000 pesos. Keep in mind that the last boats from Playa Blanca to Cartagena leave around 2-3PM! More comfortable and safer is taking a roundtrip from the center at Muelle de las Pegasos. You can bargain down a one-way-trip without lunch to about 25.000 Pesos plus 8.300 port tax. The tour takes you to Rosario Islands first until it reaches Playa Blanca in the late morning. You can leave the tour there to stay overnight.

Overland by public transport (2-3 tough hours): 1. Bus to Pasacaballos – 2. ferry or canoe to cross “Canal del Dique” – 3.on the other side you take any kind of transport to Santa Ana (bus,jeep,mototaxi) 4.from Santana further on to Playa Blanca there are buses,jeeps or mototaxis - if you like it cheap try to reach Santana until 9 a.m ,later on the only bus is gone and you have to take a mototaxi for 12.000 pesos which you actualy can take already once your crossed the "Canal del Dique", Its about 2 hours walking distance from Santana to Playa Planca. Fare all together around 3.500 pesos or 12.000 pesos if you take a moto taxi once you crossed te "canal del Dique"

Buy

Eat

Cartagena features a rich fusion cuisine, combining ingredients and methods of the New and Old worlds, as well as of the original African, Arabian and other legacies of its inhabitants. Eating set menu lunches and dinners in local restaurants costs around COP$4,000 pesos ($2). A typical dish consists of fried fish (if you are by the beach), chicken or meat, served with coconut rice (arroz de coco), fried plantains (patacones) and salad. There are many places that sell $1 fruit juices. Colombia boasts a very good range of exotic fruits that can be mixed with water or milk.

In the old town, dozens of good restaurants can be found dotted around the streets. They are particularly concentrated close to the Plaza Santo Domingo in El Centro, such as:

There are also several around the smaller but more intimate San Diego Plaza next to the Santa Clara hotel and include:

Drink

Sleep

In the ciudad amurallada, the most famous hotels are Sofitel Santa Clara and Charleston Santa Teresa, both old monasteries renovated in the 90s. Either of them have fabulous facilities - expect prices like Monaco. Otherwise, the newest part of the city, Bocagrande, offers the largest number of hotels of all prices. You should always try to stay in the ciudad amurallada, since this is what makes Cartagena unique, rather than its beaches, which are normally too crowded and not really clean. If you cannot afford the five-star hotels, you may try with colonial houses turned into hostels, but they are rather small and sometimes getting a room there may be a matter of luck.

Budget

Budget hotels and hostels can be found in Getsemaní around the Calle de la Media Luna. If you're already in Cartagena just walk along the Calle de la Media Luna and check out the numerous hostals to get an impression of their offering. You'll notice that the 'value for money' differs heavily between the places, even though they're next to each other: For 50,000 pesos you can either stay in a really nice private double room or in a dodgy dorm.


Mid-range


Splurge

Up-scale hotels can be found in San Diego and El Centro area of the old city.

Stay safe

Watch out for the "Money-Changing-Magicians"

Those street vendors offer you a very good exchange rate. After you have counted the money you will recognize that a small amount is missing, and after complaining he will put exactly that amount on top again. In the same move they will take some big notes from the bottom. Most people won't count their money a second time, and first think they made a good deal but in fact got ripped off. Be very careful when walking at night specially around lonely parts of the city.

Tips for Currency Exchange and Retrieving Pesos from ATM machines. Most hotels, upscale restaurants take credit cards, but many places, especially taxis only accept Colombian pesos. The banks do not exchange currency. The easiest method for obtaining pesos is to use your debit card at an ATM machine. Another option is to use a Cambio or curreny exchange kiosk, however, your exchange rate will be a little higher than by using a debit card. Using a credit card at the ATM machine will require you to use a PIN number, so contact your financial institution before your trip.

Taking a walk

When in the Old City do not walk outside the walls after dark, and remember that it is a large city, so just use common sense. The street vendors can be very annoying, but a simple "No quiero nada" in Spanish will keep them away.

Dodgy tours to Islas del Rosario and Playa Blanca

The tours offered to visit Islas del Rosario and Playa Blanca can be quite a let down. You'll be offered a price for a tour which "includes" either snorkeling or entrance to the aquarium and a meal at Playa Blanca for about 50,000 pesos. Once on the trip you find out that you have to pay extra for the aquarium or the snorkeling - 15,000 pesos. Make sure the tour guides on the boat are told by the person who sold the tour what is included in order to avoid disagreements. The best way to book a tour is going inside the marina and avoiding the "sales" people outside. They are getting a cut for the sales and have no responsibility to you. Once inside ask for Elizabeth (known lovingly as La negra Liz"). She owns several boats, will give you the best price, and most importantly her word. You can rent your own small boat for COP 700.000 or secure a seat for COP 75.000. Ask them before hand about the itinerary. Her company in particular has its own "resort" in the Rosario Islands. The resort is clean, nice and has good food for a reasonable price. Unfortunately, their beach access is limited and less than spectacular. Her boats will insist on taking you there, but you have a choice. Playa blanca is by far the best beach, but it can be overwhelming with the locals trying to sell you their products. More upscale destinations include the Baru Island and private resorts owned by the big hotels (Santa Clara, Santa Teresa). In most, you are allowed to spend the day at the beach. Every tour boat has their own agenda.

Get out

The easiest way to get there is to take a tour. These cost around COP$30,000 with Rafael Perez tours (next door to the Cartagena Plaza Hotel in Bocagrande) and include the one hour each way journey to the volcano, as well as lunch and a swim at La Boquilla on the return to Cartagena. Another tour company is Los Pinos, which also charges COP$35,000 (or $25,000 without lunch) and uses the Manzanillo del Mar fishing village for a swim on the return journey. This tour can be booked from many hotels, such as the Casa Viena, in Calle San Andrés (Getsemaní), 5-664-6242. Although the mud bath and massages are offered free of charge, you will be expected to tip anyone who helped you before your bus leaves. Other services expecting tips include storing your belongings, your shoes, holding onto your camera and taking snaps while you are immersed in the mud, and the women who help you wash off in the laguna. Tips of between COP$1,000 and $5,000 for each person are the norm, depending on the service. Be sure to bring change.
Going by yourself is quite a hassle, but you may find you have the whole volcano to yourself and can take all the time you want. Take a bus from the city center to Terminal de transporte (COP$1,700). There, take the hourly bus to Galerazamba and get off at Lomito Arena (COP$6,000). From there it is 45 minute walk or take a motortaxi (COP$2,000). The whole trip takes about two-and-half hours. The last bus back from Lomito Arena leaves around 3pm.
A pleasant escape from the city rush, 18 km out of Cartagena close to “Turbaco”, a small town 20 km from the center of Cartagena. Take a bus to the bus terminal and get of at “la Bomba de Amparo”, a big gasolin station 25 minuits out of the center.from there, are leaving buses to “Turbaco”- get off (ask the driver)a bit before Turbaco and walk to the right,about 20 minuits straight on. Together with your entry ticket you get leaflet which lists about 250 plants identified in the gardens, including some varieties of coca plants.
A fishing village 10 minutes by boat on the island of “Tierrabomba”,in front of “Laguito” (Bocagrande).You reach it by boats (lanchas),leaving from “Muelle de los Pegasos” or with boats in “Laguito” next to the Hilton Hotel. Punta Arena has probably the nicest beaches close to Cartagena. There are restaurants where you can get food and drinks. Enjoy a day, hanging out under palm trees with a fantastic few on the skyline of Cartagena.
Take a bus for COP$ 1100(july 2009), from India Catalina (Avenida Venezuela), if you get off of the bus at the end of the ride you can rent a canoe which brings you to a nice beach (playa de oro) passing trough lagoons and mangroves – pay for the boat once you are back.
Bocachica is worth to visit to see its restored fortress (fuerte de San Fernando). The beach isn't really special but o.k to hang out for some hours .you find several open air restaurant serving food and drinks.
Local boats leave during the day every 30-45 minutes from "Muelle de los Pegassos". The boat ride takes about 15 minutes. Guides will try to sell you expensive “all included” trips to Bocachica but you should pay just the local fare. (in july 2009 - COP$5,000 pesos – one way) Once you ask for the price it will get more expensive.

Related Information




---
A list of contributors is available at the original article on Wikitravel. Additional modifications may have been made by users at TRAVEL.COM [17].

Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply.

Personal tools


Main Page | Random Page | Special Pages
Africa | Asia | Caribbean | Central America | Europe
Middle East | North America | Oceania | South America | Other Destinations