We can't wait to go back!
My partner and I just returned from a one week all-inclusive trip to Cartagena, Colombia. We booked through Go Travel Direct and stayed at the Hotel Caribe (4 star resort). We had a wonderful time and we are already talking about going back.
The hotel is quite old but it is well taken care of. Our room was nice and had lots of character. It had the basics - king size bed, television, small table and chairs, stocked mini fridge ($$), room safe, closet, washroom.
The pool is large and kept very clean with plenty of lounge chairs surrounding it. Beside the pool area is the main restaurant which serves a buffet meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The food was quite good. We ate mostly at the buffet but decided to eat at the BBQ/grill restaurant one night. There is also a fancier restaurant which we didn't try. We never went hungry - there was always plenty to choose from.
The resort itself is unlike other resorts I have been to. For instance, if there was an entertainment team, they certainly didn't make much of an effort to keep the guests busy/entertained - which I think is a good thing. Guests were left on their own to relax by the pool or participate in tours or explore on their own. Also, although the resort is very close to the beach, it is not a beach resort. Most beaches in South America are public and the fact that Cartagena is a popular vacation destination for South Americans means that the beaches are busy. Vendors rent chairs out on the beach and sell whatever they can to make a few extra bucks. We took a walk along the beach one day but didn't spend much time there during our stay.
We chose to take 2 tours offered through Go Travel Direct. The Old City Tour was our favourite. We saw the giant wall that surrounds the old city, the fortress, and a monastery which is the highest point in the city. We got a good sense of the layout of Cartagena and saw some interesting historical sites. The other tour we took was the Mud Volcano Tour. The Totumo volcano is dormant and people can visit and bathe in the mud in the volcano. I decided not to go in but my partner did and he enjoyed it.
We spent a great deal of time wandering around the old part of the city exploring. We took a cab to and from our hotel which was only about $4000 pesos ($2 US) each way. Cartagena was very safe and the locals were extremely friendly. We shopped, visited the museum of modern art, saw a lot of beautiful old buildings, and enjoyed dinner out at nice restaurants a couple of nights.
There were a lot of vendors everywhere we went but we just said 'no thank you' and they left us alone. Some people may find this annoying but we just got used to it.
We found that the majority of locals did not speak much or any English. And we do not speak Spanish - but we managed to get by. It was a challenge but also kind of fun.
All in all we had a wonderful experience. The weather was fantastic and we loved exploring. Towards the end of our stay we felt familiar with the city and we were sad to leave.
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