Arrival into Cartagena today from the U.S. Cartagena can be easily reached via nonstop flights from U.S. gateways such as New York, Miami, Atlanta and Ft. Lauderdale, as well as connecting service via Bogotá and Panama City.
With due respect to other contenders, Cartagena is without a doubt the crowning jewel of the Caribbean, and therefore is Colombia’s top destination. This stunning 16th-century Spanish fort city is superbly preserved with cobblestone streets filled with colorful colonial homes whose terraces overflow with lush bougainvillea flowers. Here, the climate is warm and tropical, so a leisurely three-night stay is often our recommendation.
Your private driver and English-speaking Exeter Latin America guide will welcome you just outside Customs for your private transfer to your deluxe hotel. We have a number of favorites in the walled city, and we’ll help you choose the right fit based on your travel style.
Evening at leisure, but we will gladly assist you with dinner recommendations and reservations if you’d like.
The colorful streets are made for exploration on foot, and as you walk around this morning, your guide will bring the history and legends of Cartagena to life as you stop at various important landmarks including the Clock Tower and the monument to Don Pedro de Heredia, who founded the city in 1533. Your guide will also point out some notable museums you may wish to visit during your stay, including the Gold Museum and the Museum of the Inquisition.
Free time for lunch and exploring.
If you were in Sonoma or Mendoza, you’d go wine tasting, so why not explore the iconic Caribbean spirit, rum, while in Cartagena? Late this afternoon, one of our favorite local bartenders will meet you for a look at (and taste of) different varieties of high-end rum, paired with chocolates. (This is a private experience lasting generally 60-90 minutes.)
Evening at leisure in Cartagena.
Further Exploration of Cartagena
This morning, you’ll leave the historic center and head first to the Popa Convent. Founded by Augustine fathers in 1607 atop a 492-foot hill–the highest point in Cartagena–the convent offers spectacular views of the entire city. Then, you’ll continue on to San Felipe de Barajas, the largest fort built by the Spanish in South America. You’ll have as much time as you like to explore the fortress with your guide, including its tunnels! Following the fortress, your guide and driver will take you on a panoramic drive around the city, including the modern area of Bocagrande as well as the nearby Getsemani quarter – just outside the old city, it’s currently home to some of the hottest new restaurants.
Or, we can organize additional activities for you (additional pricing varies) such as:
Meet up with food concierge to visit the main Bazurto market, followed by a private cooking lesson and lunch for a taste of coastal Colombian cuisine.
For shopaholics, a fashion specialist will get you special access to the top designers’ shops in Cartagena, featuring both Colombian and international designers.
Eat your way through Cartagena with tasting menus of typical dishes at four different restaurants. Or, do a street food tasting as you walk around the old city.
Learn about and ride unique Colombian paso fino horses along the beach.
On to Barú
After check-out, your private driver will pick you up for transfer to the port, where you’ll board a shared boat for transfer to your choice of luxury coastal hotel, either the rustic Las Islas or the family-friendly Sofitel Hotel Calablanca. (Boat size varies between 15-75 seats, depending on number of guests arriving that day.)
On arrival, check-in and then you’ll have the remainder of the day at leisure. Each hotel has a number of activities included, as well as variety of paid options including snorkeling and SCUBA diving excursions.
OPTIONAL UPGRADE: Skip the shared boat and instead spend the day aboard your own private motorboat (speedboat or yacht also available), cruising through the Rosario Islands and then arriving to Las Islas around 3 or 4 PM for checkin. Relax and watch the seawater as it changes color right in front of your eyes, stopping to swim and snorkel as much as you like, and enjoy snacks and drinks on board. This private transfer not only gives you a beautiful day on a private boat, but also allows you to arrive to your beach hotel for check-in when you choose.
Or, if you simply want a private boat transfer direct to the hotel, that can also be arranged. Finally, for those who get seasick and prefer to go by land, we can arrange a private land transfer (approx. 90 minutes) from Cartagena right out to your hotel. (Please inquire for additional costs.)
UPGRADE TO A PRIVATE VILLA: For a family or group of friends, we can instead offer the option of this private villa for up to 16 guests in Tierra Bomba, halfway between the Rosario Islands and Cartagena.
A Day in Barú
A day at leisure at Las Islas or Sofitel Calablanca resort.
Until Next TIme!
After check-out, you’ll have a boat transfer (shared with other guests) back to the Cartagena port. (Transfer duration approx. 45 minutes. Please verify transfer schedule with us before purchasing airfare, to ensure you have enough time to catch your flight.) Private boat transfer can be arranged at an additional cost.
Looking to spend some more time exploring the magical realism of Colombia? Here are three of our favorite ideas that can be easily combined with Cartagena and each other, for a longer trip of a week or more.
City lovers should head to Bogotá, the country’s bustling capital city. Here you’ll find a thriving dining and cocktail scene, rich colonial history, a vibrant arts scene, great shopping, charming park-filled neighborhoods, and beautiful boutique luxury hotels.
Head to the Quindío province of the Coffee Region, the heart and soul of Colombia. Enjoy a day learning about the coffee culture through visits to family-run farms, hiking among the soaring wax palms of the Corcora Valley, horseback riding, and relaxing at an exclusive hacienda-turned-boutique hotel set on a 500-acre ranch.
See the remarkable social transformation which Medellin has undergone, from drug cartel capital to revitalized city buzzing with energy. Our terrific guides are eager to show you just how far the city has come in the last decade.
Private Journey PricingPer Person
From Price Per Person
Deluxe Itinerary: 2 Guests Traveling Together
Deluxe Itinerary: 4 Guests Traveling Together
Premium Itinerary: 2 Guests Traveling Together
Premium Itinerary: 4 Guests Traveling Together
3 nights in Cartagena: Premium Balcony King room at Charleston Hotel Santa Teresa (Deluxe) or a Deluxe room at Casa San Agustin (Premium).
2 nights in a Seaview Bungalow with Private Pool at Hotel Las Islas or Luxury Double room at Sofitel Hotel Calablanca Barú. (Room upgrades or Private Villa in Tierra Bomba available at an additional cost.)
Private arrival and departure airport transfers (assumes all guests on same flights.) English-speaking guide included when specified in itinerary.
Private, local English-speaking guides in Cartagena, as described in the program.
Private air-conditioned vehicle for all included activities and transfers in Cartagena, with bottled water daily.
Boat transfers between Cartagena and Hotel Las Islas (shared with other guests).
Cost of entrance for all sights and experiences specifically included in your program.
24/7 local emergency contact during your journey.
Full-service advance tailoring of your itinerary and assistance with restaurant reservations.
Lunches, dinners and alcoholic beverages unless otherwise specified in your program.
Gratuities to guides, drivers, hotel porters, etc. unless otherwise specified in your program.
Travel or medical evacuation insurance.
Any other items or services not specifically included in your itinerary.
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