To be allowed in Colombia you must have a valid passport that contains two full blank pages and must be valid for 6 months following your arrival in Colombia. For European and U.S. residents no visa is required. If you are a citizen of other countries, please read about visa requirements and other important details at www.colombia.travel/en/practical-information/visa or contact the closest Colombian consulate in your country of origin for more information about visa requirements.
Your package does not include airfare. Your destination airport is “Rafael Nunez” Cartagena International Airport (CTG). Depending on where you live, you should fly out no later than February 9th to arrive by February 10th in Cartagena. Jetblue flies directly to Cartagena’s “Rafael Núñez” airport from JFK and Fort Lauderdale. American Airlines flies directly to Cartagena from Miami and Spirit Airlines flies directly to Cartagena from Dallas and Ft Lauderdale. Many other airlines in the U.S. have direct flights to Bogotá, Colombia’s capital city, El Dorado International Airport (BOG). From there, you can catch a quick, one hour flight to Cartagena. We recommend Avianca Airlines for domestic travel within Colombia.
The mansion in Cartagena’s Old City where we’ll be staying has WiFi in the social areas. In case of emergency or need, you can be easily reached by WhatsApp or any other communication app based on WiFi access. We will also provide you with a local Colombian phone number of a phone that will be permanently in the mansion.
There are shops in Cartagena where you may pay to make calls or use the internet. Many cellular companies offer special international plans. There is also an option to get a local Sim Card. Let us know if you’d like to get one and we’ll have it for you at a low additional cost. We encourage you, however, to ‘unplug’ from and allow yourself to fully immerse in the “Outer & Inner Adventure” experience.
Cartagena tourism is touted by all the major US travel magazines and was recently featured in the Travel Section of the New York Times. As for safety in the streets, there is a lot of security, especially in the areas where our adventure will be held. One has to take precautions against pickpockets in the popular tourist areas just as you would in any tourist destination. As you will notice, there are important social differences among residents in Cartagena and in all of Colombia. While Cartagena is one of Colombia’s most beautiful cities, it can also be one of the poorest for much of the native, local population. Therefore, we encourage you to be as discreet as possible when it comes to wearing jewelry, carrying expensive phones, computers, etc. on the streets.
It is neither necessary, nor advisable, to rent a car in Cartagena. We have arranged for safe, reliable and haggle-free transport from and to the airport, as well as for all scheduled activities. For any optional outings you may choose during free time, we are happy to assist you with arranging transport (these would be at your own expense). There are plenty of inexpensive taxis all around the city. The mansion where we will be staying is located right in the Old Walled City, with many destinations within walking distance.
Cartagena is located close to the equator and has a tropical climate. Generally, Cartagena has hot, sunny days, with temperatures averaging in the mid- to upper- 80’s (with about the same level of humidity), and cools off slightly at night. February is a very pleasant month here because there are fresh breezes coming from the north. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere you will rejoice in escaping winter weather in this tropical paradise!
We will have filtered water at the mansion, always available for your use. It is advisable to drink filtered or bottled water. You can use tap water to brush your teeth but not to drink. Likewise, you are best to stick with drinking bottled water in restaurants and avoiding ice. Some schools of thought also advise against drinking juice as it may be diluted with water. Use your best judgment since one of the greatest pleasures in all of Colombia is the natural, fresh fruit juices. To minimize plastic bottle waste, we recommend bringing your own stainless steel refillable water bottle (or two) like the ones made by Healthy Human or Hydroflask, available online and at most outdoor recreation stores like REI. It’s important to stay hydrated and drink LOTS of water.
To immunize or not to immunize… that is the question. Ultimately it is a personal decision and only you know what is best for you. The following are simply our personal recommendations, which you may choose to follow or not. We cannot make guarantees about the need for immunizations. You will be traveling in civilized, built-up areas, so even though your doctor may suggest all kinds of things for traveling in the jungle, please impress upon him/her that you are staying in civilized areas and eating at (really!) good restaurants.
To have the most benefit, see a health-care provider at least 4–6 weeks before your trip to allow time for your vaccines to take effect. The most common illnesses in Colombia are acute altitude sickness, stomach problems, and in remote jungle areas malaria and yellow fever (which we will not be visiting during this adventure). This information corresponds to current information from the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Colombiawww.minsalud.gov.co. If you take immunizations, Tetanus, Yellow Fever and Hepatitis A and B are recommended.
If you take prescription medicines, you might want to bring a prescription of Keflex, Z-Pak, or another type of oral antibiotic that can help with stomach ailments or infections. Even though you will be eating homemade food and in very good restaurants, there is always a chance that you can get stomach discomfort. Please choose what best suits your preferences. There is easy access to pharmacies in Cartagena. More detailed information can be found on www.colombia.travel/en
There are a few good hospitals in Cartagena. If you have a minor illness or ailment, you will be just fine. These clinics usually do not accept health insurance, but they do not cost much. Should you need specialized care in a dire emergency, you would need to be evacuated to back to the U.S. or your home country. If you are currently under a Physician’s care, please consult with him/her prior to this trip and provide us with a written consent for participation. For this trip, it’s required that you buy travelers’ health insurance with evacuation coverage. A few recommendations to compare: International SOS.com or WorldNomads.com or TravelGuard.com
Most places will have fans and air conditioning and it is hot outside.
Light, comfortable, and breathable clothing is recommended: T-Shirt, tank tops, shorts, skirts or capri/lightweight pants and lightweight dresses are a good idea. (Leave your jeans and hoodie at home! Unless you need them for the plane or if you’re staying a night in Bogota before traveling to Cartagena)
Remember to bring your yoga gear, swimsuit and flip flops! Once you register, we’ll send you a packing list for more suggestions.
There are many wonderful restaurants in Cartagena. We will provide you with many recommendations for local cafés, restaurants and shopping options. Most meals are included with your retreat package, though there will be a few occasions for lunch or dinner on your own.
The currency used in Cartagena and all of Colombia is the Peso. The exchange rate (as of June, 2018) is on average about COP $2.700 = US $1.00. Basically, things cost less in Cartagena, but keep in mind that it is indeed a tourist destination and we’ll be there in high season. There are ATM's that take Cirrus and Plus. PLEASE tell your bank and credit card companies the dates that you will be in Colombia or elsewhere, as they are likely to cut off your funds for fraud protection if they don't know it is you using the card. Colombia loves Visa or MasterCard! American Express, Discover or Diners Club are rarely accepted.
Most locally owned small shops & small restaurants run on cash. You often get a very good exchange rate via ATM, and it’s convenient. We recommend that you withdraw money at the ATM at the airport in Cartagena upon your arrival. We will make a couple of group visits to an ATM during our stay. Bigger restaurants and shops accept credit cards.
We recommend that you stay away from people in the street offering to change money.
TIPS are not included in your package. We are suggesting a minimum of $5 USD (its equivalent in COP- Colombian Pesos) per guest per day, which we'll collect from you at the end of the adventure and distribute among all the staff of the mansion.
There is no U.S. Consulate in Cartagena. The closest one is in Barranquilla (1.5 hour drive) https://co.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/u-s-consular-agency-barranquilla/