Reviewed on 23 Jan 2014 by Helen Cosgrove
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?
Loved the Colombian people; loved Bogota; Medellin & Cartagena.
2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?
Be aware in advance of the length of time it takes to get served in restaurants
and the blandness of the food. Also we found the guides to be uninspiring.
Colombia needs to invest in these areas in order to drive tourism in a positive
3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?
It was good and very enjoyable overall - we saw a huge amount of the country and had many different experiences.
Read the operator's response here:
We are happy to hear from our customer that they did like the Colombian people and cities and that the trip overall was very enjoyable. Also we are really glad to hear that the trip was regarded as bringing benefits to local people, involve reduction of environmental impacts and support conservation. As these are important items for many local operators, as well as for tourism in general in Colombia.
It's true that some local guides have to learn more about standards of Western tourism and not all guides speak English very well, but normally they are very enthusiastic. What happened here is that the group preferred to travel without an experienced tourleader. When traveling in a group and not familiar with the Spanish language and Colombian culture, we always highly recommend to travel with an experienced tourleader. This we did advise to this travelparty but they preferred to travel on their own. It is quite a challenge to travel with a group through Colombia without anyone speaking Spanish! My partner supported and accompanied this group every day by telephone. This would however have been fully unnecessary with the presence of a tourleader. A learning lesson also for us. A tourleader does not only inform the group during the trip about Colombian culture and aspects in general, but supports the whole organization and logistics of local tours, transfers, coordinates with the local guides, is a complement in many aspects to the local guides, selects restaurants and prepares the menus, takes care of first aid and prevents accidents there where necessary. A professional tourleader has many years of experience in guiding groups, is passionate about a country, about the tours, about guiding, loves to take care, anticipates and this way creates a once in a life time vacation for his customers. We offered to guide this travelparty ourselves, we would have loved to do so and it is a pity we did not have the chance to make this trip more than enjoyable. We have guided many grouptrips, we are certificated and do recognize once again that guiding a travelparty is not something that you just do and comes by itself: it is a true profession! When traveling in a small group or in case of a tailor made individual travel, this can be a financial factor to think about, but when a group is bigger than 8 or 10 pax, the extra cost is relatively low and has a huge advantage. We do offer guidance in Latin American destinations as Cuba, Peru, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Brasil and in Colombia. You can see some of our group offers on the site of Responsible Travel. Feel free to contact us and have a chat by Skype.
At last but not at least about the food. Colombia is not famous for its kitchen that is true so far, this may change in future, but it does have very nice and traditional foods to offer. In the bigger cities as Bogota, Cartagena, Medellin and Cali you can find some boutique haute cuisine restaurants though. Many local restaurants are not used to big groups or European standards. The meal that is ready, is served first without thinking of the other plates that still have to come. Also, as soon as somebody finishes eating, the plate is taken away. So when eating in group, sometimes one is already finished while others are still waiting. This should not happen in the better restaurants in the bigger cities, but also here it helps to have a tourleader in the group who manages all this with the waiters and captain of the restaurant.