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We are interested in going to Cartegena and Santa Marta in Colombia. Has anyone been there? Is it safe and is it clean? Can you recommend hotels, tour guides, etc.? Thanks, Len ---------------- Moderator note: light editing.

We went to Colombia in 2010 wth Bestway Tours, an ITN advertiser. We stayed at the Hotel Monterrey in Cartagena. It is a small hotel but has a good location to old city. It definitely met our needs. City was clean and safe. We did not go to Santa Marta but it should be about as safe as Cartagena if you are concerned about the FARC. It was our understanding at time that they are pretty much confined to areas in the far south of the country and along the Pacific.

My husband and I just got back from Cartagena yesterday. We loved it! If you like old cities, there was a lot to see and the food was wonderful! We stayed in the walled city which we agreed was a must. Our hotel was La Passion, a great boutique hotel with just 8 very different rooms. It's in a great location. Just a note...there were a lot of stairs to climb, but had a great roof top pool! Cartagena is VERY worries at all! We met an American couple from Santa Marta who said it is not as nice as Cartagena but safe also.

I went on a tour of Colombia with Explore Worldwide last year and I found the places we visited, including Cartagena and Santa Marta, to be quite safe.

In Cartagena we stayed at the Hotel 3 Banderas, which was nice, well located and within close walking distance of the old city. Cartagena was a really nice place to visit.

We did not actually stay in Santa Marta, but stayed north of it in the more picturesque fishing village Taganga at the Hotel Bahia Taganga, which has a beautiful view of the bay. I thought Taganga was prettier than Santa Marta which is a big city. Because I had only a half-day free, I took a taxi from Taganga to Santa Marta and walked around the plaza, visiting the adjoining Gold Museum and shops, and the nearby Cathedral area and then took a taxi to the Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino,the death place of Simón Bolívar, and then another taxi from there back to Taganga. It was not very expensive and quite easy to do (e.g., the staff at the hotel and Quinta called taxis for me, and I hailed another one in downtown Santa Marta.) In terms of sightseeing, I was able to cover most of the main sites in the limited time I had, i.e., there is not much to do in Santa Marta.

As part of the tour, from Taganga we visited Tayrona Park, which was really beautiful.

I hope the above info is useful.