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Best way to get to the fort?


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I have been wondering this same thing. I have decided to take a taxi from pier to fort- but still trying to decide if we can walk from fort to the Walled City. I've tried googling a clear walking route with no luck. :(



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I think It's only a couple of miles to the fort, though not the best area. My husband speaks Spanish fluently so we walked outside the port area and took a taxi--it was $5 or $6 for the 2 of us. From inside it may be $15 to the walled city, might be a little less to the fort. We did walk from the fort to the walled city--not sure whether I would recommend it, but we survived the experience. You do have to walk through kind of a bad part of town and we passed people sleeping on the sidewalk. The walled city itself seemed pretty safe.

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  • 3 months later...

We took a taxi on 2/14/14. From inside the pier it was $20 to the fort. If you walk outside the pier it is cheaper. From the fort to the walled city was $5 or $6- then from the walled city back into the pier was $15. A local person we chatted with told us it was because the taxis have to pay a fee to have access to inside the port area.



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  • 1 month later...

We just got back from Cartagena, Columbia...


Another fine day for an excursion on our own as we wanted to spend a few hours exploring Castillo San Felipe de Barajas, an UNESCO World Heritage site, and the largest fortification structure in the Southern Caribbean which kept foreign ships and pirates at bay for centuries.


Upon exiting the ship, you'll walk through a bird park (more later) to locate a taxi. This is where the mass confusion begins and advanced planning would be good. They will try to stuff you into the first available taxi. What to know: 1. you can hire a taxi for a 1-way ride. You'll recognize the official taxi drivers by their blue uniforms. The taxis are not metered, so you must agree on a price before entering the vehicle. The asking price for a 1-way ride to the old city from the pier is $20 per taxi (not per person). 2. You can hire a day guide. These taxi drivers wear a white uniform. Again, the guided taxis are not metered, so you must agree on a price before entering the vehicle. The asking price is about $20/hour (per taxi, not per person). 3. Ask for a guide that speaks good English. Test them. You'll find most speak just enough to get you into their cab. DO NOT get in until you have settled on a price and are happy with their english proficiency. 4. Most of the taxi's have no air conditioning. If it's important to you, ask for a new car with cold a/c. Otherwise you'll get a late model car that blows hot air through the vent (like we got). They will accept US dollars.


We negotiated with the dispatcher for a guide for 4 hours for $60. We wanted to go to explore San Felipe Fortress for an hour, visit the walled city, and explore San Pedro Claver Church. We had no interest in shopping. We reiterated this with our driver after we asked him if he spoke English. "Yes, Welcome to Cartagena. Please get in the taxi."


Me: "We'd like to go to San Felipe Fortress to explore it for an hour or so".

Driver: "See up there? (Points to La Popa Monestary up on a hill, which is actually a cool place to visit). That's the monestary. I take you there."

Me: "No. Take us to San Felipe Fortress."

(We arrive at the Fortress.)

Driver: "Ok, get out, take pictures. 15 minutes."

Me: "No. You park and we're going in. We'll be gone about an hour".

(Frankly at this point, I didn't care if he did leave as I hadn't paid him yet).


Admission was US$10 per person. Ask the cashier for a map (even though it's only written in Spanish) as it will help orient you. This is a pretty cool fort. Lots of walking. It has very steep ramps and inclines. Some stairs. Expect to sweat profusely. The heat is oppressive. I recommend going first thing in the morning. They open at 8:00 am. Wear sunscreen, a hat, good walking shoes, and bring water. Also take a flashlight so you can more easily explore the dark tunnels to the left, and center, of the fort. The tunnels to the left are not too steep and have numerous off-shoots. The tunnels in the center have a very steep incline and go down deep.


A local in period uniform plays trumpet with unwaivering allegence to whomever he sees. "You from Canada?" He plays "O Canada". "You from USA?" He plays "God Bless America" or, in homage to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, plays "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head". He plays for tips. Since my wife tipped him $2, we also took his picture with her.


A souvenier shop with light beverages will greet you at the top of the fort. Cold water is resonably priced at US$2 a bottle. Souverniers are also reasonably priced. We explored for about an hour and returned to the taxi.


Me: "Lets go to the old city".

Driver: "Do you want to shop".

Me: "No".

Driver: "I'll stop here (open marketplace)"

Me: "Okay..."

(We walked the marketplace and got back into the taxi).


We went into the old walled city where the driver parked his car and lead us on a tour. Our first stop was the Gold Museum, which was inexplicably closed for the day. Then on to Plaza de Santo Domingo, Plaza de los Coches, and finally Plaza San Pesdro Claver where we had an opporuntity to explore the 400 year old church named after Saint Peter Claver, a Jesuit Priest, who dedicated his life to helping African slaves passing through Cartagena. This church has an old forest growing in its courtyard providing cool shade. It also has a religious relic --- the visible robed skeletal remains of Saint Peter Claver interned behind glass at the bottom of the alter. Admission was US$5.


Following our tour the driver asked if we wanted to go to an Emerald Museum in the new city. We agreed. The air conditioned Emerald Museum features a free escourted tour. We learned about Emeralds, mining techniques, saw stones being cut and polished, and were eventually led into the main showroom where we could buy Emeralds. There was no hard sell. We looked at a few pretty stones and left to find our taxi and head back to the ship.


Upon arrival at the pier, we gave the driver $60 and a tip. He looked unhappy.


Me: "Is there a problem?"

Driver: "This is only for 3 hours."

Me: "This is the $60 we agreed with the dispatcher to pay for 4 hours, plus tip."

Driver (shaking his head): "Okay..."


Hint: Given rates we were charged for admission, you'll do better if you have Colombian Pesos. At this writing, the conversion rate was about 2000 pesos to 1 USD.


When we returned we visited the bird park, known as the "Parrot Experience", located at the duty-free shop at the entrance of the pier. It features uncaged rabbits, monkeys, tucans, flamingos, peacocks, lots of colorful parrots, and a few other birds. They were loose, tame, and unafraid of humans. It was easy to take close-up pictures. We spent about 45 minutes looking at the critters, and it was free.


Picture... http://www.lavasurfer.com/info/cartagena.jpg


More "Secrets of the Caribbean": http://www.lavasurfer.com/info/caribbean-secrets.html

First-hand information on excursions we've taken in 24 Caribbean ports. With photos!

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We hired a cab for the day for $60 for 4 of us. Had him take us to the Fort (neat but not a huge deal), old town, monastery and a few other stops. Turned out to be a good day. Tipped him $40 when he dropped us off. First few cabs wanted a $100+ se kept walking down their line negotiating.

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