This time we decided to do our gay travel journals differently. Instead of combining all cities, places, activities, and highlights in just one long article, we separate the different places we visited in Colombia in several journals, starting with Cartagena, followed by Bogotá and Medellín. We think this is a better approach for you, the readers, to get more precise, more detailed gay travel information about the South American country you need. This first journal focuses on Cartagena, the Colombian summer vacation destination in the northern part of the country. Known for its Caribbean flair, we had a blast exploring Cartagena’s old town’s colorful and colonial city center, the surrounding nature. In addition, we enjoyed some relaxing, luxurious days at the beach. We also got the chance to learn about the LGBTQ+ community, including the only still open gay bar in Cartagena. But let us show you the highlights of our first six days of our trip to gay-friendly Colombia in our gay Cartagena travel journal through a couple of men’s eyes.
– in collaboration with Tourism Colombia & OutInColombia –
Journal of our Gay-friendly trip to Cartagena
We landed in Cartagena Airport CTG after an 11-hour flight to Bogotá and a short 45-minutes connecting flight to Cartagena. It just had stopped raining, and the sun created a welcoming rainbow over the countryside. It took a while until we could get to our luggage although the passport control (no visa needed for Germany and Netherlands) went really smooth. It was hot and humid in Cartagena but with this special summer and vacation flair. During the short drive to our hotel about 15 minutes outside of Cartagena, we saw uncountable scooters crossing our car’s way. The first steps outside our hotel towards the Caribbean Sea said just one thing: Have a great vacation in Colombia!
We found some great flight offers from Europe via Amsterdam with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines! Deals starting from 688 Euro* return to Cartagena, from 618 Euro* return to Medellín, and from 548 Euro* return to Bogotá. Click here for Europe via Amsterdam to Colombia and back > *subject to availability / last check: October 2019
Part 1: Cartagena – Luxurious beach days
For the first 3 days of our trip, we stayed at the Melia Cartagena Karmairi, luxurious hotel on the Caribbean coast. It lays behind the adults-only The Level but still very close to the beach. That makes it perfect for a romantic sunset in the pool. The Melia Cartagena Karmairi has a more modern feel and is located directly behind The Level. With our all-inclusive wristband and not much else around, it was the perfect place to get a little color while enjoying beach time and swimming in the warm Caribbean Sea.
The best way to get over our jet lag was to treat ourselves to a Spa day including a sauna, whirlpool, and a message. For the second evening, we got an invitation to get on board a Katamaran for a Saturday sunset tour around Cartagena’s harbor organized by María del Puerto. Together with a group of lovely locals, we danced into the night with Colombian, Caribbean, and Latin songs (check our Instagram Story highlight Colombia for the dance!).
Gay-friendly Hotel: Melia Cartagena Karmairi
Tipp: Gay-friendly Restaurants: Dinner included at Hotel
OutInColombia is a socially responsible LGBT travel and tourism agency. Sam and his team believe that travel can open hearts, minds and heal our planet. They create life-changing and memorable tourism experiences promoting cross-cultural exchanges, improve the quality of life of Colombians, and preserve Colombia’s biodiversity.
Mud Volcano – Getting dirty in Colombia
Fitting to Halloween, we did a day trip to Santa Catalina north of Cartagena to visit the Mud Volcano Totumo which is, according to local lore, the devil’s work. After a priest sprinkled holy water on the fire of the active volcano, the lava turned into mud. This muddy highlight not far from Cartagena turned into a tourist highlight attracting many LGBTQ+ travelers as well. Our day started with a bus trip to the volcano where we had to get naked. Dressed only in a speedo, we climbed up the slippery stairs to the top of the volcano and jumped into the gray and warm mud.
Good to know: The mud is supposed to be very healthy for the skin due to minerals. For just a few Pesos, one of the guys sitting in the mud gave us a mud massage and another one took the hilarious photos of your phones. After the ‘healthy’ bath in the mud, we had to decent slowly taking super slippery stairs down to the nearby lake. Wash ladies expected us to help up to wash it all off in the lake water. The crazy experience we would not want to miss!
Plan your gay adventure: Mud Volcano Totumo
Don’t forget to bring: Water, some snacks (energy bars), swimwear, slippers, and a towel
Mangroves – 13th largest mangrove swamp in the world
The mud volcano wasn’t the only adventure we had planned. We were just longing to be in Colombian nature, not only at the beach. A canoe tour through the mangrove swamp in Cartagena was exactly what we were looking for during our first days in Colombia. Equipped with mosquito repellent, drinking water, and our cameras, we went deep inside the mangroves crossing huge lakes and partly opaque mangrove tunnels. We saw so many beautiful birds, met some local fishermen, and experienced an almost total quietness away from the busy city life.
During the last 15 minutes of the tour, we reached the inhabited areas of small settlements and villages. Unfortunately, this was also the place where many trash bags, plastic bottles, and other garbage were floating around in the brackish water. Our guide soothed our concerns by explaining the local actions taken to develop this area and educating the locals about health and environmental issues. We seriously hope that this will become a priority in the future to protect and preserve this fragile environment. Our tip for you: Bring a drinking bottle you can refill in your hotel, use reusable bags, and please don’t throw any additional trash into the waters.
Don’t forget to bring: Mosquito repellent (!!!), water, a cash tip
The only gay nightlife tour in Colombia, and we tested it in Bogotá with an open bar, free shots, and VIP entrances (even to Theatron)! From the trendy to the underground: the handsome guides took us to places of the city’s gay scene, that we couldn’t have found on our own. Get 5% off with the COUPLEOFMEN5 discount code during booking!
Part 2: Cartagena – Colonial City Center Life
We had a blast during our first days in Colombia! The Caribbean atmosphere, the great food with fresh fruits and local ingredients, the Mud volcano, the mangrove boat tour, and the colorful houses of the walled old town of Cartagena. And it’s not only the Caribbean but also a gay-friendly part of Colombia with a gay bar and many welcoming LGBTQ+ Colombians. We even had the chance to wave our rainbow flag over the city wall of Cartagena while riding a historical Spanish canon. After our beach days, we stayed in the heart of the old town in short walking distance to the city’s highlights. Delicious food, a rooftop pool with a view, dinner under the stars with live music – Welcome to Colombian paradise.
This Colombia guide should give you an overview and orientation of what you can explore during a first 13 days trip to South America. We will add new blog articles to our Gay Travel Guide Colombia with additional information in the next months. But now, plan your trip to Cartagena, to Medellín, and to Bogotá with a Couple of Men.
Old town Cartagena – Colonial Gaycation Paradise
Together, we can reach everything! Well, almost everything. But unfortunately, we didn’t manage to catch one of the famous umbrellas on the beautiful street Calle Angosto in Cartagena. The Caribbean city right at the sea is just gorgeous and picturesque around every corner. The last three days in our first destination in Colombia, we spent exploring the colonial old town of Cartagena which is surrounded by the historical city wall. Especially the colorful houses, remarkable street art, and the lovely Colombians created just the right gaycation feeling.
The only thing we would like to mention is that we really disliked the many locals who tried to sell us water, souvenirs, or just wanted to sing and dance for us expecting money around every corner. Daan as a ginger bearded man was chosen to be many times the ‘victim’ for the younger, dancing, and singing street artist. Of course, if you like that kind of holiday attention, you will find yourself in paradise. If you don’t, you have to speak out clearly, but you can expect some harmless mumbled-together Spanish curses.
Don’t forget to bring: Sun lotion, a little umbrella, cash
Flamingo Watching at The National Aviary of Colombia
Just another day in Colombian nature! The weather couldn’t have been better when we left our hotel and started our tour to the National Aviary of Colombia, the Aviario Nacional in Cartagena. We made our way west passing through the Colombian countryside and through small villages for the better part of an hour. And it really wasn’t busy when we arrived there. With over 1,700 birds and more than 170 species, we really had to take our time to spot as many of the unique, colorful, and typical Colombian birds as possible! Did you know that Colombia with its 1.826 bird species is the country with the most bird species in the world?
We were super excited to see all the birds we had read so much about. Our highlight birds: The Hairy Eagle (the largest and most powerful raptor found in the rainforest) and, of course, the super noisy Flamingos! Probably the loudest but definitely on the most beautiful creatures of the Aviario Nacional de Colombia. Don’t forget to bring sun lotion, mosquito repellent, and drinking water. It was super hot there but the birds are worth every drop of sweat. And maybe you are lucky enough to find some beautiful and special feathers along your way!
Don’t forget to bring: Water (only beverage allowed), sun lotion, sun hat, mosquito repellent
Gay Cartagena Travel: Just the beginning of our South America adventures
It has been a wonderful time in Cartagena, and we learned a lot about the surrounding nature. Since we got this question a lot: Yes, it really felt safe for us being in Colombia as an openly gay couple traveling together. We are especially happy about our choice to travel with Sam from Out in Colombia who took care of everything including being our translator in a few situations. (No we don’t speak Spanish. Yet. But like so much, it’s on the list)! Please don’t hesitate to ask us any questions about your trip to Cartagena, and we will give our best to find the answer, or at least, to point you in the right direction. But now we are off to our second destination: Colombia’s capital city Bogotá!
Do you want to know and see more of us gay couple travel bloggers? Stay tuned on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook! See you around in Colombia, South America, and on one of our next gay pride trips around the world!
Karl & Daan.
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Please note: This gay-friendly trip to Colombia was made possible in close collaboration with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Out in Colombia, and the Tourism board of Colombia. Additionally, we are thankful for all the tips and help to come from our wonderful readers, followers, new and old friends from all over the world and Colombia. Nevertheless, our opinion, our photos, our videos, and our writings are our own, as always.