Dispatch: G Adventures in Colombia, the G Style of Travel
PHOTO: Hotel Don Pedro de Heredia in Cartagena, Colombia. (photo by David Cogswell)
I’ve experienced the dynamic of group travel many times and it always starts out as a gathering of strangers, but that changes very quickly. The G Adventures Caribbean Colombia Express began in Cartagena at the Hotel Don Pedro de Heredia with 10 people gathered around a table at the rooftop restaurant of the hotel.
Our tour leader Maria began with a quick introduction of what we would be doing on the trip. She didn’t trouble with many details at first because, as she said, we would not have been able to assimilate and remember it all. It was just a general introduction, a taste of the style of travel of G Adventures, an overall view of the trip, and a focus on what we would need to remember to meet the next day.
We went around the table and introduced ourselves briefly, telling our names and one thing about ourselves. It was the most awkward moment when strangers shyly introduce themselves, but it was quick and fairly painless. By the next day we would start to know each other as people and the group would transform from a gathering of strangers to a unit, a little traveling tribe.
Maria, our leader and the person G Adventures designates as the CEO (chief experience officer) grew up in Colombia and Ecuador. She knows the area we will be traveling in well. She presents Colombia like a native who is proud of her country, who loves it and is happy to welcome visitors and show them around.
The period of the day from about 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Colombia is oppressively hot and not a good time for a lot of activity, so our first gathering as a group was set for the next day at 3 p.m. when we would take an introductory tour of Cartagena, mostly walking around the Old City. Until that time we were free to do what we wanted. Maria was available to give us suggestions of places to eat and things to do.
Quickly the style of travel of G Adventures began to make itself clear. It’s a company for explorers. The itinerary is structured with a lot of independence. There is usually one group activity included in the itinerary each day, with other options available.
The hotels chosen for the trip are indigenous, with a strong sense of the character of the place. They are located in the center of activity and the local points of interest. They are simple hotels, not excessively opulent, but designed for explorers to return to at night to sleep after the activities of the day are through. The company doesn’t put a lot of the budget into expensive rooms for people who want to spend a lot of time luxuriating in the hotel.
The group is small. The participants in my group are mostly pretty young, as young as early 20s, ranging upward into 30s, 40s, 50s, but mostly on the young side of that.
Most of the meals are taken independently and are not included in the price of the trip so that participants are free to explore as they wish. Breakfasts are provided in the hotels for people to take on their own within the breakfast period. Maria usually leads a trip to a specially chosen restaurant for dinners for those who wish to join.
Hotel Don Pedro de Heredia is a sweet hotel in the heart of the Old City in a building of an old vintage, with clay tile floors in the hallways, rich vegetation in a central courtyard area with a small pool and the rooftop restaurant where we first gathered.
Very quickly the individuals in the group began to speak to each other and to interact and gradually the group began to coalesce into a little family of explorers.
More by David Cogswell
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