Adriaan&Isabelle Check-Ins

Date Place Comment
January 16th, 2020 Trailer Park Teotihuacan

This place is in wrong location - it is located at 19.68292, -98.87041

January 12th, 2020 Trailer Park Teotihuacan

Spent two noisy nights (traffic, dogs, church, fireworks) here. Bathrooms typical for Latin and South America. I prepared my car for storage during the day. Left it in one of the spots under a roof.

Mina (Ruiz) can be contacted on +52 55 3457 2634 (cell phone and WhatsApp) or [email protected]

Mina keeps a few pieces of luggage for overlanders: she'll lend you a suitcase during the storage period. I'll leave the one I already bought.

Paid MXN 290 per night (one person) for camping. Storage costs MXN 1500 per month. Partial months possible; paid half my 2.5 month stay ahead.

January 11th, 2020 Trailer Park Teotihuacan

This place is NOT in wrong location. Ignore previous comment. The place is unchanged: 19.68292 98.87041

January 11th, 2020 Pepe's RV Park

I was here last night (20:00), knocked on the gate(s), nobody there. Slept in a hotel. Came back this morning. There are three gates. You need to find the main one, with the name Pepe's RV Park. That gate closes at 18:00. The two other gates are in a side street and bear no name or anything, but they are closest to the GPS coordinates.

The extremely friendly employee working here quoted 300 MXN per night for camping, but for 3 months of storage I had to see Benjamin. I connected to their WiFi (password on door) and booked my flights. A guy in a white car passes twice, but does not introduce himself. The employee told me later that was Benjamin...

The employee solved one of my problems: he sold me a used suitcase (left by another overlander?) when I told him I needed to go into town to buy one for my flight.

I waited for Benjamin to come back but left after an hour. Bad for business, not greeting your customers.

January 8th, 2020 SSA car inspection

We came here for the inspection and found that the seals that Ana Rodriguez in Cartagena gave us, were broken. Two cars coming from Colombia, both broken in to and completely searched and lots of stuff taken.

You can get permission to go here before you're invited for the inspection and before the paperwork is complete (see document that Ana gives out). Next time, I'd pay a surprise visit here asking to see the car (and inspect seals).

January 6th, 2020 aduana port access office

We had made our payment to SSA Mexico and the harbor tax ahead of the arrival of the boat. This Monday, we started early at Altamarina (for the BL) and Banjercito. Arrived here at 11:30 and... we were made to wait 7 hours! Then, they made photocopies of about everything, had us hand-write a letter. A 10 minute job with 7 hours wait... The envelope needed to be handed to 'búzon', which, by then, was closed. Had to come back the next morning.

Both cars were broken in to and searched. That must have taken hours. Is there a connection? Next time, I'd use the document that Ana Rodriquez in Cartagena gives out and prepare the copies myself, and go straight to 'búzon'. And then pay a surprise first to the SSA parking lot in the harbor.

January 3rd, 2020 Banamex

Paid MXN 1283,02 here today. The people at the ticket machine gave me an old ticket, which saved a ton of time.

January 3rd, 2020 Banamex

Bank, to pay the money SSA Mexico charges for its services. Even though it is a bank, the bill needs to be paid in cash (or off a Mexican bank card). No international bank card, no credit cards accepted. Long lines, bring patience.

December 27th, 2019 Ana Rodríguez - Shipping Agent

This place is in wrong location - it is located at 10.40586, -75.52316

December 27th, 2019 Ana Rodríguez - Shipping Agent

We contacted the 'usual suspects' for our shipment from Cartagena to Veracuz, Mexico by E-MAIL. Remarkably few responded. (We're getting old while refusing to use ICQ, AIM, Yahoo!, MSN, Messenger, WhatsApp or whatever is fashionable today.) Our question was: "can you ship our vehicle (with measurements and weight) and what does it cost?" Only one responded with an answer to most of the implied questions ("what is the sailing schedule and what is the transit time", "does the price include agents on both sides", "what about theft / insurance", "how many days in advance should I make the vehicle available", "how will we pay (cash / credit / other) and in what currency will we pay (and what's the exchange rate)", "where do we get our Bill of Lading (if needed)").

Ana responded with (just) a price. So, we asked the next question, and the next, and so on. Sometimes she responded immediately, on other occasions it took days. Judging from her communication style, I think she's more used to WhatsApp than e-mail. Eventually, early December, I had a short telephone conversation (in my broken Spanish) and I decided to ship with Ana, around Christmas time. We agreed to be in her office on the 20th - a week before the (estimated) departure of the boat.

Once in the office, we knew we had chosen the right agent. A prepared folder, with copies of documents I emailed, was ready on her desk, including an acknowledgement of reservation from the shipping line. (She trustingly made that reservation on the basis of e-mails - please do not betray her.) Oh - and we found out why communication during the last weeks was intermittend: they had just moved into this office. No internet, no telephone (and no aircon) yet.

Ana didn't like he pictures I took of my DIAN form and immigration stamps - they were photocopied anew. The paperwork (the 'order' itself, a power of attorney, other papers to authorize inspections and more papers requesting admittance to the harbor) were quickly printed for signing. Payment was flexible: part in cash, the rest (+5%) on a credit card, against an interbank mid-course USD->COP rate.

Ana (actually: Cortes Rodriguez Asesores, a company with about 3 more employees) quoted USD 270 for her (their) services. From past experiences, I came to think of agents as thieves. Not so here: we were picked up from our hotel, driven to the harbor (quite a bit outside the city), twice, while one of the employees (Juan-Pablo) waited patiently for hours (in the heat). And they prepared all of the paperwork, provided a helmet and a vest (required in the harbor), supplied the sealing stickers for car doors, paid road tolls. And they paid for the issuing of the Bill of Lading in Mexico (which I did not expect: another USD 50 saved). Ana mailed me at 22:30 to help remind me she would pick me up at 7:00 the next morning. I think they really delivered value for money with their service.

In short: This is a well organized, instant messaging preferring, service oriented operation (run by heart warming people).

We paid about USD 1400 for the RoRo shipment from Cartagena to Veracruz, Mexico (Land Cruiser 100, 5x2x2,4 meters, 4000 kgs), NOT including charges (or an agent) at the Mexican side. YMMV.

December 21st, 2019 Auto Lavado Berakhah (and Spa)

Very thorough and relatively fast car wash with three wash stations and six spots for drying, vacuum cleaning, engine bay washdown, window shining. Lots of employees: a streamlined operation, with a special guy just moving/parking cars.

They spent 1.5 hours preparing our Land Cruiser 100 for shipment. (Exterior, undercarriage, engine bay, interior and vacuum cleaning and dirt repellent treatment.) Paid (only) 55000 COP (and a tip for the guy who worked on our car).

(And if you'd like, get a massage while they work on the vehicle. Or just wait in the airconditioned waiting room.)

December 20th, 2019 Ana Rodríguez - Shipping Agent

The offices of Cortes Rodríguez have moved. From December 13th 2019 they're at Barrio Martinez Martelo, Transversal 37, Diagonal 19-05. Direct your GPS at +10.40586, -75.52316 and look for a house with number 19-05. (The entrance is actually a gate, the offices are on the ground floor.)

(Ana will update the GPS coordinates on iOverlander herself.)

December 19th, 2019 punta canoa hostal

We arrived at sunset, very tired after a long day of fighting traffic. We went to bed early and got up early to arrange for shipping our vehicle from Cartagena. It wasn't a very quiet night, but OK.

I guess things look better at the beginning of a trip - we don't agree with the very positive initial review. But it's definitely quieter than Cartagena.

The price was right: we paid 10000 COP per person per night for camping on the parking lot (which will not accommodate more than three overlander vehicles).

December 15th, 2019 Casa El Recuerdo - Coffe & Birds

This run-down place is in dire need of some maintenance: toilets with broken or loose seats, not a single shower head, poor light, leaking water tubes outside, grass uncut. We did like the enormous tree in the corner of the (very uneven) terrain. We appreciated the small biting bugs a lot less.

Paid 10000 COP per person per night, (limited) 110V electricity included.

December 12th, 2019 Hotel Bariloche

Small but clean, air-conditioned rooms (with a huge TV with Netflix) around a spotless flowery tiled courtyard that doubles as parking lot. 'Natural' showers (not heated) in a micro bathroom.

Traffic noise, all through the night, inescapable, but otherwise quiet.

Asking price was 80,000; paid 60,000 COP.

December 11th, 2019 Cabanas Campestres

We received a rather cool welcome by the lady of the house (don't know why). Their business is renting out the cabañas, vehicle campers are allowed on the (smallish, uneven) parking lot. Tenters have a lot of better options. Good views of the cañon below, comfortable temperatures, bathroom basic but clean. Some noise in the evening from the cabañas.

Paid 10000 COP per person per night.

December 8th, 2019 Auto Faro

These people repair the plastic of broken head and tail lights, as well as broken side mirrors. The place is very small and their name is hidden under an awning. (And there are many similar shops here.) They were recommended to me by the shop manager of the nearby Toyota dealer.

December 8th, 2019 Camping Guaimaro

Joep (archeologist) and Julia (architect) have found a great spot for themselves: historic stuff in the ground, new purposes to be designed for historic structures (and built by Joep), in a perfect climate, in balance with nature. Having such a great home is a rare wealth, but they're not keeping it to themselves: they share with overlanders (who may not be as sustainable as them) and with volunteers (who currently help build extra bathrooms).

We enjoyed the shade of the tree (that lends its name to the place) in the far corner of the 'camping terrace', overlooking both the valley and the property. The terrace is great for meditation sessions, or just 'being there'. The fireplace, radiating absorbed warmth after sunset, is built leaving an old rock in place: construction with respect of what's already there. And this is to be seen elsewhere on the property: stones in bathrooms, roofs over kitchens, rainwater falling where it always did (no gutters).

Price was 18000 COP per person per night.

An inspirational stay. Leaving was the hard part.

December 6th, 2019 The lake hotel and Camping B&B

This lovely house in a beautiful garden overlooking the lake is shared between the hosts and the guests. Dennis (from the USA) is a creative cook (we didn't know you could make a tasty pizza that way) and Martha (Colombian) is a great host.

The space for vehicle camping is rather small; it might be better to call or e-mail ahead to make sure there's room. (WhatsApp +57 311 510 0856 or e-mail [email protected])

We paid 20000 COP per person per night for camping. Prices for food are very reasonable: we had dinner and breakfast as well.

December 6th, 2019 Somos Llantas

Bought 4 BF Goodrich (285/75R16) tyres here with five day delivery time at a good price. They (Claudia) called me to confirm they arrived. Professional, clean shop with all (ergonomic) equipment. Mechanics refrained from using air-wrenches after my first request and handled my poor quality wheel nuts with manual care. (I always refuse to leave the car while it's being worked on and play supervisor instead.)

While there, I saw they do alignments and brakes as well. They call themselves "we are wheels" and that's what the shop looks like. I'd take other maintenance elsewhere, even though they can do oil and filter changes too.

December 2nd, 2019 Autoamérica Toyota

Came in (on appointment - waited the week-end) for scheduled maintenance for a Land Cruiser 100 with an 1HD-FTE diesel engine. I keep track of the maintenance schedule myself and I have the shop manual with me (on a laptop).

Four mechanics do the work in parallel - which makes it difficult to keep an eye on them. Management eventually came out to ask me to leave the shop, which I refused. (I may have spoilt it for the next stubborn customer.)

Should you have the same car: no need to go to an official dealer, because most parts for diesel versions are not available here anyway. So, no hope for original bushings. Original filters were available.

Reasonable prices.

November 29th, 2019 Autoamérica Toyota

Yet another official Toyota dealer with a professional workshop.

November 29th, 2019 Auto Faro

Took my right side mirror here: the cast aluminum inner arm was broken after backing up while the mirror was caught on a tree. Toyota doesn't know better than to replace the whole assembly (painted housing, motors, heated mirror: € 550 and 30 day import delivery time).

Here, they disassembled the whole thing and put a long threaded pipe inside the cast aluminum arm and replaced the broken glass. A few hours work and 120000 COP (€ 31) later, I could see (@#!?&?) motorcycles passing me on my right side again!

November 28th, 2019 Pablo Escobar Tour

This is the house owned by nephew (Enrique?) and the guides call it a museum, which is a big word for mostly low resolution enlargements of photographs. The wet bike (which Pablo had to have after seeing 'The Spy Who Loved Me') is nice.

Guides William and Jairo take you through the life of Pablo in an entertaining way. They tell anecdotes and try their very best to paint a positive picture of this drug lord by stressing that he 'gave back' to the people and explaining about his extravaganzas.

With that, they go against council policies. The municipality destroyed the 8 story marble clad house of Pablo (in Feb 2019) and they seem to want to get rid of his legacy altogether. This tour shows the opposite side.

Optionally, the tour guides will take you to the site of the destroyed house and to the family's grave (in the nephew's bullet proof Toyota Corolla).

We paid a whopping 150,000 COP per person for the full tour (without the 'house and graveyard drive', it's 90,000 COP). I was disappointed that the guide had the heart to ask for a tip.

November 28th, 2019 Al Bosque Hostel & Glamping

We did follow our GPS (rush hour, in the dark) and ended up on the steep road. It can be done with an overweight Land Cruiser 100 (low gear engaged). I've tested two 'via' waypoints to avoid this and added them to the initial description above. The campground is at quite an altitude: while the city can be hot, the climate here is always on the cool side.

The campground is OK and pretty quiet (considering you're close to a city: traffic audible). Spots a little close to each other. Facilities as described by others.

We were in the area for vehicle maintenance and spent 5 enjoyable nights on this campground waiting for mechanics and parts (and 2 hotel nights in Medellin, close to the shop). This is a good place to meet other overlanders and exchange tips.

Paid 17,000 COP per person per night.

November 26th, 2019 Vascafé - coffee tour

We paid COP 25,000 per person (and felt we supported this family enterprise this way).

November 26th, 2019 Vascafé - coffee tour

Alejandro Vásquez Giraldo is an agricultural engineer, who runs a 20,000 m² farm with 6,000+ coffee plants (and 1,200 banana, some avocado trees and some sugar cane). The farm also has (2.5) cows and goats and some fowl.

The entire process of coffee growing is shown: from seed to small plants in a pot to harvesting the fruits on a full grown plant, (mechanically) peeling them, drying, (manually) sorting etc. Any question is welcome (including technical ones): about biologically circular systems to what fertilizer is used. Or about the 'why' for the plastic bags around the bananas.

Once the beans are peeled, dried and selected, they are sold (most through a 'cooperativa' to Nestlé), but the tour does not stop there: you get to roast beans in a pan, 'casera' style, grind them and make coffee (using 'aguapanella' if you'd like). And then drink coffee 'grown here, harvested here, roasted here, brewn here', part of which you participated in. (Another part of the harvest is available, professionally roasted and ground, in local stores (and this farm), under the name 'Valcafé'.)

We found this small scale farm a great place to learn about the process and the individual nature of the tour (we were only two, and Alejandro) made that we had all of our questions answered.

Alejandro speaks Spanish, but adapts to foreigners (in the sense that he knows to speak slowly and explain again using other words). Appointments can be made through WhatsApp: +57 311 370 3682.

November 25th, 2019 Hostal Cabana La Isla

This place is owned by a very friendly couple (Francy and Elkin) that lives in town (Jardin). They're here most of the time in the mornings, but they can be reached through WhatsApp: +57 300 620 31 20 should you miss them.

The place to put a vehicle is rather small and is also used as a parking lot for people in the cabañas. But you'll be right next to the shelter, kitchen and bathroom.

The whole terrain is well tended and looks like a garden that receives a lot of love. There are bird feeding stations here and there and there are many exotic birds.

They recommended the coffee tour at Finca Clara in Verdun and patiently explained how to get there by bus. (Added the tour as a tourist attraction on ioverlander.)

We came in for one night, stayed three. Paid 15,000 COP per person per night (110 V electricity included).

BTW: At one point in time, there was a volunteer who spoke English. The couple speaks Spanish.

November 24th, 2019 Roca Dragón

Camping takes place in the garden of the house, which is in a street with similar lots and varying types of houses (from regular dwellings to villas).

The road is pretty busy during this Sunday afternoon, and traffic kept on flowing during the night. The dogs will react to some vehicles and/or pedestrians, and start a barking contest with the neighbors. There's a bar of some kind across the street that plays loud music (maybe just weekends).

Not a place for a quiet night (for 50+ year old people who go to sleep early), nor for just a stopover.

The caretaker is a very nice person and he makes all kinds of artisanal goods from natural materials like seeds and twigs. We liked the bracelets and earrings.

Campers share the 'kitchen' and the bathroom with the (3) inhabitants of the house.

This place is a great opportunity to support these artists by buying some of their work (the money for camping goes to the owners across the street).

Paid 10,000 COP per person (per night), 110V electricity included.

November 19th, 2019 La Bonanza

The hospitality gets to the point where it overwhelmed me - we sometimes felt we were intruding into the life of this family of five (with studying teenagers). But the whole family kept inviting us - extraordinarily hospitable.

Kika and Anouar's mission is to make La Bonanza a great stop for overlanders. They know what 'we' like. These ex-overlanders share their experience, their wealth, their ... lives with visitors.

They are a good source for all kinds of travel advice: from popular Colombian destinations and reliable mechanics to vehicle shipping agents, all of whom Kika stays in touch with (we took quite a bit of their advice).

The infrastructure is being extended all the time and it's very accommodating already. Like mentioned by others, there's a kitchen, plenty of shelter with comfy seats, 110 and 220V electricity close to the vehicle campsites. The sites are covered with gravel (best in dry and wet conditions).

We stayed four nights and left only because we needed to make progress towards Cartagena. It was hard to leave.