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Pirate Camping :: Cartagena, Colombia

By Nick H-J

Notwithstanding all the other complications, timing of arrival in Cartagena is tricky since you will be traveling separately from your vehicle.  Assuming you can get yourself and your vehicle there at roughly the same time, there is still the process of retrieving it from the port and getting it through customs.  This basically means that you will likely have to stay in a hotel or hostel for at least a night or two.  For us, that was a new experience, since we camp nearly every night.  We liked it (and Cartagena) so much that, after seven months on the road, we rented a room for a month with another couple (Greg and Kerri, of mugging and stabbing infamy).  It was cheap to rent a room when split four ways, but it left us with the question of parking the truck somewhere.  The secure parking lots were as expensive as the room, so that seemed ridiculous.  Since I had spent so much time making the truck secure, it seemed it was time to put it to the test.  I found a spot and parked the truck out in the open for more than a month (in perilous Colombia), and all went well.  I also recommended this same spot to other ramblers that came through Cartagena while we were there.  Several of them pirate camped there without incident.  If you are looking for a spot to camp or to store your whip while you check out the town, this is the spot for you.  I will say that I don’t recommend storing a vehicle here or anywhere else for a great length of time if it is not EXTREMELY secure.  I also recommend spending a little time in the area and meeting the local homeless population.  I paid one of them to keep an eye on the truck for me, though I don’t have the slightest idea if that helped.

Getsemani is the area I recommend staying in Cartagena.  It is in the south eastern side of the ‘island’ that makes up the city center (old Cartagena shown in the upper left of the satellite photo).  Just south across the Roman Bridge (Puente Romano) from Getsemani is a more wealthy neighborhood called Manga (on the bottom right side of the satellite photo).  Once across Puente Romano make the first right hand turn you can.  This will lead you toward the water and you will pass Club De Pesca (the swanky marina) on your right.  As you pass the marina you will see an old fortification in front of you (which is now a public parking lot) and you will be forced to turn left 90 degrees.  You will now be driving along the waterfront.  As soon as you see the water on your right you will see parking spaces on the right along the road.  This is where I parked (marked on the satellite photo).  There are several sets of parking spaces along this waterfront area (which has a walking path along it).  I chose the first set of spaces because there is a guard posted at the entrance to the public lot, and though he does not guard the public lot (he just stands outside of it), he is always there and so might deter some mischief.

For those of you with GPS the coordinates of the site are:

N10° 24′ 49.68″  W75° 32′ 35.0154″

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One Comment

  1. Tipping the “homeless people” to watch your car is the norm in South America. You should always do it. A little before and a little more afterwards and you will be well taken care of. If you don’t tip in some areas, they may at least deflate your tires to give you a lesson. Trust me on that one.

    1. seth allan ames on December 5th, 2009 at 11:42 am

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