Chiva Tour Cartagena
It was during my trip to Cartagena that I came across a novel way of utilising transport: on a Cartagena chiva bus tour. Originally known for transporting people around Colombia, these unique, colourful buses with a character of their own, now spend their nights (and days) transporting tourists around the old walled city of Cartagena in the north of Colombia.
Advertised as putting the “rum” into rumba, I was intrigued and after a few days of spending time in this city as a solitary solo, I was ready to meet others and thought this tour would be full of backpackers but little did I know I was about to be the only English person amongst a bus full of Colombians.
The first hour was spent driving around the newer part of Cartagena collecting the party-goers as we went. Cruising along the beachfront with the live band just a few rows back, playing their instruments and singing their hearts out to the sound of Vallenato, a music genre from this part of Colombia.
Then it was time for our first stop: A magical hour on the old fortress walls where traditional dancers performed to the beat of the drums whilst the tourists looked on in awe. I must admit, an hour here is a long time when you're by yourself but I just walked around and watched the tourists dancing and forming their own mini-groups and singing.
Then we were all rounded up and given a Caribbean snack as we climbed back onboard the chiva where the rum began to flow and maracas began to shake as well as some of the booties.
Our final stop was a nightclub tucked away in the walled city which looked exclusively for us and although advertised as “free entry,” I had been to this club the evening before when it was also free. After 3.5 hours of music and still tender from the night before, I snuck off early and got a taxi back to the Air bnb accommodation I was staying in for the week.
Cartagena Chiva Tour
The Chiva tour starts from Barrio Laguito at the very end of Boca Grande (the modern part of town) where you meet at 7.45pm. From the city center it takes about 10 minutes by taxi and costs 7.000 pesos maximum. The night chiva tours run for 3-4 hours, includes your booze and some snacks plus entry to a club afterwards for 40,000 pesos. Book your chiva bus tour through Cartagena Connections.
You need to know basic Spanish to be able to converse with the other tourists. It does cost a bit of money and although it is a novelty, you don't really get to see or do that much and what you do see, you can do by yourself for free. But it is good for driving around and experiencing the live band and you do get to practice your Spanish with others. Just don't expect any backpackers! I would opt for the day sightseeing tour on a chiva instead.
Have you been to Cartagena?