Eric Sheets and Nils Lindhorst, planned a 5 day trip to Cartagena Columbia for my husband and me over New Years 2016/17. We were late in planning our holiday trip and concerned about availability but after a conference call with Eric and Nils to discuss our likes and dislikes, I knew we were in good hands. I worked mostly with Nils who could not have been more patient, kind, knowledgeable and professional. He made sure everything was taken care of including making sure our beautiful room was fragrance free for my allergy to flowers. We had a wonderful trip to a beautiful country but it was made even more special by the attention to detail provided by Eric and Nils!
Eric Sheets and Nils on his team advice was particularly valuable because he had lived in Medellin for several years and knows it well. He has a strong sense of what a visitor should see to understand it. Although we initially said that we only wanted to visit Medellin and Bogota, he insisted that we consider Coffee Country too. He was absolutely right. Going into the beautiful countryside also added a dimension of beauty and relaxation to our trip – hiking, biking, coffee visit, as well as experiencing the culture that is so different from the cities. Also, two of the three guides he provided were top notch. Great people skills and flexible styles as well as deep knowledge to share. We got everything we hoped for from planning our custom trip. In fact our local Medellin guide took us to the top of the gondola to a newly opened station in one of the slum neighborhoods and we had a delightful visit with the kids on the playground. It was new to her and she was willing to explore it for the first time with us. Wonderful cultural experience talking with the children. One particularly smart move was to schedule us to be the first ones in to the Ipaquira Salt Cathedral so we had it to ourselves and beat the crowds that were pouring in as we left.
I lived in the Canal Zone in Panama when I was a teenager and grew up in that area. I wanted to return to the country and re-visit my old home/schools and more, and share it all with my husband. After using one of Wendy Perrin’s WOW consultants for our Spain trip last year, I knew that I would call upon Wendy’s WOW list again to get the most out of our trip, and we were not disappointed. Wendy’s Panama contact Eric Sheets immediately referred me to the group in Panama City who arranged our trip; they were nothing but high quality experts who helped us plan the activities we wanted to enjoy while visiting Panama. We will only go through WendyPerrin.com when we plan future trips —her experts are highly knowledgeable, experienced, and responsive. Well worth the extra you pay vs. fighting the public crowds!!
Wonderful Trip to Cartagena – My husband and I arranged a 3 day trip to Cartagena last month through Eric Sheets and Nils Lindhorst.
I spoke to them on the phone about the activities we would like to do, and they responded with excellent suggestions and a very well thought out itinerary.
The hotel they recommended, the Bastion, was fabulous and well priced. Upon arrival we were upgraded to a massive suite with two full bathrooms and an outdoor terrace overlooking a small rooftop garden. The hotel restaurant served the best food of any restaurant we tried. Service was excellent.
Our guide, Eusebio, was friendly and knowledgeable, and all our drivers were excellent. Our first afternoon was spent walking around Cartagena and taking in the sights. We met with a local architect who showed us the incredible restoration work of many of the city’s historic buildings.
We spent the next day on a boat trip to the beautiful Rosario Islands, went snorkeling and had a fun lunch at a small hotel on one of these private islands.Although we had booked the boat for 8 hours, we elected to head back earlier than planned (I was nervous about the ocean swells that pick up in the afternoon), and our guide was able to adjust our schedule to see the monastery and fortress later that afternoon.
Because we moved through our itinerary so quickly, it meant that we had the following day to ourself and enjoyed visiting the many museums (all had English speaking guides for hire). We were slightly disappointed because we did inquire about spending the day at Santa Marta but the price quoted seemed excessive. Having said that, we decided a 4 hour drive each way was more than we wanted to do anyway.
We had a wonderful time in Cartagena. It is a beautiful city with friendly people and a rich history. We look forward to a future trip to Bogota and Medellin, and will definitely use the services of Eric Sheets.
Mike and I want to thank Eric for arranging our trip to Colombia. The plan was thoughtfully prepared, as we were able to visit 4 very different areas, experiencing the varied regions and cultures. In addition, each of the hotels Eric chose were wonderful – we very much enjoy staying in luxury accommodations!
There were so many activities that Eric planned for us, that it is hard to tell which we preferred more — but, to mind, we particularly enjoyed the Botero Museums in both Medellin and Bogota, the Favela in Medellin, the market and cooking class in Cartagena, the coffee tour, the hike and fruit tasting, and the Botanical Garden in Armenia.
Thank you, again. I hope to work with Eric again to plan a trip to Argentina and Patagonia!
My wife and I just returned from a 12-day trip to Colombia that was planned by Latin Excursions and we were very disappointed by the recommended itinerary, hotels, and guides provided to us during our trip. We have traveled extensively and used Wendy-Perrin-recommended travel agents many times before, going back to when Wendy was with Conde Nast. Those other experiences were wonderful. This one, unfortunately, was far from it.
When we first contacted Latin Excursions, Eric Sheets was traveling on business so our request was handled by Jena Davison, who works for Eric, instead. I would expect that Eric oversaw Jena’s management of our trip but do not know one way or the other.
Never having been to Colombia before, and having only the benefit of TripAdvisor recommendations and tour books to go by, we relied on the recommendations of Latin Excursions for the itinerary. This turned out to be a mistake as we had too much time in places with nothing to do and missed opportunities to see other places that would have been interesting. As an example, we spent three days in Cartagena, where we thought two would have been plenty, and missed the chance to take a day trip to Barranquilla which we would have liked. This, despite having told Jena that our style of traveling is to see as much as possible and that we were not interested in a vacation with a lot of downtime.
Another disappointment was in the hotels that were recommended. As an example, the Casa Medina Four Seasons was recommended to us in Bogota but we were not told that it did not have air conditioning in the rooms. The only way to get air into the rooms was to open the windows but, since the hotel is located on a busy street, this meant hearing the noise of traffic all night and early in the morning. It turns out that Latin Excursions was not aware that the hotel did not have air conditioning which we find inexcusable.
Finally, on our trip, Latin Excursions used the services of Colombia Activa, a local Colombia-based travel agency, to handle our in-country arrangements. The guides we were provided with ranged from being so inexperienced that one of them actually carried handwritten notes with her in order to be able to tell us what we were seeing to others who seemed to think they were stand up comedians who were there to entertain us rather than educate us. As most people would agree, the guides are usually what make the trip and, unfortunately, the ones provided to us on our trip fell far short of expectations.
All in all, I would not recommend using Latin Excursions for a trip to Colombia. We were very disappointed.
Response from Trusted Travel Expert Eric Sheets:
Bruce: Regarding your comment about my delegating the planning of your trip to Jena, I personally go out of my way to speak to all WOW List travelers. When you contacted me, I did advise you that I was many time zones away at an intense time-consuming trade show, and I offered to call you. You responded,
“Thanks for your note. No worries about missing the call earlier. Jena was terrific and did a great job asking questions, gathering information, etc. I’m looking forward to seeing what you/she recommend for our trip.”
Regarding your comment about having too much time in Cartagena and other spots: We felt very comfortable with the flow and evolution of the trip, based on our years of planning trips in this destination. We designed your itinerary according to your expressed interests and needs.
Regarding your comment about no A/C at the Four Seasons: Bogota is at an altitude of 8,500 feet, with average temperature at night of 45 to 50 F. Unfortunately, the week you were there, there were record warm temps due to El Nino. The morning after your complaint, I offered to change your hotel immediately, and the Four Seasons upgraded your room to a Junior suite in a quiet area. The Four Seasons is the top hotel in the country, and of course we have experienced it personally.
Regarding your comment about the guide who carried handwritten notes: Your guide Martha, who is an experienced guide in Medellin, tells me that on Day 1 you asked for some very specific figures on economics. Martha didn’t have those answers, so that night she researched the subject and came back the next day with notes so she could give you precise figures.
We are sorry that you were disappointed with your trip. Please note that the other couple who traveled with you (Cookie and MIke Woltz, whose review is above) was very satisfied with the trip.
Eric and his team did a fine job and our guides really made the trip a much richer experience than anything we could have done on our own.
Our trip to Colombia in August 2015 booked through Latin Excursions was terrific. We worked with Paula Buchanan and Eric Sheets to design a 10 day vacation for our family of 4, including 2 kids ages 10 and 13. They took the time to listen to our needs and desires and created a wonderful itinerary which captured a snapshot of the diversity of the country. When we had questions while on our trip they were quick to respond to emails directly or through the guides and local contacts they have selected to work with. We would certainly work with them again for any trip to central or South America. – The Bergers
Just returned from Columbia, the trip was organized and we were well taken care of. The guides were friendly and knowledgeable. Look forward to working with Eric in the future.
My husband and I have been fortunate to benefit from Eric and his company’s wonderful travel expertise for many years. Most recently, we traveled to Cartagena for Thanksgiving and enjoyed a truly memorable four days. The guide and drivers were excellent. We stayed at Tcherassi and loved EVERYTHING about the hotel. The trip to the Bazurto market was one of the most real, non-tourist experiences I have enjoyed. The visit with the Coco ladies was an absolute delight. Again, very natural and educational. Not the least bit of a tourist trap. A day-long boat trip to the Rosario Islands was a perfect way to see the coast and then lunch on a private island was a wonderful and delicious surprise. Restaurant Don Juan was truly remarkable. The kindness of the people, the beauty of the old city, and the incredible restoration of so many historic buildings all make Cartagena a magical place. Latin Excursions made our first trip a memorable one that will keep us coming back again and again.