Category: Reviews

jaguar negro hostel

Jaguar Negro Hostel – Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Situated only a minute’s walk from the beach, surrounded by palm trees and sunshine, Jaguar Negro has the perfect location for those looking to relax on the beach and hit up Fifth Avenue for some excitement.

 

jaguar negro hostel

 

The rooms are clean and well-stocked with large lockers with built-in locks to store your valuables. The kitchen is equipped with what you need to cook a quality meal, and there is a TV with comfortable seating for those nights you just want to stay in. The beds are comfortable, the location is fantastic, and the bathrooms were perfectly adequate for the three nights I stayed there.

The only things I would say weren’t ideal were the mosquitoes and the heat. Mosquitoes are heavier in Mexico; it kind of comes with the heat, so the owner is adding a fan and/or A/C in the near future. This is a new hostel, so when I arrived things were still being developed. I love staying at new hostels for the advantages they provide, the improvements I get to both witness and add to, and the ambience is much different than you would get in a strict hotel or hostel that I previously have experienced in Playa del Carmen.

Overall I enjoyed my stay at Jaguar Negro Hostel. I loved the art and atmosphere and the staff was friendly as well as accommodating. I would recommend this hostel to those coming to Playa del Carmen, Mexico to get a nice mix of relaxed beach vibes while still soaking up the excitement of the area. A short walk from all of the clubs and bars, yet still far enough away from the noise makes this a great selection for backpackers traveling around Mexico.

 

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Accommodation was kindly provided by Jaguar Negro Hostel, but all opinions, photography and spelling mistakes are my own 🙂

Kantarrana Casa de Campo – Jardín, Colombia

Fall asleep to the sounds of the rushing river, breathe in the fresh air the surrounding plethora of plants are constantly purifying, and sleep soundly and safely tucked away in the jungle outside the center of Jardín, Colombia.

The nature here is incredible. I saw a frog on the balcony hopping it’s way to his room, and combined with the amount of bamboo, fruit trees, and colorful flowers, ecohotel Kantarrana inspires feels of The Jungle Book.

This hotel has to be my favorite so far. It’s the little things that add up to a fantastic stay, and this one had numerous. Upon my arrival, I was greeted with smiles and taken to a cozy room for one or two, fully-equipped with a feeling of home. The bed is comfortable, the surrounding seating overlooks the river just a few meters away, and the traditional breakfast is included in the price of the room.

Wake up well-rested to the rushing river snuggled under cozy blankets and head out to the dining area to watch the cows graze on the steep hillside while you graze on a delicious breakfast. including eggs with tomato and onion, arepa, cheese, bread, a banana, tree tomato juice, and coffee.

Parking is available on-site for those who wish to come by car and tours to caves and waterfalls are available for arrangement through the front desk. There’s also a river nearby to explore the incredible views, leaving guests with endless things to do despite being a taxi ride away from the center of Jardin.

The hotel has several rooms of different types. If you’re a couple looking for a nature getaway, with the option of enjoying a jacuzzi bathtub or a nearby steam room, outdoor jacuzzi, and a massage, Kantarrana is a great choice. If you’re a party group and wish to stay in the same room for a more economical price, check out the dormitory room. Otherwise, you can stay in one of the uniquely decorated one-to-two person rooms, bathroom with hot shower included. Best for those who appreciate the incredible diversity of nature and culture Jardín, Colombia has to offer.

Accommodation and breakfast was kindly provided by Kantarrana Casa de Campo, but all opinions, photography and spelling mistakes are my own 🙂

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Kolibrí Hostel – Pereira, Colombia

 

Combining city life with a touch of art and nature, Kolibrí Hostel has some of the best accommodation options available for a wide range of budgets and interests. I always say it’s the little things that add up, and Kolibrí has covered virtually every one of them, exceeding my expectations. Without becoming too industrialized, this hostel is organized, yet laid-back. Colorful, yet in control. Everything was created for the hostel with style in mind.

 

They even provide an iron?? This ain’t no backpackers-only hostel 😉

 

Something I had to appreciate were the solar showers. Not only were they some of the hottest along my route through Colombia, but they have got to be the nicest. Two spacious public kitchens allow for maximum capacity in this larger-sized hostel while still leaving a comfortable homey vibe. Staff is friendly and accommodating and the place has everything I needed for a short holiday that is higher end than most hostels for a great value.

 

 

The fantastic location puts guests next to popular bars, restaurants, shopping malls, clubs, and so much more. Tours are available through the hostel, and with tons of information on things to do around Pereira, you’re perfectly equipped with everything you need for a happy holiday. Comfy, cute, clean, and spacious rooms, and you’re guaranteed a pleasant stay.

 

 

If you appreciate art and good design, come to Kolibrí. If you like relaxing, come to Kolibrí. If you enjoy embracing both nature and the city life, this is your place. With the perfect combination of art and design, integrating nature in unique ways, there are plenty of gorgeous seating arrangements to enjoy, including several hammocks both upstairs and downstairs.

 

What could be improved:

I stayed in a mixed dorm with 10 other beds and wasn’t given a key for the room, though there were plenty of lockers and even a wardrobe for putting my luggage. Also, there was no breakfast included in the price of the room, but it’s possible to order breakfast with Kolibrí at fair prices, and coffee and tea are unlimitedly available all day. Also it would be cool if there was a blender or food processor. Just a suggestion 😉

 

 

Overall I would recommend Kolibrí to those who want an upper scale dormitory feel, or prefer a private room at more of a hostel price. I saw many people of all classes at this place, something I have seen especially unique to hostels of this scale, and many of those I talked to were impressed with the quality of Kolibrí Hostel. High-security, well-designed, friendly staff, hot showers, equipped kitchens, great location, comfortable beds… what else could you ask for?

 

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Hotel Hosteria La Valdivia

La Valdivia has all your homely needs, whether you wish to have a private cabana to yourself overlooking the lake, or a private room overlooking the gorgeous flowers that call Colombia home. Comfortable rooms and friendly staff allow for a great stay in the outskirts of Jardín.

As this is Jardín (Spanish for garden) we are talking about, looking around the property, you’ll see an endless diversity of plants. The trees and exotic flowers are spectacular against the backdrop of enormous Colombian mountains. The gardening job is heavenly; it seems this place has a lot of love put into it.

Along with the thousands of plant species, the hotel has unique decorations everywhere, something to appreciate as a nice break from industrialized hotels with white everything and staff that feels more like servants than friends. At Hosteria La Valdivia, it’s more about feeling at home while still getting a taste of something different.

The lake stands as a centerpiece to the 60 hectares (around 148 acres) of land the hotel owner utilizes for guests, though it was in construction while I stayed at the hotel with plans to finish an island in the center for bonfires within the next couple of months. Three streams and a small waterfall exists on the property and sits not far from the main building and a guide will bring you and snacks to enjoy the rushing water and gorgeous Colombian wildlife.

In case nature walks aren’t your or your family’s cup of tea, lots of kid-friendly features dot the huge property, including a trampoline, a kids play set, swings, a small soccer field, a volleyball net, and plenty of outdoor seating for the restaurant and barbecue. They even have a gorgeous and colorful vivero, Spanish for plant nursery. It really displays the talent and ambition this place employed for their hotel.

The owner was interested to know what I liked and on what could be improved, which honestly was difficult to find. It shows me a lot when business owners care about how they could better their business for the benefit of their clients. With plans to add a jacuzzi, a sauna, and a steam room in addition to the lake, the hotel is kept busy working to accommodate guest recommendations.

Staff was super friendly and accommodating, making sure I had all that I needed. As this hotel sits about a 5-10 minute Tuk Tuk ride from the center of Jardin, it is more geared toward guests looking to escape the hustle bustle of city life looking to enjoy nature and fresh mountain air. It might be a bit more difficult for guests without reliable transportation looking to explore the center of town, though taxis and Tuk Tuks can be easily arranged.

The lively restaurant on-site has delicious and popular Colombian food accompanied by traditional decorations and music typical to Colombia. This place has done a great job of showing me they take pride in their customer’s satisfaction through any means necessary, from the clever wall pieces to the enormous amount of landscaping this place accomplishes, but pictures can tell a better story…






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Accommodation and meal was kindly provided by La Hosteria Valdivia, but all opinions, photography and spelling mistakes are my own 🙂

Tour A Colombian Coffee Farm – Jericó, Colombia

Straight from a storybook came Gabriel and Estela, a happy and healthy older couple living and breathing a remote Colombian coffee farm. They cultivate their crops and land so that their land can cultivate them.

Gabriel and Estela make extra money doing coffee tours through a local coffee shop in Jericó, Colombia called El Saturia. I booked mine with Las Cometas Hostel (click here for $20 off Booking.com for the both of us – for new Booking.com accounts). They took us through the coffee-making process, something I had no idea took over a year to finish! Coffee has never tasted so delicious after seeing the process involved in making a simple cup, from soil to sip.

The tour begins at El Saturia, a coffee shop, though not just any coffee shop. Buy a cup of coffee and you’ll learn a cliff-notes version of the coffee-making process with props and everything, along with the coffee steeping process of your choice. Buy a cappuccino and you will learn how to create one of those fancy drawings you always see in the foamy milk on top.

The owner and staff are friendly and like to have fun on the job. I got to know El Saturia’s owner who is the perfect man for the job. He enjoys his life a lot here in Jericó, the perfect indicator of a good business owner. Real Colombian coffee is their specialty – something to truly savor, as the coffee comes from hardworking farmers who love their craft, something you’ll probably notice in the taste & body of the coffee.

 

 

Purchase a coffee tour with El Saturia and ask to have it with Gabriel. He is a unique and gentle man with eyes, mind, and ears still sharp despite his age. His land takes care of him and his family and he takes care of his land. The farm has a certain taste of paradise…

Gabriel and his family use the land for food and medicine. Gabriel would go take a small leaf from a plant, rub it between his fingers to release the oils, and let us smell while telling us the uses, whether medicinal or for food. Coming from a country who uses prescription pills and chemicals up the wazoo, this was refreshing to see, especially observing how smart this couple is. They seemed to know every plant up, down, and all around their farm.

 

 

Gabriel began the tour with a cup of organic coffee & a light touch to his little dog’s foot, sparking a frenzy of her running around in circles chasing her tail. With all of us cracking up at something so silly, the tour started off on a good note. Gabriel showed us first how to plant the coffee beans;

How to plant a baby coffee tree…

 

 

How to collect coffee beans, both red and yellow… did you know you can eat the fruit on the outside of a coffee bean? It’s slimy and sweet and mom would approve of the health benefits 😉

How to take the shells off of coffee beans…

 

 

How to dry the coffee beans in the sun…

 

 

Dried coffee beans – Photo by Maxime (click the photo to be directed to his blog)

 

How to roast the coffee beans…

 

 

How to steep the coffee beans in hot water…

 

 

 

And how to sip an authentic cup of organic-grown coffee. It was that much more satisfying after watching the entire long process finish.

 

 

BAM! Organic coffee from Heaven’s backyard. To book the tour and see the decades worth of love this family has put into their land, check out El Saturia.

 

The coffee and tour was kindly provided by El Saturia, but all opinions, photography and spelling mistakes are mine alone 🙂

La Gruta Restaurante & Bar – Jericó, Colombia

What I ate:

Colombians have all sorts of names for traditional dishes and I almost never know what to order because there are so many, so I let my friend from El Saturia, a coffee shop near where I am staying in Jericó decide:

Beef–I know I sort of vouch for vegetarians, but it’s worth noting that I have heard Jericó treats their cows very well, feeds them adequate sunshine and good grass, and they look like the happiest and healthiest cows in result–yuca and potato with tomato sauce, white rice, and a salad.

What I loved:

The traditions. Not just in the embellishments and decorations, but in the local customers and the fooooood! Seriously, La Gruta has food straight from a Colombian mother’s kitchen; I died and went to heaven when I tasted the buttery soft yuca with tomato sauce.

The beef, potato, and yuca were covered in a light tomato sauce. The white rice was left white, and the avocado was the perfect touch to the salty side of the dish. The sweet was the salad dressing atop lettuce and repollo (cabbage).

 

 

 

What could have been better:

I’m a girl who loves color, and there definitely could have been more here, given all the wood this place was sporting. Jericó is known for its colors, as well, so I was surprised.

Really, that’s all I got on the bad stuff. It was a delish dish with great company. Located on the street next to the big brown church at the plaza, next to the “bus station” (which is more of a bus street) of Jericó, check out La Gruta if you’re looking to get a local Jericoan vibe and quality food.

 

This meal was kindly provided by La Gruta, but all opinions, photography and spelling mistakes are my own!