Gabar Goes Global: My Experience with the Only Black-Owned Tourism Company in Colombia

Hi everyone! Welcome back to GabarIskuFilan—a radical feminist solo female travel blog. Recently, I posted about my upcoming trip to Trinidad & Tobago. I launched GabarIskuFilan to document my solo travel experiences across the African diaspora. In Colombia, I was able to support the only Black-owned tourism company. Real Cartagena Tours was founded by Alex Rocha. Real Cartagena Tours focuses on uplifting the narratives of Afro-Colombians in Cartagena.

Cartagena was the first slave port city in South America. Learning about the resistance of enslaved Africans, meeting the people of Palenque and supporting a Black-owned business were just a few of my highlights from Colombia. I  booked two tours with Real Cartagena Tours. The first one was a half-day trip to the Rosario Islands. Then, I went on their most popular: the Palanque Tour.

Since I was the only person who booked the Rosario Islands tour, Alex personally picked me up from my hotel and accompanied me while I checked in at the dock. During our car ride, we discussed the Afro-Colombian experience as it relates to the US. I expressed my frustrations with being perceived as a tourist. This is why I travel. Those intimate moments of connection are priceless. Both tours included round-trip transportation, entry fees, and lunch. The food was impeccable. 

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Cartagena, Colombia

Real Cartagena Tours boasts 9 unique tours ranging from a volcano mud bath to a party bus. You can go on a walking tour of Cartagena’s history as it pertains to slavery, sample delectable fruits, and even go snorkeling. I felt like royalty! Alex went out of his way to ensure I was comfortable. When I return to Colombia, I really want to visit Santa Marta, San Andres, and Cali—all of which also have a considerable Black population.

I went to Colombia in April 2018, but I cannot stop thinking about it. Very few places have left such an enormous impact on my life. Even when things didn’t go accordingly, I felt incredibly lucky to experience Colombia. Traveling to Colombia changed my life forever. I returned with more clarity, appreciation, and determination to create the life I actually want. Solo travel has taught me more about myself than anything else.

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Me and my girls!

I look forward to documenting my future travels across the African diaspora here. I’m particularly excited about Trinidad & Tobago. I promise to post more regularly! I also understand that my blog is dangerous in the sense that I’m an ex-Muslim woman. I understand if you have to read my blog from an anonymous search engine. Do whatever makes you feel safe. But I will never stop writing. I will always speak truth to power. Obviously, we are in need of voices to challenge and disrupt oppression. Here’s to more solo female travel in 2020 and beyond!

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