Travel forces us to constantly learn about and adjust to new surroundings. Processes we take for granted in our home country are often nonexistent in other countries, so we have to pull up short and find a solution to problems. When we arrive in a new city, one of the first questions we ask is, “How are we going to get around?” That’s how we found ourselves in Cartagena, Colombia, wondering if Uber works.
The short answer: not really
You may not have a lot of time, so let’s get you a quick answer to your question. While Uber does exist in Cartagena, it is not a reliable means of transportation.
We’ve received all kinds of conflicting information from Cartageneros about Uber. One person said the app is illegal in the city. Another person said no, Uber works just fine.
So we tried it. We were able to enter our location and destination, and Uber showed how much it would cost to get our ride. But when the app tried to connect to a driver, nothing happened. We were caught in an endless cycle, and ended up exiting the app.
Our experience with Uber lines up with what we’ve heard from friends who have visited Cartagena. Some of them were able to connect with a driver, but their driver ended up canceling and overall it was a unreliable transportation option.
Okay, so what do you use to get around in Cartagena instead of Uber?
We’ve established Uber doesn’t work well in Cartagena. So what now?
By asking around, we quickly learned about an app called inDrive. InDrive is the ridesharing app everyone uses in Cartagena.
We’ve been using inDrive every day for about a week now, and we’ve had nothing but good experiences.
What you should know about using inDrive
There are some features that make inDrive different from Uber. Keep reading to find out what they are and have a better experience using the app.
Set your own fare
With inDrive, you set your own fare. It is not automatically set like on Uber.
InDrive suggests a fare, and you choose to bid less or more. We’re in the habit of paying 10,000 Colombian pesos (COP) per ride, which currently equals $2.10 USD. This is slightly higher than what inDrive suggests, which means our request is likely to get chosen more quickly.
While the app is searching for a driver, you can change your fare price. Say it’s taking a while to get a driver. You can click a button to add 500 pesos ($0.10 USD) to your bid in hopes of getting a driver faster.
After using inDrive 8 times as of this writing, the most we’ve paid is 15,000 COP. That was to go from Mallplaza to El Centro when the streets were flooded and it was raining. Like I mentioned, we’ve paid 10,000 COP for every other ride.
Pay with cash, not credit card
This is important for those of you used to Uber. With inDrive, you do not pay with a credit card. You need to pay cash.
However, you do not necessarily need exact change. When we first arrived in Cartagena, we only had big bills from the ATM machine. So we added a comment to tell our driver what bill we’d be paying with, so he knew how much change we’d need.
This might go without saying, but you need to write any comments to your driver in Spanish.
Like Uber, inDrive shows your driver’s license plate
Once you’ve been matched with a driver, inDrive shows the car type and license plate to look for. On the busy streets of Cartagena, this is very helpful.
Not as full-featured as Uber
Overall, you should be aware that inDrive is not as advanced of an app as Uber. The one issue we’ve had (more than once) is drivers asking where we’re going once we’re in the car. We’re not sure why this is. But it seems to be because inDrive does not provide step-by-step directions for drivers like Uber does.
Our solution is to have Google Map directions pulled up on our phone. Here are some Spanish phrases to know:
- A la derecha – to the right
- A la izquierda – to the left
- Sigues derecho – continue straight
It may make you uncomfortable to imagine giving directions to your driver in Spanish, but embrace the adventure. It will be okay!
Why not use a taxi?
Taxis are all over the place in Cartagena and are definitely a transportation option to consider. We prefer inDrive for these reasons:
- Fare is already agreed to
- Driver has our destination (even if directions can be tricky, as we mentioned before)
- Though we’ve had no security issues in Cartagena, inDrive provides an electronic record of our initial location and destination
Actually, some taxi drivers in Cartagena use inDrive to find customers. So don’t be surprised if a taxi stops to pick you up.
Enjoy this beautiful city!
We hope this information makes your visit to Cartagena even better. We are here waiting for our Jeep to arrive by container ship from Panamá, so our family can begin a 2-3 year drive through South America. We are excited about what comes next, but we are also loving Cartagena. We’re not in any hurry to leave, and we think you’ll love it here, too.