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Discover South America's best-kept secret on this 17-day adventure through the verdant mountains and powdery beaches of Colombia. Head into the serene highlands of Colombia's famed coffee region and discover the sweeter, softer side of this misunderstood country. Fall in love with Bogota's colonial heart, laze on palm-fringed stretches of Caribbean shoreline and hang with locals that redefine hospitality.
Day 1: Bogota
Bienvenidos! Welcome to Colombia. With a wealth of cosy cafes, interesting museums and old churches, cosmopolitan Bogota is full of surprises. Your adventure begins with an orientation walk of Candelaria at 1pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where your group will be meeting. There will be a formal welcome meeting at 6pm for the whole group including those that missed the orientation walk. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. After, why not go out for a group dinner?
Day 2: Salento
This morning, immerse your senses in the flavours and colours of Colombia on a visit the famed Paloquemao Market, home to Bogota’s biggest selection of exotic fruits, fresh vegetables and food stalls – perhaps indulge in a delicious Arepa (Colombian style tortilla). Around lunch time take a short flight (1 hour) to the coffee region and transfer (approximately 40 minutes) to the beautiful village of Salento. Take the time to stroll through its quaint streets and admire the colours of 'paisa' architecture at its best. For some local food, trout is the way to go. There are lots of ways to enjoy it, but it's most often served with a rich, garlicky cheese sauce. Colombia's national sport, tejo, is a popular pastime in Salento. Think bocce with gunpowder! This evening, try your hand at this fun activity with the group – made even better with a free beer in hand!
Day 3: Coffee Estancia
Travel by jeep out to the magnificent Cocora Valley, home of the towering wax palm (Colombia's national tree). Spend the morning walking among the region's incredible scenery, perhaps hiking up to Acaime Reserve where colourful hummingbirds feed. The hike to Acaime (approximately 5 hours) is quite strenuous, with some steep and slippery sections, so you'll need good walking shoes as well as plenty of water and snacks. A generous boxed lunch will be provided. If you'd rather take it easy, you can explore the valley as you please, then take a jeep back to town. Later, travel deep into Colombia's coffee region for a two-night stay in a traditional coffee estancia, where you'll have a unique opportunity to learn first-hand about this wonderful bean.
Day 4: Coffee Estancia
Thanks to its tropical altitude and fertile volcanic soil, Colombia is one of the world’s largest coffee producers. You’ll get to know this addictive little bean a whole lot better on a guided tour of the coffee plantation and processing centre. Dig into the history of the plant, learning the inside story of the industry that's long buoyed the country's economy. See how the beans are grown, harvested, processed, dried, roasted and ground, and then sample firsthand what all the fuss is about. Try different types of coffee grains and get a lesson on preparing different types of coffees – finishing it all off with a steaming cup of freshly brewed joe. Afterwards, relax amid the estancia's beautiful surrounds of sloping green hills and valleys.
Day 5: Medellin
This morning we will leave the Coffee Estancia and take a 1- hour transfer to the small town of Chinchina, where we will then board a comfortable public bus for the journey to Medellin (approximately 6-7 hours). Along the way, learn a little more about the town's interesting recent history. Having spent the 1980’s and 90’s with an international reputation as one of the world's most dangerous cities (due to Pablo Escobar's infamous drug cartel), Medellin has turned itself around to become one of the most exciting cities in South America. And with some of the country's finest museums, parks and architecture (as well as a much safer and comfortable atmosphere now) it's easy to see why its popularity is increasing. On arrival, explore this beautiful city on a an orientation walk with your leader, followed by free time this evening – why not check out some of Medellin’s famous nightlife!
Day 6: Medellin
Today you’ll enjoy breathtaking views of Medellin and its surrounds during a cable car ride up to Santa Elena. Sail up the mountain over brick houses, watching as the corrugated metal roofs give way to vistas of green valleys and forested peaks.Thanks to the elevation, things are usually a little cooler up here. Enjoy an include tour of a Flower Farm and when back in Medellin partake in a barrio transformation tour. This evening, you might want to search out one of the city's lively salsa bars (many count Medellin's nightlife as the best in Colombia).
Day 7: Medellin
Today is a free day. You'll have some free time to explore Medellin. Perhaps visit the Museo de Antioquia to see some of Botero's famous works or get more modern at the beautiful Museo de Arte Moderno.
Day 8: Cartagena
Cartagena is one of South America's most historic cities. The old city, particularly the inner walled town, is the main attraction – it's packed with beautiful churches, monasteries, plazas and mansions. Your hotel is located in the vibrant Getsemani neighbourhood, a part of the old town with loads of colourful street art and an authentic feel. Tonight there will be a meeting at 6 pm to meet new travelers who may be joining you for this next leg. After the meeting, step out for an orientation walk with your leader to get a feel for the city (note that this may take place tomorrow morning instead).
Day 9: Cartagena
Spend some free time getting to know the old and new of Cartagena. Wander the old city, shop for local handicrafts, head up to San Felipe de Barajas Castle (the largest of the city's fortresses) or take boat to Punta Arenas or Playa Blanca for a well-deserved swim in the Southern Caribbean. Otherwise, book yourself in a tour out of town to the Volcan de Lodo El Totumo. Instead of lava, this peculiar volcano spews a cream-like mud that is said to contain many healing properties. Enter for a strange bathing experience, then wash the muddiness off in the nearby lagoon. In the evening, perhaps head to one of Cartagena’s hippest eateries, Restaurante Interno. Housed in a women's prison, the restaurant opened in December 2016 with the aim of giving inmates skills and a higher likelihood of integrating back into society when their prison sentence is over. Local celebrities and even the Columbian president have eaten here, and while it isn’t a budget option, it is definitely a unique experience, and you’ll get an authentic Columbian meal.
Day 10: Guachaca
In the morning, take a shared van transfer (approximately 5 hours) north of Cartagena to Guachaca – your home for the next two nights. Guachaca is located in northern Columbia and is surrounded with lush jungle and mountains that collide with the sun-kissed coastline. It's the perfect spot to take the pace down a notch. Once you've arrived, the remainder of the day is free to explore (or relax!). Park yourself in a hammock with a book or make the short walk to the beach and get a load of that coastline. Your accommodation is a simple and comfortable family-run guesthouse, nestled high in the jungle. In the evening, enjoy a cocktail or two with your fellow travellers or treat yourself to a relaxing massage.
Day 11: Tayrona National Park / Guachaca Region
Head to Tayrona National Park – a series of jungle and coves surrounding the Caribbean coast on the foothills of the Santa Marta mountains. Today is all about hiking the forest trails for Tayrona’s beaches, and with a fair amount of hiking involved today, be prepared and make sure your walking shoes are on and you’ve packed some bug spray. Along the way, you’ll experience lush the green rainforest, the ambience of the jungle and all wildlife that inhabit it, and the special glimpses of coastline and beaches that peek through the canopies. The trail to stunning Cabo San Juan is well worth the effort; it's further away than some other beaches however highly recommended. The hike today is flexible and can be tailored to suit all fitness and energy levels. There can be some steep ups and downs, and some muddy spots if it’s been raining, so your group leader can organise a route that pleases everyone. When you’ve had enough hiking, swimming and relaxing, head back to Guachaca for the evening.
Day 12: Guachaca Region / Barichara
Enjoy a final morning in your jungle haven, perhaps rising early to see the sunrise from the beach. After a continental breakfast, head off for an included flight from Santa Martha to Bucaramanga (approximately 3.5 hours including a stop in Bogota). From Bucaramanga, transfer to Barichara (approximately 3 hours). With its quaint cobbled streets, stuccoed houses and hilly backdrop, Barichara is probably the prettiest colonial-style village in all of Colombia. Today is a relatively long travel day, so spend some time relaxing this evening.
Day 13: Barichara
With some free time, spend today however you please. Barichara means ‘resting place’ in the local indigenous language and is itself a fine place to wander around on foot, with its laidback feel and range of shops and artisanal workshops to explore. If you'd like to get more active, head over to San Gil, the thrill-seeking capital of Colombia (approximately 30 minutes' drive). Speak to your group leader for suggestions of things to do – rafting, paragliding and caving – it’s an adventure sport hub. The Pescaderito swimming hole on the way there is well worth a visit too; even if the water is a little chilly, it's an idyllic spot to relax for an hour or two.
Day 14: Barichara
After breakfast, head to a local factory where you’ll learn the traditional method of making paper from the natural fibres of the Andean fique plant. This factory is the number one employer in Barichara, which began with the aim to financially support single-parent women who previously did not have any promise of work. Afterwards, set out on a 2-hour walk along the Camino Real to the village of Guane. Declared a national monument in 1988, the ancient trail was built by the indigenous Guane people as a trade route between towns, and you’ll be hiking a small section between Barichara and Guane. The walk is stunning, full of panoramic views of the mountain ranges. It starts off with a gentle descent down the rim of a canyon before crossing a valley filled with cacti. The walking is mostly downhill, and you'll likely spot a few fossils embedded in the stones that pave the trail en route. On arrival in Guane, refresh with a cooling drink, soak up the peaceful atmosphere and perhaps check out the town’s church, before catching the local bus back to Barichara.
Day 15: Bogota
Today you’ll travel by local bus to Bogota via San Gil (approximately 8 hours), so kick back and enjoy the drive as the scenery rolls by. There will be only the one stop along the way, so ensure you take drinks and snacks for the journey. Your hotel in Bogota is located in the Chapinero neighbourhood, one of the most culturally diverse parts of town.
Day 16: Bogota
Time for some exploring – today, you’ll check out a couple of essential local spots in Bogota. One is La Candelaria, the historic heart of the city. Boasting a wealth of cosy cafes and colonial churches, it's a neighbourhood full of surprises. As well as loads of museums, art and great food to try, it's also just a beautiful town to walk around, an interesting clash of the old and new. You’ll also head to the Gold Museum for a chance to learn about the wealth this country once had. Fascinating and easy to navigate, the museum has 55,000 artefacts from various eras on display. During the day, you will also learn about Columbia’s turbulent past on a ‘War and Peace’ tour, which outlines their history of war, including political assassinations and armed groups in conflict, and how the country has developed into the situation it finds itself now. There will also be an opportunity to head up Cerro de Monserrate by cable car, where a 17th-century church overlooks the capital. It's a great place to watch the sunset across the sprawling city.
Day 17: Bogota
After an included breakfast, there are no planned activities today and no accommodation planned at night. If you wish to spend more time in Bogota, we’ll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
- Bogota - Leader led Orientation walk in Candelaria neigborhood
- Salento - Tejo game
- Bogota - Visit to Paloquemao market
- Coffee plantation tour, coffee tasting and coffee making
- Barrio Transformation Tour
- Medellin - Flower Farm tour
- Metrocable to Acevedo station and up to Santa Elena
- Cartagena - Orientation walk of hotel neighbourhood
- Tayrona National Park - Entrance fee
- Barichara - Walk along Camino Real to the village 'Guane'
13 Breakfast(s) Included
3 Lunch(es) Included
4 Dinner(s) Included
Question: How many suitcases can I take with me on my trip?
Question: Is Airfare Included in the Price?
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The trip was both both educational and exciting. I very much enjoyed the sights and culture.
The itinerary was just as I expected! The guide was very good as were the accomodations
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Our guide Tarang chandola was exceptional. Courteous, knowledgeable, organized, polite, professional and went above and beyond taking care of our needs and requests offen anticipating what that might be. He made sure we all had the best possible time and offered suggestions to meet the needs of everyone on the tour. This made the trip even more enjoyable.
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