Experience South America's best kept secret on this tour of Colombia

Discover South America's best-kept secret on this 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 much misunderstood country. Discover Bogota's colonial heart, laze on palm-fringed stretches of Caribbean shoreline and meet the locals that make Colombia one of the world's friendliest countries. 
 

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Terms & Conditions

Start
Bogota, Colombia
Finish
Bogota, Colombia
Country
Colombia
Style
Original
Theme
Explorer
Code
GGSSC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why we love this trip

  • Spend a couple of days learning about the world's favourite bean during a stay on a traditional coffee estancia deep in Colombia's coffee country

  • Wander beneath the floral balconies of Cartagena, the World Heritage-listed town combining Carribean splendour and irresistable old-world charm

  • Tayrona National Park seems to have it all, from perfect beaches and mountain backdrops to wildlife-filled jungle. Laze in a hammock as dusky titi monkeys and red squirrels play in the treetops

  • Discover the new face of Medellin, a city offering scenic cable-car rides, world-class cuisine and a pulsating nightlife

Is this trip right for you?

  • There's one night of camping – in the awesome Tayrona National Park. Be prepared for basic conditions in this jungle location. Sleeping in a hammock among the buzzing South American wild is sure to be well worth the lack of creature comforts.

  • Colombia enjoys a stable year-round climate, but it can get particularly hot and humid on the coast. Be sure to drink plenty of water and wear adequate sun protectionThe Cocora Valley hike is quite rigorous, so you'll need to be fit and have sturdy walking shoes. If you'd rather relax, you're free to opt out of this activity and soak up the scenery at your leisure.

Itinerary

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 a welcome meeting at 2pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where your group meeting will take place. 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. Afterwards, your leader will take you on an orientation walk around your hotel. You're then free to explore as you please. Perhaps take the gondola up the Cerro de Monserrate, where a 17th-century church overlooks the town. Museo Nacional is a good option if you're interested in learning about life in Colombia before and after the Spanish conquest.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Bogota - Orientation walk of hotel neighbourhood
Optional Activities
  • Bogota - Museo Nacional - COP20000
  • Bogota - Bike tour - COP25000
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time for the welcome meeting, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
Enjoy a free morning in Bogota. Around lunch time take a short flight (1 hour) to Armenia and transfer (approximately 40min) 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 many 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! If you're game, you'll have the option to visit the local tejo hall and give it a go.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Salento - Tejo game - USD1
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
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.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
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 and 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.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Today you will travel via comfortable public bus (approximately 6 hours) to Medellin. Your leader will take you on an orientation walk of this beautiful city. Along the way, learn a little more about the town's interesting recent history. Having spent the 1980s and 90s with an international reputation as one of the world's most dangerous cities (thanks 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.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Medellin - Orientation walk
Optional Activities
  • Medellin - Metrocable - COP1900
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Make an early start and join your leader on a morning visit to Plaza Minorista Market. The market is divided into distinct areas: flowers; fruit, vegetables, and herbs; and meat and fish. Take the opportunity to buy some exotic local fruits like feijoa, araza, guanabana, maracuya and lulo – many of which are seldom found outside of Colombia.
After lunch, enjoy breathtaking views of Medellin and its surrounds during a cable car ride up to Santa Elena, a beautiful town nestled in the mountains just east of the city. 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. Santa Elena is also known for its extravagant arrangements of colourful flowers, called silletas, which the local farmers are fond of strapping to their backs and parading through the city come August's annual flower festival. Back in Medellin, you might want to search out one of the city's lively salsa bars (many count Medellin's nightlife as the best in Colombia).
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Medellin - Visit to Parque Arví by Cable Car
  • Visita to Plaza Minorista Market Medellin
Optional Activities
  • Pablo Escobar Tour - COP50000
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Enjoy a free day getting to know Medellin. Visit the Museo de Antioquia to see some of Botero's famous works or get more modern at the beautiful Museo de Arte Moderno. Alternatively, venture further afield on an optional day trip to Santa Fe de Antioquia. This 16th-century township has maintained much of its colonial-era charm, its narrow streets and leafy central plazas providing plenty of places to relax away from the midday heat. The Bridge of the West, Metropolitan Cathedral and House of Two Palms are certain to impress, and the plaza is also home to a daily market where vendors sell various varieties of locally-grown Tamarind product (be sure to try a few samples). One of the greatest pleasures here is simply pottering through the town's cobblestone streets and taking in the local scene.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Fly to Cartagena (approximately 1 hour). Cartagena is one of South America's most historic cities. The leader will take you on a short orientation walk around the hotel. Afterwards, we recommend you explore the old city by yourselves, particularly the inner walled town, is the main attraction – it's packed with beautiful churches, monasteries, plazas and mansions. This town, founded in 1533 by Spaniard Don Pedro de Heredia, was a major centre of early Spanish settlement in the Americas. Its gold and silver exports made it a popular target for pirates, and its walled fort (now on UNESCO's World Heritage list) was built to protect both shipping and the slave trade. Perhaps visit San Felipe de Barajas Castle, the largest of the fortresses, or head out of town for a mud bath at Volcan de Lodo El Totumo. The nearby group of tiny coral islands and stunning expanses of Playa Blanca (White Beach) reveal the hidden beauty of Colombia's Caribbean coast. Maybe end this adventure people-watching in the heart of Getsemaní, Plaza de la Trinidad, where kids play football and singers strum their guitars.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Cartagena - Orientation walk of hotel neighbourhood
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Your hotel in Cartagena doesn't provide hot water. Thankfully, this isn't much of a problem in the tropical heat on the coast.

Some departures of this trip are part of a combination trip. As such, some of your fellow travellers may have started their trip 7 days ago in Bogota on Best of Colombia (GGSSC).
Enjoy a free day getting to know Cartagena's Old City under your own steam. Shop for local handicrafts, head up to San Felipe de Barajas Castle (the largest of the city's fortresses), or perhaps head out of town to the Volcan de Lodo El Totumo. Instead of lava, this strange volcano emits a cream-like mud that is said to contain many healing properties. Enter for a wallow, then wash the muddy goodness off in the nearby lagoon.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Cartagena - San Felipe de Barajas - COP20000
  • Cartagena - Day Trip to Playa Blanca - COP50000
  • Cartagena - Volcan de Lodo El Totumo - COP50000
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Take a shared van early in the morning to Tayrona National Park, a protected plot of wilderness encircled by the massive Santa Maria mountain range on one side and picture-perfect Caribbean on the other. With the majority of the park only accessible by jungle trails, on arrival you'll need to walk for approximately one hour to tonight's accommodation: a sheltered camping area with hammocks. Small lockers are available for the safe storage of your valuables. Spend some time chilling out on the pure white sands, clambering along the boulders that strew the shore and taking dips in the warm waters. It can get quite cold here at night, so check the season and f necessary be sure to wear layers and bring a blanket or sleep liner. You'll also need a towel, insect repellent, a torch and small backpack for carrying your things in (your main luggage can be left at the park entrance).
Accommodation
  • Hammock (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Tayrona National Park - Entrance fee
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Spend the day exploring Tayrona National Park or chilling out beachside before making the short drive into the Guachaca region. Your accommodation for the next night is a small, family-run hotel in a peaceful location. A range of walking trails start out from here, though the main attraction is the nearby beach. Just a short stroll from your hotel, this is the perfect place to kick back and relax seaside.
Accommodation
  • Family Posada (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Enjoy a nice continental breakfast at the hotel, then spend the day relaxing. With the beach just a short walk away, you can come and go from the hotel quite conveniently. If you're feeling active, perhaps try some trekking. While the white sands and lovely clear waters of the beach are hard to beat, the hotel itself is also a nice place to spend some time, especially if the weather turns. You can take to one of the hammocks in the garden with a good book. In the evening afternoon transfer one hour to Santa Marta and catch an overnight bus (usually departs at 9:45pm) to San Gil (usually arriving at 11am).
Accommodation
  • Overnight bus (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Following an overnight bus ride, arrive in San Gil (approximately 11am), Colombia's outdoors capital. Usually it is too early to check-in so drop your bags at reception and head out to town to stretch your legs and have some coffee in the local market. Rest up and relax in the afternoon.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • San Gil - Visit to local Market - Free
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Make the most of a free day here. For those looking to spend their time in San Gil a little more leisurely, there's the option of walking along the river, seeking out the town's best bakeries and cafes, or simply taking a seat in the town's 300-year-old plaza and watching local life meander by.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
After breakfast, pack a little bag including sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, towel and some cash, before hopping on a local bus to a town called Curiti (approximately 20minutes). The highlight attraction of Curiti is Pescaderito, a natural configuration of swimming holes and water slides formed from rock. It's a 45-minute walk from Curiti to the first pool but as this would be along a main road you will taking local tuc tucs to get there (15minutes), after which the pools only get nicer the further upriver you go.

In the afternoon transfer 45minutes to Barichara. With its quaint, cobbled streets, stuccoed houses and verdant backdrop of rolling hills, Barichara is widely considered the prettiest and best-preserved colonial-style village in all Colombia.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • San Gil - Pescaderito Swimming hole
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
After breakfast, set out on a two-hour walk along the Camino Real to the village of Guane. This ancient walkway, which was declared a national monument in 1988, was built by the indigenous Guane people many centuries ago. The trail 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 before catching the local bus back to Barichara.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Barichara - Camino Real to Guane Hike
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
In the morning (approximately 7am), transfer three hours to Bucaramanga for the short one hour flight to Bogota (usually departing around midday). Resting among emerald, mist-shrouded mountains, Colombia's cosmopolitan capital is certain to delight. Upon arrival your leader will take you for an orientation walk around the area of your hotel. 
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Bogota - Orientation walk of hotel neighbourhood
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today, head up Cerro de Monserrate by cable car, where a 17th-century church overlooks the sprawling capital. Then meander through the colourful laneways of the city's historic heart, La Candelaria. Boasting a wealth of cosy cafes and colonial churches, this is a neighbourhood full of surprises. Next visit the Gold Museum to learn about the wealth this country once had. 
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Bogota - Montserrate cable car
  • Bogota - Gold Museum
Optional Activities
  • Bogota - Museo Nacional - COP20000
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are free to depart the accommodation at any time.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

16 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 4 dinners

Transport

Plane, private vehicle, local bus, overnight bus

Accommodation

Hotel (14 nights), Coffee Estancia (2 nights), Hammock (1 night), Overnight bus (1 night)

Included activities

  • Bogota - Orientation walk of hotel neighbourhood
  • Medellin - Orientation walk
  • Medellin - Visit to Parque Arví by Cable Car
  • Visita to Plaza Minorista Market Medellin
  • Cartagena - Orientation walk of hotel neighbourhood
  • Tayrona National Park - Entrance fee
  • San Gil - Pescaderito Swimming hole
  • Barichara - Camino Real to Guane Hike
  • Bogota - Montserrate cable car
  • Bogota - Gold Museum

Dates & availability

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There are currently no scheduled departures on our Best of Colombia trip. If you are interested in other trips in the region visit one of the links below.

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Important notes

PASSPORT:
We require full passport information at time of booking in order to purchase domestic flights which are included in the trip.

START TIME:
This trip starts with a Welcome Meeting at 2pm. If you are unable to find a suitable flight it is possible to book additional nights at the joining accommodation.

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT:
A Single Supplement to have your own room is available on this trip however excludes nights 3 & 4 (Coffee Estancia), 10 (Tayrona National Park), 11 (Guachaca Region) and 12 (Overnight bus) where you will be in shared accommodation.

COMBINATION TRIP:
This trip is a combination of twoof our most popular departures. As such the make up of the group and the tour leader may change on day 9.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

Reviews

Our Best of Colombia trips score an average of 4.8 out of 5 based on 5 reviews in the last year.

Best of Colombia, April 2017

Daniel Langdon

Best of Colombia, April 2017

Susan Granen