Experience the beauty and vibrancy of enigmatic Colombia

Head into the serene highlands of Colombia's famed coffee region and discover the sweeter, softer side of this much misunderstood country. Learn how to roast the perfect blend during a tour of a working coffee plantation, be beguiled by the laidback pace of charming Salento and spend some time becoming acquainted with the sophisticated air and raucous nightlife of Medellin. Then trade the country's lush interior for its coastal spoils and wind the adventure up with a spell in oh-so-romantic Cartagena – the perfect end to this exceptional Colombian adventure.

TRIP CHANGES FOR 2017:

There will be some minor improvements to the Cafe Colombia itinerary in 2017.

We will spend 2 night at a traditional estancia in Colombia's vibrant coffee region (replacing 2 nights in Salento), Your stay will include a tour of the coffee plantation and processing centre, as well as a lesson on preparing different types of coffee. We will also stay an extra night in Medellin, so you have more time to explore the city. As a result the overall trip length will be 9 days:

The 2017 itinerary will operate as follows:

Day 1 Bogota
Day 2 Salento
Day 3 Cocora Valley Hike / Coffee Estancia
Day 4 Coffee Estancia
Days 5-7 Medellin
Days 8-9 Cartagena

Start
Bogota, Colombia
Finish
Cartagena, Colombia
Countries
Colombia
Themes
Explorer
Code
GGSS
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 12
Carbon offset
361kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Bogota is the treasure trove of Colombia's rich history. Explore its museums and galleries at your leisure, then tour its excellent Paloquemao Market
  • Delve deep into the Cocora Valley on a spectacular guided hike. Here you'll be greeted by hummingbirds and snap photos of the world's tallest palm trees
  • Tour a coffee plantation on the beautiful jungle fringes of Salento and top it off by tasting some local varieties
  • Discover the new face of Medellin, with its pulsing nightlife, scenic cable-car rides and world-class cuisine
  • Explore the cobbled alleys of Cartagena, the World Heritage-listed town combining Carribean splendour and irresistable old-world charm

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 2 pm. 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 in downtown Bogota. 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.

Notes: 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). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception.
Make an early start and join your leader on a morning visit to Paloquemao Market. The market is divided into distinct areas: flowers; fruit, vegetables, and herbs; and meat and fish. Take the opportunity to sample some exotic local fruits like feijoa, araza, guanabana, maracuya and lulo – many of which are seldom found outside of Colombia. Later, take a short flight to Armenia and transfer 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.
Take a jeep out to the magnificent Cocora Valley, home of the towering wax palm, the national tree of Colombia. Spend the morning walking among the incredible scenery. You will hike up to Acaime Reserve where colourful hummingbirds come to 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 expore the valley as you please, then take a jeep back to town. Later, return to Salento, where's there's time for further exploration. Take the chance to visit a tejo hall and try Colombia's beloved national sport – it's like bocce with gunpowder! Enjoy dinner with the group in a local restaurant.
Today you'll get a behind-the-scenes look at Colombian coffee production. Head out of town to the Jesus Martin coffee plantation and processing centre. Here you'll be taken through what happens at farm level, learning a thing or two about the grain itself and the hard work that goes into its harvesting (approximately 3–4 hours). Then you'll be shown in depth how the beans are processed in the small factory (approximately 2 hours). Lastly, at the store, you'll see the final product, richly aromatic, and enjoy a tasting. Kick back, relax and enjoy a cup or two.
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.
Enjoy a free day to explore Medellin. A great short trip is to take a cable car to St Elena, a beautiful town just east of Medellin. It's nestled up in the side of the mountains. The town is known for its immense arrangements of local flowers (silletas). It's usually a little cooler up there, thanks to the elevation. Alternatively, venture further afield with an optional day trip to Santa Fe de Antioquia. This 16th-century township boasts some of the best-preserved colonial buildings in the region. Here the Bridge of the West, Metropolitan Cathedral and the House of Two Palms are sure to impress.
Fly to Cartagena (approximately 1 hour). 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 and relax in the mud bath at Volcan de Lodo El Totumo. Your hotel in Cartagena doesn't provide hot water, which thankfully isn't a problem due to the tropical heat on the coast.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are free to depart the accommodation at any time.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
7 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 1 dinner
Transport
Plane, Local bus, Private minivan
Accommodation
Hotel (7 nights)
Included activities
  • Bogota - Visit to Paloquemao Market
  • Salento - Cocora Valley and hike to Acaime Reserve
  • Salento - Coffee tour
  • Leader-led walking tour

Dates

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Important notes

The itinerary of this trip was updated on 18 January, 2016. The current itinerary is different to what is advertised in the 2016 brochure.

A single supplement is available on this trip.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide 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.

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Reviews

Our Cafe Colombia trips score an average of 4.69 out of 5 based on 51 reviews in the last year.

Cafe Colombia , June 2016

Cafe Colombia , May 2016