Travel to Colombia and discover a flourishing, vibrant country

Be a part of Colombia's revival on this exciting overland adventure. Travel through the Colombian countryside and discover quaint cities, coffee plantations, sleepy seaside towns and grand volcanic landscapes. With lots of opportunity to interact with outgoing, friendly locals, this is a great chance to have a genuine travel experience to talk about for years to come. Taking in the best spots and attractions of this fascinating country, this trip provides a unique insight into a nation that is rapidly evolving. Visit Colombia and be touched by the authenticity of this flourishing country before finishing the adventure in Ecuador's capital, Quito.

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Terms & Conditions

Start
Cartagena, Colombia
Finish
Quito, Ecuador
Destinations
Colombia, Ecuador
Style
Basix
Theme
Overland
Code
GDOW
Physical rating
Ages
Min 18
Group size
Min 4, Max 22

Why you'll love this trip

  • Wander through the fairytale city of Cartagena

  • Relax by the calm lake waters that lap at the town of Guatape

  • Travel to Medellin and learn about Colombia's chequered past

  • Get a caffeine-fix at a plantation in Manizales

  • Wonder at Santuario de Las Lajas, a hidden Colombian highlight

  • Walk through colourful textile markets

  • Join the cafe culture of Quito

Itinerary

Border Information: if joining in Cartagena, you will most likely enter Colombia at Cartagena Rafael Núñez International Airport (IATA code: CTG).

There will be an important group meeting at 6:00 p.m at the joining hotel - Please look out at the hotel reception for a note from your leader with more details about this important meeting.

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Cartagena before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Cartagena.

In Cartagena we stay in a comfortable hotel just outside the historical centre.

If you are continuing on from Panama, then your leader will have assisted you with airport transfers for your included flight to arrive in time for the joining meeting.

Hotel for the night:
Villa Colonial Villa Colonial
Calle de Maravillas (C10) No. 30-60
Getsemani
Cartagena
Colombia
Tel - +57 664 4996

About Cartagena:
Cartagena is one of the most historic cities in South America - legendary for both for its history and beauty, Cartagena is often one of the favorite destinations of most travelers who visit it. The area has been inhabited by various native civilizations for thousands of years before the city was founded in 1533 CE by Spanish conquistador Pedro De Heredia - the settlement was named after the city of Cartagena in Spain, where most of Heredia's sailors were from. Having suffered a tumultuous past full of battles, raids, invasions, destructions and reconstructions, the city became heavily fortified and huge defensive walls surround its narrow cobbled streets and colonial buildings. The city is made up of various districts - the new town with its high rise hotels, apartments and nightspots, and the older colonial parts of the city. The old city is the main attraction for visitors, particularly the inner walled town which is packed with churches, monasteries, plazas and mansions. 
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today we will have a full day in the beautiful coastal colonial city of Cartagena.

In the morning we will have an included walking tour of the city, and then the afternoon will be free to explore the city further, enjoy the many optional activities on offer, or simply relax on the beach. 

OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES 

Discover the brutal history of the Spanish Inquisition at their former headquarters in Cartagena, the Palace of the Inquistion : COP 15000

Learn all about Cartagena's naval tradition and history at the Naval Museum of the Caribbean : COP 15000 

Visit the historic coastal Spanish fortress of Castillo San Felipe : COP 17000 

INCLUDED ACTIVITIES 

Freely explore the fascinating colonial city of Cartagena or learn all about its incredible history on a guided walking tour : Included in Kitty

Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today ( Day 3 and 4 ) we have a short drive to Tayrona, one of the most popular national parks in Colombia. Leaving our main luggage stored on the truck, we take a day pack/night-bag and go on a moderate walk in to the park to where we will stay. Mules to carry your luggage can be hired at an extra cost.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

The following day is a free day to explore this stunning coastal park. We have the opportunity to trek to El Pueblito, a pre-Hispanic settlement of the Tayrona people, do some snorkeling, or just relax on the beautiful beaches.

In Tayrona National Park we will stay in rented hammocks. The hammocks are equipped with mosquito nets but please note that the nets are not treated with Permethrin or similar pesticides.

There is also an option to bring tents if you prefer to stay in a tent rather than a hammock, but please note that mules will have to ber hired to carry your tent, at an extra cost.

OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES 

Relax and unwind on the stunning unspoilt beaches of Colombia's Tayrona National Park : Free

Discover some of Tayrona's abundant species of fish and aquatic plants by snorkeling in the calmer areas of the ocean along the coast : Free

Freely explore some of Tayrona National Park's scenic walking trails, including a hike to the mysterious ancient ruins of Pueblito hidden in the jungles high above the coastline : Free 

About Tayrona National Park:
Tayrona National Park is a wonderful protected area on the northern coast of Colombia, which contains a huge diversity of animal and plant species including 2000 species of animals and 800 types of plants. This is in part due to the variation in geology of the area - at sea level the climate is arid and the rugged coastline has some excellent beaches and coves, but the terrain quickly rises as you travel inland, where we find a subtropical climate and cloud forests on the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The National Park can be thoroughly explored on foot as there are many winding trails through the incredible scenery. Further biodiversity is present offshore in the warm water of the coral reefs, which offer an excellent opportunity for snorkeling and swimming. 
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today ( Day 3 and 4 ) we have a short drive to Tayrona, one of the most popular national parks in Colombia. Leaving our main luggage stored on the truck, we take a day pack/night-bag and go on a moderate walk in to the park to where we will stay. Mules to carry your luggage can be hired at an extra cost.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

The following day is a free day to explore this stunning coastal park. We have the opportunity to trek to El Pueblito, a pre-Hispanic settlement of the Tayrona people, do some snorkeling, or just relax on the beautiful beaches.

In Tayrona National Park we will stay in rented hammocks. The hammocks are equipped with mosquito nets but please note that the nets are not treated with Permethrin or similar pesticides.

There is also an option to bring tents if you prefer to stay in a tent rather than a hammock, but please note that mules will have to ber hired to carry your tent, at an extra cost.

OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES 

Relax and unwind on the stunning unspoilt beaches of Colombia's Tayrona National Park : Free

Discover some of Tayrona's abundant species of fish and aquatic plants by snorkeling in the calmer areas of the ocean along the coast : Free

Freely explore some of Tayrona National Park's scenic walking trails, including a hike to the mysterious ancient ruins of Pueblito hidden in the jungles high above the coastline : Free 

About Tayrona National Park:
Tayrona National Park is a wonderful protected area on the northern coast of Colombia, which contains a huge diversity of animal and plant species including 2000 species of animals and 800 types of plants. This is in part due to the variation in geology of the area - at sea level the climate is arid and the rugged coastline has some excellent beaches and coves, but the terrain quickly rises as you travel inland, where we find a subtropical climate and cloud forests on the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The National Park can be thoroughly explored on foot as there are many winding trails through the incredible scenery. Further biodiversity is present offshore in the warm water of the coral reefs, which offer an excellent opportunity for snorkeling and swimming. 
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.


This morning we will walk back to our truck and leave Tayrona National park. We will head south for the pretty colonial town of Santa Cruz de Lorica on the Sinu River.

We will have a free day to relax and discover the historic centre, learn about the traditional Vueltiao hat or head to the coast and soak up the sun in San Bernardo del Viento.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (2 nights)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today we will have a full day's drive to the vibrant city of Medellín, where we will spend 3 nights.

Estimated Drive Time - 9-11 hours.

On our first full day in Medellín we will have a guided walking tour of the city, and our second day will be free time to independently explore the town, its parks, churches, and museums.

In Medellín we will stay in dormitory accommodation in a centrally-located hostel, allowing you to enjoy the exciting nightlife of the city.

OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES 

Head out of Medellín to explore the nearby charming old town of Santa Fe de Antioquia, and visit its old churches and tamarind markets : COP 3000

Take the pioneering Metroline cable car up to Santo Domingo, to see a very different area of the city and the revitalising effect the Metroline has had on the communities there : COP 1750

Visit the colossal Catedral Metropolitana in the city centre, built using over a million bricks between 1875 and 1931 : Free

See Medellín's perfect blend of art, culture, and history by visiting the Plaza Botero and the nearby Museo de Antioquia and the Rafael Uribe Palacio de la Cultura : COP 10000

Relax and unwind on a stroll though the Medellín's gorgeous Botanical Gardens, and discover some of its 1000 different floral species on display : COP 2500

Explore the beautiful model Antioquian village of Pueblito Paisa and the interesting sculpture park at Nutibara Hill : Free

Explore the Museum of the University of Antioquia, and marvel at its collection of visual arts, anthropological exhibits, and over 20,000 pieces of pre-Colombian ceramics : Free  

Head out and discover some of Medellín's vibrant and unusual nightlife at the Dulce Jesus Mio club : COP 10000

See some of Colombia's finest contemporary art at the Museo de Arte Moderno (NAMM), including the complete work of the local painter Débora Arango : COP 5000

Discover the story of Colombia's most infamous drug kingpin and the wealthiest criminal in history, Pablo Escobar, on a tour of his old haunts : COP 60000

Visit the planetarium and public science exhibits at the Parque de los Deseos : Free 

INCLUDED ACTIVITIES

Head out on a fascinating walking tour of Medellín and learn all about it's tumultuous past : Included in Kitty

About Medellín:
The rapid transformation that has taken place in Colombia's second largest city is one like no other. Having spent the 1980s and 90s with international reputation of one of the world's most dangerous cities, Medellín has certainly turned itself around. Once synonymous with the infamous Pablo Escobar and the Medellín Cartel, the city suffered a seriously damaged reputation among st international travellers and has only recently become a popular destination among st backpackers. The Paisas (as people from Medellín are known) have strived to change the city's reputation, and almost nothing of those former days can be seen in the character of the city today - visitors can comfortably enjoy the beautiful architecture, excellent facilities and all round well-developed city! Set amid the rolling green hills of the Aburrá valley and with a warm climate and comfortable altitude of 1538 metres, Medellín has seen more and more travellers flocking to the city in the past few years. With some of the country's finest museums, parks and most impressive architecture as well as a much safer and comfortable atmosphere, it’s easy to see why. Medellín is also one of Colombia's easiest cities to get around with the immaculate and convenient metro system passing all the main points of interest. If you use the metro then make sure you head up on El Teléferico, the city’s cable car, as this is included on your metro ticket and gives you a great view of the city. 

Accommodation
  • Hotel (3 nights)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today we will head into the heart of the coffee region for two nights at a beautiful Hacienda near the town of Manizales. Tomorrow we can relax in the grounds, take a bird watching walk to spot some of the many hummingbirds that frequent the area. We will have an included tour of the Coffee Plantation and learn about the cultivation of coffee.

Estimated Drive time: 7 hours

We will stay in twin share accommodation in a lovely hacienda in the countryside.

Daily Activities
Included Activities
Stay On A Coffee Plantation Near Manizales - Included in Kitty
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (2 nights)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today we will continue our journey south to the small town of Salento, the gateway to the spectacular Valle de Cocora.

Estimated Drive Time - 6-7 hours. On the following day we will head out in the morning for an included visit to a coffee plantation to learn all about the cultivation and producing of Colombian coffee! After a local lunch, we will take an included guided trek through the Cocora Valley to see the Quindio wax palm trees, the largest palms in the world and the national tree of Colombia.

In Salento we will camp in a well-equipped campsite, 15 minutes drive out of town. 

INCLUDED ACTIVITIES 

Head out on a half-day guided trek through the spectacular Cocora Valley, and see the incredible 50m-tall Quindio wax palms, the tallest Palm trees in the world! : Included in Kitty

Explore a working Colombian coffee plantation near Salento and learn all about its cultivation and production : Included in Kitty

About Salento:
Salento is a small town on the edge of the Los Nevados mountain range between the cities of Calí and Medellín, in the heart of Colombia's coffee-growing region. There is a very pleasant cool climate in the hills, and we are able to visit some of Colombia's famous fair-trade coffee plantations in the area. Salento is also the gateway to the Cocora Valley, which as well as its incredible scenery and walking opportunities contains the world's largest palm trees - the Quindío wax palm commonly grows 45m high, and sometimes stretches as high as 60m! We will fully explore the area of Salento and the Cocora Valley during our journey through southern Colombia. 
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (2 nights)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today we will drive to the beautiful town and former colonial capital of Popayán.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours.

On the following day we will have a free day to explore Popayán or take part in some excellent treks or other optional activities in the surrounding area.

In Popayán we stay in dormitory accommodation in a local hostel. 

OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES

Freely explore the serene old colonial capital of Popayán, and soak up the charming atmosphere amongst its white-washed houses and rolling green hills : Free

Relax in the volcanic thermal springs near the village of Coconuco, dramatically set in a steep sided valley : COP 55000

Trek to the 4,650m summit of the towering Puracé volcano near Popayán : COP 85000 

About Popayán:
Nicknamed the White City, Popayán is a beautiful colonial town full of white-washed houses and grand churches encircled by rolling green hills. Although the capital of the Cauca region of southern Colombia, Popayán somehow retains its relaxed small-town feel. The cool and sunny climate of the lower Andes makes Popayán a very comfortable place to stay and as the main university town of the region, there's a young, sociable feel to the city. The leafy parks marked with elegant church towers provide a sociable and relaxed  location where you could easily spend an afternoon, while an evenings entertainment could be chatting with the friendly locals in a classy cafe bar or salsa club. Whilst staying in the town there are some lovely walks offering excellent views of the historic centre, several worthwhile museums and galleries and many good cafes, bars and restaurants to make the most of. There are some excellent treks in the surrounding mountains, including an option to trek to the summit of the nearby Puracé volcano. 
Accommodation
  • Hotel (2 nights)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today we will have a full day drive to the border town of Ipiales.

In Ipiales we will stay in a local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 9-10 hours.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

We will leave Colombia behind today and cross the border into Ecuador, we will have time for an included visit to the beautiful Santurio de las Lajas, before heading to Otavalo.

Tonight we will camp in the grounds of a pretty Guesthouse in Otavalo.

Estimated drive time: 3 hours.

Border information: Exit Colombia at Ipiales, enter Ecuador at Ipiales.
Daily Activities
Included Activities

Visit the jaw dropping Santuario La Lajas on the outskirts of Ipiales - Included in Kitty

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.
Take a short walk to the beautiful Peguche Waterfalls near Otavalo (if time allows) - Free

Village Tour Of Otavalo - Free
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Border information: Exit Colombia at Ipiales, enter Ecuador at Ipiales.

Today we will have an early start to visit the famous Santuario de las Lajas church outside of Ipiales. We will then head south and cross the border into Ecuador and drive to the bustling capital, Quito. En route into the city we will have an included visit to Mitad del Mundo, the monument that marks the Equator.

In Quito we will stay in a friendly local hotel in the 'New Town'.

Estimated Drive Time - 6-8 hours. 

INCLUDED ACTIVITIES 

Visit the jaw-dropping church of Santuario de las Lajas on the outskirts of Ipiales, built on a bridge spanning a 45m-deep river gorge : Included in Kitty

Visit the monument to mark the Equator at Mitad del Mundo: Included in Kitty

About Quito:
Quito is the capital of Ecuador, nestled in a hollow in the mountains in between the volcanos Cayambe, Pichincha and Cotopaxi -at 2,850m above sea level, it is the world's highest official capital city. Founded in 1534 by a group of settlers led by Sebastian de Benalcázar, the town slowly grew throughout the Spanish colonial era and after the region's independence from Spain in 1822. The colonial old town is a maze of steep, cobbled streets with intricately carved, overhanging balconies, and some of the best examples of Spanish colonial art and churches anywhere in the Americas - along with Kraków, Quito was the first ever World Cultural Heritage Sites declared by UNESCO in 1978. The modern area of the town is lively and has some fantastic restaurants and bars. Quito'smix of European and Indian cultures make this a really fascinating city, and you will come across stalls displaying Indian textiles, colourful wall hangings, jewellery, pottery and woodcarvings. Quito has some incredible museums, galleries and parks in the city, and some excellent adventure activities and mountain treks nearby for those with extra time in the area.  
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Border information: if you are finishing in Quito, you will most likely exit Ecuador at Quito Mariscal Sucre International Airport (IATA code: UIO).

Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Quito. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Dragoman Sales team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below.

OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES 

Visit one of the countless art galleries in Quito, such as the Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana or the Museo Guayasamín : USD 6

Take a trip on Quito's Telerifico to the top of the Cruz Loma mountain, getting breathtaking views over the city from a height of 4,270m : USD 8.5

Visit the excellent Museo de la Ciudad, housed in Quito's oldest building, which explores the history of everyday life from pre-Colombian times all the way up until the present day : USD 3

Take a walk around Quito's incredible Botanical Gardens, which showcases all of Ecuador's various ecosystems and their flora : USD 3.5

Visit the Museo Mindalae, the extremely original project showcasing Ecuador's rich cultural diversity : USD 3

Enjoy the fantastic view over Quito's Old Town from the statue of the Virgin Mary on top of the nearby Cerro Panecillo : Free

Freely explore the stunning historical Old Town of Quito, and wander its ancient streets marvelling at the outstanding architecture and wonderful atmosphere : Free

Get away from the busy city with a stroll around one of Quito's numerous parks, all of which are very beautiful and popular with the locals : Free

Visit the Museo Nacional del Banco Central, showcasing the country’s largest collection of Ecuadorian art and housing an impressive gold collection : USD 2
 
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Meals

No meals are included on this tour

Transport

Overland expedition vehicle, 4x4, Ferry

Accommodation

Camping ( 9 nights ), hotel / hostel / lodge / cabin ( 9 nights )

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. This trip is run by our experienced overland partner Dragoman.
2. Please note that this trip requires minimum numbers to depart, and may be cancelled up until 56 days prior to departure. The places showing on the dates and availability page are an indication only so please contact Intrepid to check if your preferred date will depart before making any final arrangements, such as booking non-changeable flights.

Essential trip information

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