Experience South America's best-kept secret.

Colombia is one of those gems of South America that many travellers still don’t know about, and this ten-day adventure is the ideal way to experience its mountains, hidden beaches, cobblestoned towns and so much more. Be captivated by Bogota’s colonial-era centre, laze on palm-fringed stretches of Caribbean shoreline and meet the locals that make Colombia one of the world's friendliest countries. While Tayrona National Park and the Guachaca region offer gorgeous hiking trails, off-track swimming holes and powdery beaches nestled in lush jungle, eye-catching towns like Barichara are a dream to explore, and adrenaline-fuelled San Gil is just moments away. For an off-track trip in South America that’s full of rhythm, music, colour and life, Explore Colombia is right up there with the best of them.

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Terms & Conditions

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

Why you'll love this trip

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

  • Tayrona National Park is a nature escape that seems to have it all, from perfect beaches and mountain backdrops to wildlife-filled jungle

  • Admire the colonial-era architecture of Barichara – this little gem is widely considered Colombia's prettiest town. Get lost on the cobblestone streets or head to nearby San Gil, a hotspot for adventure sports

Is this trip right for you?

  • 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 protColombia 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 protection.

  • The hiking in Tayrona Park (day 4) is one of the highlights, but it’s important to prepare. Bring footwear you can tackle (possible) mud in, and don’t forget your swimming gear for the beaches along the way.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2018 to 31 December 2018. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2019 - 31 December 2019

Bienvenidos a Colombia! Welcome to Colombia. 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 adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. 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. After the meeting, step out for an orientation walk with your leader (note that this may take place tomorrow morning instead).
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Cartagena - Orientation walk of hotel neighbourhood
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 evening 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. 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.

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).
Spend some free time today 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. For a bite to eat today, consider heading to La Chivicheria, an especially good choice for lovers of seafood.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Cartagena - San Felipe de Barajas - COP20000
  • Cartagena - Volcan de Lodo El Totumo - COP50000
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
In the morning, take a shared van transfer (approximately 5 hours) north of Cartagena to Guachaca, your home for the next two nights. This is a beautiful region, awash with lush green mountains that collide with the rugged coastlin, enjoy a cocktail or two with your travel companions or treat yourself to a massage. It's the perfect jungle paradise in which to take the pace down a notch. Once you're there, the remainder of the day is free. 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 lovely family-run guesthouse, simple and comfortable, nestled high in the jungle.
Meals Included
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Head to Tayrona National Park, a protected plot of wilderness encircled by the massive Santa Marta mountain range on one side and the picture-perfect Caribbean on the other. There's a fair amount of hiking involved today, so be prepared and make sure your walking shoes are on (bug spray will also come in handy). It's a solid hour or two to hike to the first beach, with a few up and down parts, and if it rains it may get a little muddy here and there. The reward, however, is not only the superb beaches but the hike itself. The ambience of the jungle, the verdant scenery and the first glimpse of the sea make for a magical day out among nature. The hiking is flexible; you can hike more or less, depending on your wishes and energy levels. The hike to stunning Cabo San Juan is well worth the effort; it's further away than some other beaches however highly recommended. Note that it's not possible to swim at all beaches, as the ocean rip can be strong. When it's all over, we head back to Guachaca for the night.
Accommodation
  • Family Posada (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Tayrona National Park - Entrance fee
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Enjoy a final morning in your jungle haven, perhaps rising early to see the sun rise from the beach. After a tasty continental breakfast, head off for your (included) flight 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 rolling hills for a backdrop, Barichara is probably the prettiest and best-preserved colonial-style village in all Colombia.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
With free time, spend today however you please. Barichara is itself a fine place to wander around on foot, with its artistic (but safe) atmosphere and plenty of nice shops to browse. If you'd like to get out and get active, head over to San Gil, the adventure capital of Colombia (approximately 30 minutes' drive). Please speak to your tour leader for suggestions of things to do. 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.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Barichara - Pescaderito swimming hole - USD16
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
After breakfast, set out on a two-hour walk along the Camino Real to the village of Guane. The walk is stunning, full of awe-inspiring mountain scenery. Declared a national monument in 1988, the ancient trail was built by the indigenous Guane people. 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 local church before catching the local bus back to Barichara. There may be some time to relax or explore back in Barichara before the day's end.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Barichara - Walk along Camino Real to the village 'Guane'
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today we travel by local bus to Bogota via San Gil (approximately 8 hours), so kick back and enjoy the lull as the scenery rolls by. There will be plenty of stops along made along the way. Your hotel in Bogota is located in the Chapinero neighbourhood, one of the most culturally interesting parts of town.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today we'll check out a couple of essential local spots. 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. We 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 artifacts from various eras on display. Finally, it's time to head up Cerro de Monserrate by cable car, where a 17th-century church overlooks the sprawling capital. It's a great place to watch the sunset as the trip draws to a close.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Bogota - Montserrate cable car
  • Bogota - Gold Museum
Optional Activities
  • Bogota - Museo Nacional - COP20000
  • Bogota - Graffiti Tour - USD7
  • Bogota - 'Beyond Colombia' Walking tour - USD7
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
The trip concludes after breakfast this morning.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

7 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 2 dinners

Transport

Plane, Private Bus, Private vehicle, Public bus, Van

Accommodation

Hotel (9 nights)

Included activities

  • Cartagena - Orientation walk of hotel neighbourhood
  • Tayrona National Park - Entrance fee
  • Barichara - Walk along Camino Real to the village 'Guane'
  • Bogota - Montserrate cable car
  • Bogota - Gold Museum

Dates & availability

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Important notes

PASSPORT DETAILS REQUIRED
Full passport details are required at the time of booking in order to purchase Entrance fees to certain sites. Additionally on certain trips it's needed to book bus, train or flight tickets. Delays to provide this information may result in booking fees or changes to your itinerary.

TAYRONA NATIONAL PARK CLOSURE –28th January - 28th February 2018
Tayrona National Park will be closed from 28th January 2018 to 28th February 2018 as a result of discussions between the park operators and the local indigenous people regarding the ecological recuperation of the ecosystem. Trip departures starting on the 10th and 24th of February 2018 will not visit Tayrona National Park and instead visit ‘Sierra e Mar’ a tropical rainforest with a similar landscape to Tayrona. The included hike will offer a big diversity of fauna and flora as well as having the option to swim in crystal clear fresh water rock pools.

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT:
Please note that the Single Supplement does not include nights 3 & 4

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 Explore Colombia trips score an average of 4.64 out of 5 based on 58 reviews in the last year.

Explore Colombia, July 2018

Sophie Cherry

Explore Colombia, July 2018

Eveline Sobrino