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. 
 


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

Why you'll 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?

  • 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

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! 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 around the nearby area. After that, you're free to go exploring.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Bogota - Montserrate cable car - COP17000
  • Bogota - Museo Nacional - COP20000
  • Bogota - Gold Museum - COP3000
  • 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 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! 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)
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 San Javier. 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. 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
  • Subway and metrocable to get to Plaza Minorista Market and San Javier Medellin and back
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
This morning starts at approximately 8am with a pick-up. We head about 17km out of of Medellin to a flower farm in Santa Elena which is located slightly higher than Medellin at 2500mts above sea level. Here we will meet a local "silletero" (chair maker) and his family. The silletero makes the flower "silletas" (flower display) that competes every year in the Medellin "Fiesta de las flores". A local guide will take us through the history and the evolution of the "silleta" culture. We'll see where the flowers grow and witness how a small silleta is made.
This afternoon 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.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Medellin - Flower Farm tour
Optional Activities
  • Pablo Escobar Tour - COP60000
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
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
  • 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
  • Lunch
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

13 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 4 dinners

Transport

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

Accommodation

Coffee Estancia (2 nights), Hotel (14 nights)

Included activities

  • Subway and metrocable to get to Plaza Minorista Market and San Javier Medellin and back
  • Medellin - Flower Farm tour
  • 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 3rd and 17th 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.

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) and 10 & 11 (Guachaca Region) where you will be in shared accommodation.

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

On June 30th Peruvian authorities released a new list of regulations for visiting Machu Picchu, which came into effect from July 1st

The main points impacting our visits are:

1. Tickets are now only valid only for one entry, that means that passengers cannot leave the site and re-enter as we have in the past.
2. Once the passengers begin on a chosen circuit (there are 3 different ones) they cannot walk backwards and once they finish the circuit they must leave the site. They cannot explore afterwards.
3. The two allotted times to visit are 6am-12pm/ 12-4.30pm
4. It will be mandatory to have a guide (Machu Picchu guide, not our Leaders) to visit the site. However, this rule can’t be applied as there are not enough official guides to cover the large amount of people visiting so authorities are being flexible.

These new regulations are affecting how much time our passengers can spend in Machu Picchu, in the past, after a 1-2.5 hour tour passengers could stay longer to explore the site unguided, this is not possible anymore.

Our only alternative is to make passengers explore the upper part of Machu Picchu (Sun gate and Inka Bridge) before their guided tour starts (so about 2 hours before meeting the guide). Your Tour Leader will provide more information on what the group options are at the Welcome meeting.

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 4.65 out of 5 based on 17 reviews in the last year.

Best of Colombia, May 2018

Andre Charron

Best of Colombia, May 2018

Carmel Childs