Travel to Colombia and discover a flourishing, vibrant country

Be a part of Colombia's revival on this exciting overland trip. Start the adventure in Ecuador's capital, Quito, and travel through the Colombian countryside to Cartagena. 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.


Start
Quito, Ecuador
Finish
Cartagena, Colombia
Destinations
Colombia, Ecuador
Style
Basix
Theme
Overland
Code
GDOQ
Physical rating
Ages
Min 12
Group size
Min 4, Max 22

Why you'll love this trip

  • Explore the old and new quarters of Quito

  • View dramatic volcanic landscapes in Purace National Park

  • Get a caffeine-fix at a plantation in Los Nevados National Park

  • Relax on the beach in tranquil Tolu

  • Tour the diverse landscapes of the San Bernardo Islands

  • Admire the colonial architecture in Cartagena

Itinerary

Border Information: if joining in Quito, you will most likely enter Ecuador at Quito Mariscal Sucre International Airport (IATA code: UIO).

There will be an important group meeting at 6:00pm 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 Quito 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 Quito.

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

Hotel for the night: Fuente de Piedra II
Hotel Fuente de Piedra II
Juan Leon Mera N23-21 y Baquedano
Mariscal Sucre
Quito
Ecuador
Tel - +593 2290 0323

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

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

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

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.
Today our journey begins with a short drive to Mitad del Mundo, the monument that marks the Equator. After this we will continue north to the charming town of Otavlo.

In Otavalo we will camp in the grounds of lovely Guesthouse..

Estimated Drive Time - 3 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!).


Daily Activities
Included Activities
Visit the equator at Mitad del Mundo - 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
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Today we will leave Ecuador behind and travel into Colombia. We will have an included visit to the Santuario de las Lajas en route to our hotel in Ipiales.

Border information: Exit Ecuador at Ipiales, enter Colombia at Ipiales.

Estimated drive time: 4 hours.

Daily Activities
Included Activities
Visit the jaw dropping Santuario La Lajas on the outskirts of Ipiales - Included in Kitty
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Today we will drive to the beautiful town and former colonial capital of Popayán.

Estimated Drive Time - 9-10 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.

Daily Activities
Optional Activities. These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Relax in the volcanic thermal springs near the village of Coconuco, dramatically set in a steep-sided valley - COP 60000

Trek to the 4,650m summit of the towering Puracé volcano near Popayán - COP 130000
Accommodation
  • Hotel (2 nights)
Meals Included
  • Lunch (1)
Today we will continue our journey north to the small town of Salento, the gateway to the spectacular Valle de Cocora.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours.

On the following day we will have a 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.

Daily Activities
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 plam trees in the world! - Included in Kitty
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (2 nights)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast (2)
  • Lunch (2)
  • Dinner (2)
Today we have a short drive to our Hacienda in the heart of the coffee region. Depending on the weather it may be possible to take a trip into the Los Nevados National Park

Estimated drive time: 1.5hrs

On the following day we will have a tour of the coffee plantation and learn about the cultivation of coffee.

We will stay in twin rooms in a comfortable hacienda.

Daily Activities
Included Activities
Stay On A Coffee Plantation Near Manizales - Included in Kitty
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (2 nights)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast (2)
  • Lunch (2)
  • Dinner (2)
Today we will drive to the vibrant city of Medellín, where we will spend 3 nights.

Estimated Drive Time - 6-7 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.

Daily Activities
Optional Activities. These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.
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
Head out and discover some of Medellín's vibrant and unusual nightlife at the Dulce Jesus Mio club - COP 10000

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
Accommodation
  • Hotel (3 nights)
Meals Included
  • Lunch (1)


Today we have a drive north to the beautiful, colonial town of Santa Cruz de Lorica.

Estimated Drive Time - 10hours.

The following day we have a free day to explore the historic centre, learn about the traditional hates that are made in the region or head to the coast for a final beach sunset at San Bernardo del Viento.

In Santa Cruz de Lorica we stay in a lovely local hotel.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (2 nights)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast (1)
  • Lunch (1)
Today we drive north 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 - 8-9 hours.

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) (2 nights)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast (2)
  • Lunch (2)
  • Dinner (2)
We will have some more free time in Tayrona National Park in the morning, before we walk back to the park entrance and complete our epic journey with a drive to the beautiful coastal colonial city of Cartagena.

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

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours. 

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

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 favourite destinations of most travellers who visit it. The area has been inhabited by various native civilisations 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
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Today 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. 
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Border information: if you are finishing in Cartagena, you will most likely exit Colombia at Cartagena Rafael Núñez International Airport (IATA code: CTG).

Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Cartagena. 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.

If you are continuing on to Panama then your leader will assist you with airport transfers for your included flight. You will stay tonight in a comfortable hotel in either Panama City or Cartagena (depending on the flight times and availability). 

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 mud volcano of Totumo, and take a rejuvenating mud bath in its crater : USD 25

Visit the historic coastal Spanish fortress of Castillo San Felipe : COP 17000 
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

12 breakfasts, 12 lunches, 7 dinners

Transport

Overland expedition vehicle, 4x4, Ferry

Accommodation

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

Dates & availability

Trip search is unavailable.

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

Prices may change, so secure your trip today!
Jump to a departure month

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

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 Quito to Cartagena trips score an average of 4 out of 5 based on 3 reviews in the last year.

Quito to Cartagena, June 2018

Betty Harris

Quito to Cartagena, July 2015

John Ryan